NaNoWriMo 2017: Decide What Your Novel’s Characters Want

Posted Mon, 11/27/2017 - 8:00am by  |  Category:

Notebook and penIf you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, you’re hopefully nearing the end of your draft. I hope adding value shifts to your scenes has made them more exciting and fun to write.

You might feel like you’re running into the problem of how to wrap up your story. You might have many plot threads, and a long way to go to get them wrapped up.

I know when I did NaNoWriMo, I’d run into this problem. How would I make this story end? How could I even get it in the right direction to an ending?

You probably at least have a decent idea of what you want your ending to be. But here’s something to think about as you get toward that point: What objects of desire do your characters have?

Create objects of desire

An object of desire is something your character is desperately trying to get. Is your character looking for a buried treasure? Trying to shut off the world-ending bomb? Win the love of her life? Make peace with his family?

If you haven’t identified an object of desire for your protagonist, introduce it in the very next scene you write. Introducing it now will give your story a goal to focus on in these last couple of weeks as you race toward your complete NaNoWriMo draft.

Also consider writing about how the main character won’t get her object of desire, and what that can tell you about your main character. Will she have personal resolve when she faces obstacles in her path?

This object of desire will also resonate with any potential reader. Their object of desire is to have your protagonist get their object of desire.

Also think about the objects of desire for other characters in your story. What is the object of desire for the antagonist or villain? How can that object of desire impede your protagonist’s quest for her object of desire? What about the objects of desire for the protagonist’s friends? Or even for single-scene characters?

Thinking about these for all of your characters and how they agree or disagree with the main character can inspire a lot of interesting scenarios and opportunities to create an exciting ending.

If you want to go a level deeper, think about what your characters’ objects of desire and how that it is in opposition with what they actually need to be fulfilled.

For example, a character could want the new job, but to really solve her problems, she actually needs to find a place she can call home.

A way to move toward your ending could be to focus on how your characters get what they need through the success (or failure) of their quest to get what they want.

You’re doing great. This time next week, you’ll be done!

Talk to you next week. Keep writing.

Jay PetersJay Peters is a Seattle-based writer and editor who offers manuscript editing and developmental editing at He’s happy to chat with you about your NaNoWriMo story — just email him through his website. In his spare time, he likes to run through the city and read in the most comfortable chair he can find.