Week 1 - Storytelling
January 6 - Introduction
January 7 - Why we like stories
January 8 - Why we tell stories
January 9 - Your perspective
January 10 - Worlds/Characters
🔒January 11 - Responsibilities
Week 2 - Characters
January 13 - Warming up
January 14 - Internal/external
January 15 - Needs/Wants
🔒 Week 4
🔒 Week 5
🔒 Week 6
🔒 Week 7
🔒 Week 8
🔒 Week 9
🔒 Week 10
🔒 Week 11
🔒 Week 12
Hour 264-288 | Wants vs. Needs
Yesterday we talked about the difference between internal and external features. Let's ignore external, or physical features for a moment and zoom in on the mind of a character.
One powerful way to think about this is to ask yourself a question. What does this character want? It's important to understand what a character wants because it informs your story. If you don't really know what they start out wanting it's hard to take them somewhere on a journey; and that's what stories are all about.
When you pick a movie, any one of your favorite movies, you're can probably easily pick-out the part where the character says, "I want to do this."
"I want to be champion."
"I want to be king."
"I want to be the greatest chef in the world."
Characters get to have that goal and they will work every day, every second of the day in their story to make that happen.
Wants drive a character to act. A character might want something and do everything to get it. Needs are the things we need to do, or learn in order to grow, or succeed in life. For example, a character might learn that they need to share what they desire in order to be fulfilled, or happy.
The distinction between what a character wants and what they need is important when you're building a character. We all have those things we want.
Oh man, I'd love that new car.
Or, I'd really like, a VR machine, that'd be so cool.
But what I need is probably to feed my family. And to have good relationships and things like that.
Oftentimes I think needs are something that we don't like admitting. It's things like eating your vegetables. You want to just go for those sweets, the things that make life easier, but sometimes we have to do those things that we don't want to do. And in the end, it makes for a full course meal...if we're going with this food analogy.
And I think, in a character, it's important to have those needs, and even have those needs sometimes conflict with the wants because it makes our characters stronger and makes them have to go through trials that turn them into more of a well-rounded character.
So Woody in Toy Story, for example, he wants to be Andy's favorite toy, and stay that way. And he needs to learn to share. To share his friendship, and to not have to always be the best. Sometimes a character might want something in the beginning, and then their need comes out of a realization they might have along the way.
In the case of Sully, he wants to rise up in the organization. He just wants to be promoted, to be the top in his profession. Internally though, there is a monkey wrench thrown in his plans, in the form of Boo. Something that he doesn't want to take care of. But because this little girl actually depends on him he's at odds with what his main goal is. If he gets exposed to actually having a human child that career path that he wants gets destroyed. It disappears. So, the thing that he values, that he says he wants and the thing that he has to take care of right now are going to destroy each other. His heart actually softens because he starts to care about Boo more than he cares about his career. In fact, he doesn't care at all about his career anymore. And he will choose what he needs in his life...A connection to another person. He wants Boo in his life.
So I think that oftentimes your want can be some of the entertainment of the story, but the need is gonna be that emotional heart that really makes people remember the story when they finish...and for years later.
In the next exercise, you'll have a chance to think a little more about the wants and needs of some characters you know. As well as ones you want to create.
Exercise 7: Needs & Wants
Part A: Return to the main characters from your three favorite stories. Identify a want and a need for each character. For example: In Monsters Inc. Sulley wants to be the best scarer but he needs to be a father figure.
Part B: Try to identify one of your own wants and needs.
Part C: Return to your character idea from the previous exercise. Brainstorm answers to the following questions:
You can submit your ideas in the Comments section below, or write them down in your story journal.