Tips for Writers: Frustrate Your Hero

Still in production on my feature film. Meanwhile, for my writer friends, here’s a tip on creating strong, character-driven stories. Have a great weekend! ~Mitch

Mitch Teemley


I know, you’re thinking, “Well, of course. I always seek Mick Jagger’s advice when creating characters.”

Or not.

But Mick has a point: Instead of building a conventional dramatic arc by having your main character ultimately get what he or she wants (after overcoming the bad guys), have your hero try but fail to get what s/he wants, ultimately getting what s/he needs instead.

Some examples:

  • Schindler’s List – Oskar Schindler wants to make money exploiting Jews. Instead, he grows a soul and spends every penny he has rescuing them from the Nazis.
  • Home Alone – Immature Kevin wants to avoid responsibility–and things that scare him.  Instead, he ends up taking on the responsibility of protecting his home, and faces his worst fears, becoming more mature in the process.
  • Jurassic Park – Dr. Alan Grant wants to marry his paleontological sweetheart and pursue pure science without the messiness of children.

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About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Movies, Story Power, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tips for Writers: Frustrate Your Hero

  1. Excellent advice. I do sometimes have my characters not get what they want. They either get something else and like it or change their minds about what they want. Why I never thought to relate it to that song (which I refer to ALL the time in real life), I’ll never know. Thanks for re-blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Tips for Writers: Frustrate Your Hero — Mitch Teemley | janeyrosen

  3. Roos Ruse says:

    Superior post, Mitch! Rock on, Brother.

    Liked by 1 person

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