Let’s talk about my favorite kind of story—the character-driven story.
A story that puts emphasis on your main character is a story that focuses on a person attempting to change their role in life. A character’s “role” is their relationships with other people in the book and the world that you have built for them. The story begins at a point where the main character has come to realize (either consciously or unconsciously) that there is something missing or intolerable about their everyday life and sets out to change that. The story ends when that character either finds a new role or willingly returns to the old one. The latter choice would be kinda sad but either way, a character center story fines your hero in some state of discontent at the beginning and we read to find out how they overcome it.
This sounds dreadful, right? Why would we want to read a story about this malcontent?
Well, to put it simply, stories about happy people are kinda boring. Your character can begin the story in a seeming state of contentment, but there must be something that they wants, some central problem that speaks to a deep longing, or dissatisfaction with the course of their life. A central problem is A central problem is a damaging belief or inner conflict that the protagonist must face in order to achieve their goal. This problem, whether consciously or unconsciously, prevents the hero from living their best life.
Needless to say, character-driven stories require the most character development.
You, the author, bear the responsibility of knowing this character’s history, goals, motivations, and intentions to make them feel real, believable, and relatable.
It’s important to note, however, that not all of the people in a character-driven story need to be fully realized. The protagonist and supporting roles that play an important part in their development should get the same treatment.
As a romance author, character-driven stories are my favorite kind of stories to write.
With so many tropes, themes, and archetypes, character development is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. But honestly, if you’re anything like me, you’ll just enjoy crafting characters with so many delicious flaws, wounds, and backstory that you can use to torture them all the way to their happily ever after!