Posted by: nancycurteman | October 21, 2013

How to Use Character Inner Feelings to Drive Story Action

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MysteriousPeopleAs in real life, the choices and actions of story people stem from their inner world. An author must explain why his characters act the way they act. The challenge is to show how the inner feelings of story characters drive decisions and behavior. Here are some questions authors can think about as they build a character’s inner world:

What is the character feeling or thinking, and how did he come to feel/think that way?

What are the contradictions in the interior life of a character?

What is the internal drive that makes a central character want to achieve a certain goal? Does he or she want to feel worthy, validated, loved, complete, healed, forgiven?

What events can you create that could logically lead your character to change in the ways you want?

What kind of moral dilemma is inside the main character?

What kinds of secret flaws can you give your character?

How does his backstory impact his interior life?

How does his interior world change?

How can you show your characters inner world by something he says or does?

Can you use interior thoughts to reveal a characters inner world?

Use these kinds of questions to show why your character responds to obstacles he encounters in the way he does.

More Tips:

How to Increase Tension Through Character Inner Conflict
7 ways to add tension to any kind of novel
Backstory: 10 things a Mystery Writer Should Know


  1. Great list of questions to ponder while mapping out a characters quest. Thanks, NC.


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