Yearning: What is it that your lead character does not have, but yearns for?

A yearning is a desire for something that you do not have and until you acquire  it your life feels incomplete.  In James Scott Bell’s book “Conflict and Suspense”, he talks about how important it is to make your lead character come to the book with a yearning that predates the story. “The Lead brings this to the tale from her past.  What this does is enable you to hit the ground running when you start your novel.  The character already has trouble inside her, in the form of yearning unfulfilled’.

Creating a yearning allows for character actions that are unpredictable which engages the reader’s interest from the start and through out the rest of the story.  Bell continues to explain that ” Some people say that what you wanted to be when you were twelve is where your true yearning lies’.  That is the truth for me.  I have always wanted to be a writer (and teacher) since I was old enough to read and write.  Through out all the different endeavors I have engaged in that yearning has stayed with me like a shadow pressed to my side, loyal and faithful, forever unfaltering.  Yet life (family, the need to pay my bills, and other responsibilities ) always seemed to get in the way.

This yearning inside your character should become a source of inner conflict.  Bell says ” Don’t ignore this soil for conflict.  It’s your chance to pay amateur psychologist with your lead character and make him all  the richer because of it’.  Touching our reader’s emotions with our stories must come from our understanding of what drives a person to do the things she does or does not do and yearning is usually mixed up in that motivation somewhere.  Creating conflict by developing obstacles that prevents the lead character from obtaining the object of  her yearning is one of the many ways to keep the reader hooked enough to say ” I couldn’t put it down’.  And to hear that statement -to me as to any writer-  is  truly a yearning fulfilled!

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