What Are Your Characters' Resolutions?

Katherine Longshore 3 Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Our theme this week is to write about writing resolutions.  As Donna pointed out yesterday, writing endings is hard.  I'm coming up on the end of my latest WIP right now, and my loose ends are like a cat o' nine tails, whipping about and wreaking havoc.

So I'm going to turn this theme on its head and write about another meaning of word.  One that will be familiar to many today, as we jump into the New Year feet first.  The first definition of resolution in my dictionary is this:  a firm decision to do or not to do something.

If it were New Year's Day in my characters' world, what would be my protagonist's resolution?  What is the one thing that she feels she must do--or not do.  If I were to ask her what her pledge is, what would she say?

The character I'm working on now would say her resolution is to stay put.  She has lived through a lot, she has faced some of her worst fears and she has found a safe and comfortable pigeonhole.  (Imagine a modern teenager, thankful to be labeled a "drama geek" and happy to accept that role.  Or a "nerd" who finds the debate team.  Or the "jock" who gets to be quarterback.)  Staying in one place doesn't sound like a very active role, but when you think about the outside forces at work, staying in one place can require a lot of energy.  Imagine treading water in a river, not letting yourself get to either shore or be washed downstream.  So the drama geek has to get the lead role.  The nerd is a terrible debater, but wants to stay on the team.  The quarterback snaps a knee ligament.  How do they maintain their position in the pigeonhole?

And what happens when they can't?

Ultimately, this is just a different way of looking at the key question: what is your main character's goal?  I can't always answer that question right away.  Sometimes, I can only answer it in revision.  But for some reason, I'm able to answer this one, for this character.  What is her New Year's resolution?

What does your character resolve to do this year?


great idea. I think I'll start back into writing by brainstorming this!

Yes, I very much like this way of looking at the character's goal. Solid advice, Katy.

Thanks, ladies! I sometimes need to find a different way to ask a question before I can find an answer.

And Carol--good luck brainstorming and have fun writing!

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