E06 – Character Wants and Needs (video, show notes, transcript)
In this episode, Miss Catherine M.H. and V.E. Griffith discuss the Revision Wizards Scene Rubric, this time specifically about the sections on Character Wants and Needs for both
Books and Movies
The Wheel of Time (series), by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Star Wars (prequels 1, 2 and 3)
The Martian by Andy Weir
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V.E. Griffith 0:01
Welcome to the Revision Wizards Podcast. I’m V.E. Griffith and the awesome witch with the Black Cat is Miss Catherine MH. This is episode six, and today we’re going to be talking about the Revision Wizard Scene Rubric from episode three.
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:16
So this time we’re going to look at the characters wants and needs both generally, and in the rubric, we’re mostly going to focus on the protagonist and the antagonist. But you can use this for any of your characters in your story. So let’s start with external needs Grif. How would you define external needs?
V.E. Griffith 0:38
An external need is something the character wants, and they know they want on a physical level. It can be something basic and easy to remembe. The character might want to find shelter, or they might want to kill the antagonist. They might want to exterminate all cockroaches on the face of the earth, they might want to bring peace to the universe. For a spoiler example, take a look at like Rand al Thor from the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I’m talking about the books only because I haven’t done the TV series. Rand’s external need is to return to the Two Rivers and return to his regular life. The entire series is full of examples of how much he hates being the Dragon Reborn, how he dislikes the politics in the scheme of things and the web of lies, and how he wants to just escape at all. He forces his way through the entire story, and does what he needs to do as the Dragon. But he wants to return to just being a simple sheepherder.
Miss Catherine M.H. 1:45
And that’s a bit different if you’ve watched the Amazon Prime series. Now they’ve only done season one which follows book one. But if you’re watching it, it’s a bit different, because really, His external want is more about getting and being with Egwene. So the entire series, he’s like, must find a Egwene, must move closer to Egwene, must do whatever it is, because she will be there. That’s where we’re going. So that’s kind of where the external want for that series is on the TV show. Now, external wants are important for well rounded antagonists because you can’t forget them. In order to have a good story, you need a good antagonist. They’re not just some guy on the screen or on the page. They’re people too. So they have wants, they have needs. And so a great example, is Anakin Skywalker in the prequels. So spoiler alerts, if you haven’t seen Star Wars, sorry, His external need, the physical need was to have power to protect those he loved. He didn’t care if it came from the light side, the dark side, it didn’t matter. He wanted to be strong enough to protect people that he loved from dying. So that was his motivation to becoming Darth Vader.
V.E. Griffith 3:16
Internal needs, on the other hand, are a little harder to spot. These are emotional desires, from the deepest part of your character’s psyche. They drive character behavior, but the character may not be aware of their motivations. My favorite, favorite example again is the Wheel of Time books. I think and I know that you disagree with this, Miss Catherine, is Rand’s internal need is to be loved. He wants to be loved for who he is, and not for the power that he wields. The three women that he finds to love him Elaine, Avhienda, and Min all do so not because he is the Dragon, but because he is Rand. Yeah, he wants to be simple and returned to the Two Rivers, but he also needs that love and companionship for the simple man that he wants to be.
Miss Catherine M.H. 4:07
And so while I do agree with that, we bring up a really cool part that there can sometimes be more internal needs to a person than just one. So his romance between a Egwene fizzles out in the books and they deepen into a great friendship. It’s great respect. Great dependability on each other. They talk back and forth. They’re equals, and in the end if you haven’t read it, sorry, spoilers. His love and His need for Egwene to be safe, is what still powers him on as the Dragon Reborn. It keeps him from falling into the darkness that the Dark One wants him to be. So even up to the last of the 14 books, his internal want to make her happy and to still have that deep friendship is what ultimately almost ruins him until he realizes that she also had the same idea of, hey, if we’re both happy, we’re both winning. So that is what I believe his internal needs were. So if we look at an antagonist, because your antagonist is, once again, very important, we’ll look at Anakin again, because you know, he has emotions, because he’s a person. And antagonists are usually, you know, people, and they have emotions, too. So he doesn’t turn to the dark side, because he doesn’t quite realize what his internal need was. And that was to be loved and accepted, because over time, he was sold by his parents, he was told by the order you cannot love, it’s not allowed. You must be you know, monk status, not a Wars fan over here. Sorry, guys. But all of that festered in him because his internal need was to be loved and accepted. And when he found someone who loved and accepted him, that festering of you can’t do this, no, no, no go against that kept growing until it matched his external needs, which was to protect those that he loved. And it kind of led him to the dark side and killing a bunch of children and kind of his own family. So yeah, there is that story that surrounds antagonists. And it’s also important to know for them
V.E. Griffith 6:55
the other thing that’s important to remember for me is that sometimes you can have a force of antagonism who is not a character, and they can be harder to understand, but it’s still necessary that the author do so. The the great example that I have seen of that is the planet Mars in The Martian by Andy Weir. Mars doesn’t care if it kills him or not. It just is what it is. And, you know, Mark Watney has to cope with that using what he’s got. And that’s, that’s hard. That’s difficult because Mars is an is an inhospitable place. It is not designed for humans, obviously. But Mars doesn’t have any internal wants or needs, doesn’t have any external wants or needs. It just is. And so it’s a force of antagonism that has to be overcome. But it’s not a character. So yeah, so in internal and external wants and needs drive character behavior, though. And it’s important for us to understand them so that we can, we can understand good character behavior, well, well rounded character behavior. Their behaviors are going to lead to conflict between characters in their environment, that in turn is going to force them to make choices that bring about consequences that drive the story, and lead to the next choice. And the next consequence, the next conflict, choice and consequence, you can do it, you can use that pattern over and over and over and over in every scene of your book to drive your story-wide conflict choice and consequence.
Miss Catherine M.H. 8:47
Exactly. So look at that takes us right back around at all still lands up with the three C’s,
V.E. Griffith 8:52
it really does. And for me when I think of my scenes in that way, it makes it easier for me to organize my scenes, organize my books, and write something that is going to be engaging and enticing to the reader. I want them to turn the page to find out what the consequence is. But oh my gosh, that consequence sets up this new conflict that I have to know about.
Miss Catherine M.H. 9:16
So that does it for this week. If you’d like to become an original No, yes. Man, why am I blanking with this? If you want to become an original member of the Revision Wizards community, you can find us on patreon.com/revisionwizards. We have all kinds of benefits for you joining including professionals scene analysis and story editing for our members. And yeah, other cool goodies so go check us out. You can also find us together at revisionwizards.com You can find me at scribes-pen.com
V.E. Griffith 9:58
And you can always find me at vegriffith.com.
Miss Catherine M.H. 10:02
V.E. Griffith 10:04
Thanks y’all have a good night.