Knowing our strengths and weaknesses is crucial, especially for writers.
For those that are working on a story idea, answer the following questions as best you can. If you don’t have a response, just make a note of it. Ready? Break out the scantron and the #2 pencil for this Test to Reveal your Inner Writer:
1) Your protagonist has a tangible, real-life goal, right? If so, what is it?
2) What’s getting in the way of the protagonist achieving this goal?
3) Are there consequences if the protagonist doesn’t achieve his goal?
4) What’s the protagonist’s biggest flaw?
5) What’s the protagonist’s biggest strength?
6) What would your protagonist bring on a deserted island?
7) What would your protagonist bring on a crowded island, where there’s like… A lot of people (ewwww)?
8) Does your protagonist fear anything?
9) Does your protagonist have a skeleton (or maybe even a real-life corpse) in the closet?
1) If you answered questions #1, #2, and #3 easily, then you’re a writer who leans towards plot-driven. High-concept million dollar sale, here you come! (Probably not, but it’s still fun to think that might happen, right?)
2) If you answered questions #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, and #9 easily, then you’re a writer who leans on character-driven plots.
3) If you answered ALL of the questions easily, then you’re a writer who is one of the lucky few – you can easily shift from plot-driven to character-driven plots with ease, and I kinda, sorta, hate you.
What does this all mean?
Look – the first questions are all about PLOT. There are CLEAR GOALS. Something tangible (not stuff like… “My character just wants to be happy.” That’s not a clear, tangible goal.) A CLEAR GOAL is something the audience knows the character gets when he gets it. Like that KILLER JOB… Or capturing the BAD GUY… Or GETTING THE GIRL… (Or monkey, or sacred pumpkin, or whatever). If you don’t have clear answers for 1-3, then your plot hinges more than ever on character.