Weekly Workout: Three Ring Circus Part One – WANT

The other day I was having trouble focusing my thoughts enough to prioritize my day. There was the yoga routine I had been neglecting, the Book Three Lexicon to get to my copy editor, the paperwork to be filled out and mailed so I could stay in Canada, the book launch plans to, well, plan… I equated my mind to a Three-Ring Circus. Too many things calling for my attention all at once.

This made me think about how complex we are, how things we want (I want to be in good physical shape, I want to have a successful book launch party) and things we must do (I must fill out this paperwork or I’ll get booted out of Canada) and things we need (I need to create balance in my life) pull our heads and hearts in various directions, how we can get blocked when there are strong emotions around any of these things.

Today at Three Ring Circus Central I thought we’d deal with the idea of WANT.

What your character WANTS in the outside world is generally in conflict with what she needs. (And with what other people want.) When I speak of “need” in character development, I’m speaking of something the character may not even realize she needs, or something she denies she needs. It’s at the crux of her character arc. It’s the obstacle she needs to find and/or change in her internal world. In the end, it’s what we want for her. (i.e. she thinks she WANTS to become VP of the company, but what she really needs is be more vulnerable with her loved ones)

Sometimes characters get what they need instead of what they thought they wanted, sometimes they get both (they win the race AND they become a better person). Unless it’s a tragedy. It’s sad and frustrating as a reader if our character doesn’t get what she needs.

I am currently reading The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier. One of the two protagonists is a young girl in a land where young girls of certain status have no independence. They are not allowed to go to town without a male escort, let alone have a job of any kind. What the character says she really WANTS is to be a chef. But she knows this is impossible because she’s a girl. In facing the obstacles around this, we’ll find out what she really needs.

I have yet to figure that out. There is another force at work in the story that has not completely revealed itself. But it’s snaking its way in enough to keep me intrigued. She is currently resisting this mysterious force, and I know her wants and needs will eventually collide.


1) SET YOUR TIMER for 7-10 minutes.

Start with the line: At the beginning of my story, my character dreams / schemes of…

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

2) SET YOUR TIMER for 10-12 minutes.

Start with the line: Directly in the way of what my character wants is…

3) SET YOUR TIMER for 12-15 minutes.

There should be a moment where your character does not believe she will get what she wants (whether she gets it in the end or not).

For this section, start with the line: The moment she realizes she might not get what she wants happens when…

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

And have a great week!

*     *     *

If you are a blogger who would like to post your own weekly workout exercise with me every Monday, please write to info (at) danikadinsmore.com


Filed under weekly workout, writing exercises

5 responses to “Weekly Workout: Three Ring Circus Part One – WANT

  1. This is invaluable to me. I have no trouble with the want part, but I often neglect the need part. Thanks for the reminder as I work through the 4th draft to my novel.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Writing Workout: Three Ring Circus Part Two – NEED | writing to support my teaching habit

  3. Pingback: Weekly Writing Workout: Get Your Purpose Straight | writing to support my teaching habit

From my brain to yours

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s