Monday, August 10, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Gutless

Today's guest post is by best-selling, award-winning author DiAnn Mills. You can connect with her at

By DiAnn Mills

You’re an excellent writer. You’ve spent hours developing your character, but something’s missing. Frustration is eating a hole into your creativity because your character is too proud to admit he might not be perfect. 

You have:
  •        Researched your character’s personality.
  •        Interviewed him and asked tough questions.
  •        Developed a unique voice and dialogue.
  •        Established a setting that promises to spin the story into    a whirlwind of action.

But the character is guarding his weaknesses and flaws. He won’t divulge one moment of backstory, and you’re helpless to discover his motivation for any behavior. It’s time to hit the psychology books. After all, this closed-mouth character may be the best one you’ve ever created.
Flaws and weaknesses in human nature stem back to creation. God created us with three needs: relationships, significance, and security. Those needs are supposed to be satisfied by Him. But Adam and Eve kicked off their own program of relying on God. The question is how does your character fulfill his basic needs that don’t factor God into the equation?

The following is a list of those weaknesses that your character may use to fill the empty spots in his life. Where does your character fit?
  •        Money
  •        Power
  •        Sex
  •        Material acquisition
  •        Work, relationships, education, and aesthetic values

Your character uses his weaknesses to satisfy unmet needs. Characters have unmet needs that fall into these categories.
  •        Survival – the need to have continued existence
  •        Security – the need for emotional and economic                  stability
  •        Sex – the need for intimacy
  •        Significance – the need to amount to something and be      worthwhile
  •        Self-fulfillment – the need to achieve goals
  •        Selfhood – the need for a sense of identity

Once the writer is able to discover weaknesses and unmet needs, then motivation slips into an issue of backstory. Human motives have been categorized into four areas, and these areas extend into each one.
  •        Biological
  •        Social
  •        Cognitive
  •        Spiritual 

So take a look at that stubborn character. What is his basic need? Is it relationships, significance, or security? Or a combination? What does he use as a Band-Aid to cover up what’s lacking in his life? What category does his unmet need slide into? Now, what motivates your character into action?


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. She is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

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