Sunday, December 28, 2008

What Do You Need?

Right now, I'm reading Raven, a remarkable story about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. The author Tim Reiterman does a remarkable job not only describing Jones' early days as a minister in Indiana on the massacre at Jonestown, but offers glimpses of the believers and their families. We are made aware of their needs:

Jones needed power, acceptance, unchallenged devotion. Members of the Temple (the majority of them Black) needed to belong to a church and a God that loved them, saw them as important, gave them a voice, and provided for all of their earthly needs. In Jones, they saw a loving father who gave them food, shelter and political power. He met their needs. And then he exploited those needs.

Reiterman is sure to remind readers about the needs of these people, and as a result, I care about them. I want them to escape, even though I know their fates.

As a writer, this is a huge goal-identifying your characters' needs and making sure the world cares. Because what good is it when the reader simply shrugs and says, ''Whatever."

In my w.i.p, Nicole, my main character, needs to understand why she has been left alone m the world. She needs to understand the death of her husband so that she can get back to living. She also needs sleep and psychological counseling.

What do your characters need?

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