Intention and want are undervalued, yet powerful, acts of
character
that define people in their place.  Both actor and audience must have clear wants and intentions to perform and follow — or the dramatic tension will collapse.


When a character wants something that leads to the intention of fulfilling that want — which then cascades into conflict and then, inevitably, shatters into irrevocable change.

Want and intention are hot-forged links in the chain of an irrevocable conflict.

Wants drive characters beyond expectation.

Intention presses characters to act out of character.

If you’re writing a character or acting one — you must always know what your character wants.

Knowing that want provides you the intention of achieving that want and all the obstacles you have to overcome to get that want will magically form the essence of the character around you.

14 Comments

  1. Kurt Vonnegut wrote that every character in a story must want something, even if it is just a glass of water. Otherwise, why bother with the character?

  2. I would hope a character would want more than a glass of water, though, Gordon — because that want is pretty easy to achieve without much resistance unless it’s a story about a drought. SMILE! I prefer more harrowing, unquenchable, wants that people fight to achieve but can never quite get.

  3. Yes, sometimes passion has terrible consequences. Medea’s passion and want is for jealous revenge against her husband Jason. So, she murders his betrothed and her children in her overwhelming spite and hatred. We are rightfully supposed to be revolted by her wants and her ends to satisfy them.

  4. Well, I think as a character she lacked the maturity of a healthy human personality…my husband/ whoever might cheat, that shouldn’t allow me to commit a crime. If I think I can/ want to handle it – I will keep my mouth shut…if not – I will walk out – it’s as simple as that. In fact, that can’t be an excuse to perform a crime either.

  5. Medea is a mythological tale. Myths are invented to teach lessons and control the human form. The fact that Medea gets away with her murders is clearly a sea change in myth-telling and in the preservation of values and in the role of supporting a common morality — and that in itself deserves introspection and open discussion.

  6. That surprises me most, we usually see mythology praises the good and punishes the bad…with Medea escaping even after all those murders, you wonder whether it is an act of justice…

  7. Some believe that Medea is not human. She’s a witch. So the lesson is that while she isn’t human, and she isn’t one of The Gods, she escapes punishment because the lesson is that humans should not be interacting, or mating with, those from the underworld. Jason must suffer because he used her magical powers to advance his human power in the world and so the lesson to be learned in his final suffering.

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