Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On the Road: Why Characters Need Choices in Fiction

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I'm continuing my quiet book tour today over at Writers Helping Writers, talking about Why Characters Need Choices in Fiction. Come on over and say hello!

Here's a sneak peek:
Choices drive every single conflict in a novel. The protagonist wants something (the goal), something is preventing her from getting it (the conflict), and she must make a choice about what to do to get what she wants. The opposition might be direct or indirect, but it’s the challenge faced and the choices made to achieve that goal that make the conflict (and the novel) work.

However, if the choice is obvious and no one would ever choose the other options, it’s not really a choice, and any conflict in making that choice goes right out the window. (read the rest here)


  1. I like where you're going with this, but I think this tone tends to overemphasize conventions of writing like the disembodied "protagonist" and "antagonist". The overall key is to make whatever you have happening in your novel believable. Poor plot choices and cheesy convenient circumstances go out the window with this method, and it helps to ground the writer in what and who they're writing about.

    1. That's true no matter what you do, though. Any technique or theory can be poorly executed, or just not work for the story you want to tell. As writers, we need to choose what best serves our story. But if a character never has to make a real choice and nothing is even in conflict, that usually leads to pretty flat and predictable stories.

      Like all things writing, it's the balance that typically works best. Offer choices when they work, skip them when they'd hurt the story.