This is the basic form I use to create my characters.
Motive (Emotional need):
Goal (Physical need):
External Conflict (physical):
Internal Conflict (emotional):
Epiphany (Lesson learned, changes made?):
Designation – Emotional or Motive driven
Motive – What they really need
Goal – what they THINK they want
Fatal Flaw – Achilles heal
Secret – The lie they tell themselves to get by
Using this simple character outline, the only thing I could think to add would be if your character has a back-story, maybe you’d like to jot it down. Just copy and past this into a Word document, save as a template and you’re ready to start making your heroes with more information.
This seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? Compared to the huge outlines some authors use, this is the one I use to make my characters come off the pages. Putting emotion into them is easy when you remember the internal conflict is what drives him truly, but external conflict must be solved as the Hero believes that by solving the External Conflict, they will achieve their goal.
Let’s talk about Designation for a moment. Typically your Heroine is going to be the one who is emotionally driven. The stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. Our Hero, Jaded or not, will be more Motive driven. His way of Being will work in conjunction with his desire to achieve what he thinks he wants. But that’s off balance because he’s generally acting on all the information and utilizing only half of his resources.
Emotions make us stop and think, sometimes for too long, but sometimes just long enough. There has been proof that our emotions are linked to our thoughts, our instincts.
Most men, especially those in high stress situations are taught to ignore their emotions. Emotions will get you killed is the mantra preached. Probably true for many. The Male Mind is a powerful tool just as is the Female Mind, yet the difference is in what’s processed. Again, background of your character helps set this tone for his Being when we meet him.
At the end of our stories, we want (traditionally) a HEA. Right? Well that would mean bringing the Hero around full circle. He starts off with just instinct, distrust, action driven by his Goal. The Heroine in our stories is traditionally led by her Emotions and is Emotionally driven, even if she’s in a high stress situation such as a military action. No amount of brainwashing can undo (IMO) DNA wiring.
The positive and negative traits in our Hero are no different than with our Heroine. Many Heroes are loyal to a fault, others are shall we say, crafty? Still others have negative traits such as an insatiable lust for women. (Clouded judgment)
The negative trait could be an extension of the Fatal Flaw, but why not make it something different as to give our hero more depth?
That Fatal Flaw is usually going to be the ONE THING designed in your story’s plot to bring the Hero to a stand still in his present way of being. With Endangered Joséf is my alpha to be over a pack of wolves yet he’s unaware until our Heroine shows him his truth. His fatal flaw is that he has a weakness for protecting those who cannot protect themselves. His negative trait is that he has adopted an addictive personality and as a result, is addicted to booze, the drug he’s been trying to stop the spread of, and now death.
When dealing with Epiphany, we need to figure out what the tape in our Hero’s head is. For Joséf, it’s “I must protect all I can then die because I am unloved and alone.” Livía shows him that the tape is wrong and gives him a new way to Be, though it’s a struggle.
The next lesson will be relatively short but will deal with Feeling the Story from your Hero’s POV. We’ve talked enough about his state of mind, emotional behavior and limiting beliefs by now that you should be pretty familiar with how he thinks and would react so that writing him is easier. But we’re still not finished if we have to write the entire novel in his POV.
Everybody having fun yet? Karenne? *snicker*