Character's Desire

Desire is a core human need that, if satisfied, would stop the story in its tracks.


Desire is the blood of a story.

You can discover your story by asking a key question:

Why I am doing what I am doing?”

All human beings do an action for a reason. What is your motivation to do what you are doing as the protagonist in your story?

Don’t be satisfied with your first answer, but challenge yourself by asking “Why?” again and again and again. Each time you will get closer to the truth.

Deep thinking will lead you to a revealing conclusion about what drives, motivates and guides you in your life, and how this connects to your actions and activities you perform.

Don’t forget:

all great stories point to a greater cause that resonates within us.


IDENTIFY what you desired or wanted in each scene.

Here is a list of universal human needs to help you explore. In almost every conflict, the problem comes down to one of these needs/desires not being met.

Basic Human Needs - in no particular order (as described by Abraham Marslow*)

Feelings when needs are not met:

angry, anxious, afraid, bored, confused, disappointed, discouraged, embarrassed, frustrated, hopeless, impatient, irritated, insecure, jealous, lonely, lost, nervous, overwhelmed, reluctant, sad, tense, uncomfortable, vulnerable, worried.

Feelings when needs are met:

amazed, anxious, brave, calm, content, confident, enthusiastic, eager, glad, happy, hopeful, inspired, optimistic, proud, peaceful, relaxed, strong, satisfied, stimulated

Here are some examples of character's desire:

“Elevator ER” by Jon Levin:

So believe me when I tell you that when I was twenty-one in 1990, and I applied for a job working the night shift in the OR at Massachusetts General Hospital, it was not out of a great desire to help my fellow man. I was only doing it because the job paid really well- $9 an hour, which was $3 an hour more than the job I had been doing, working in a supermarket pushing carts of meat around.

The narrator, who is a college dropout, needs money to live on. Later in the story, we find out that his other desire is to be recognized / acknowledged / and to contribute. This comes out when he saves one of his patient's lives and uses the incident for his application to get back into college.

It seems kind of obvious in retrospect, but at the time I was so unaccustomed to feeling anything positive, especially related to work, that it took me a really long time to recognize that I enjoyed what I did, and I enjoyed caring about it. I enjoyed caring about Mr. Williams and myself. 
But about six months later, I found myself mentioning the incident in a personal essay that was part of an application to get back into college.

“Easter in a Texas Roadhouse” by Wayne Reece:

And on that Saturday I was agonizing to finish my sermon that I had worked on all week long, trying to get it down to the perfection that Christian preachers aspire to on Easter.

The narrator wants to deliver an amazing sermon on Easter. Perhaps this will fulfill his need to be either accepted, to grow/develop, be respected, or communicate.