Sunday, April 21, 2013

Q is for Quest

Every great story generally involves some sort of quest. Not all of them have to involve a knight or dragons or spaceships. Some quests are more subtle than others. Sometimes characters can make it seem more like a quest than one would originally think. Heck Superhero is a great example. Heck is on a quest to save the world...except really, it's just to find his mom. What Martine Leavitt does with this book is so brilliant that I wish I had written it, because she digs right into the mind of a boy who pretends to be a superhero and sees life as though he really is a superhero as a way to deal with some very real-life issues.

Other stories it doesn't quite seem like the characters are embarking on such substantial quests, but they are (or if they really aren't then they fail as stories). While most of the time what comes to mind when one hears the word quest is some medieval adventure, quest simply means to search, to investigate, or to seek. It definitely involves some kind of adventure, whether dragons and swords are involved or not. Here are my ideas on the elements of a quest:

-Desire. Your character has to want something--A new car, a doughnut, the chance to get out of town.
-Obstacles. There has to be something (or several somethings) keeping your character from getting what they want--dragons, evil diet, the town mafia.
-Determination. Your main character must be determined to get what they want despite all the obstacles.
-Enemies. Whether your character has human enemies or robotic ones, there's got to be someone who is also determined (with a good motivation) to thwart the desires of the main character.
-Friends. Every character needs a friend--but remember that the friend cannot fight any of the major battles or conquer the foes in the quest because that's up to your main character.

In my own novel, Some Secrets Aren't Secrets, Sophie is my heroine. Her quest is to be with her little sister again and to keep a big secret. Some of the biggest obstacles are Sophie's own past issues and her inability to open up, but they also come in the form of her aunts and uncle, an ex-friend, and school staff. Sophie is determined to get what she wants. She's got enemies, and at least one friend. But she fights her own fights until the end.

Whether this post has helped you or not, it's definitely helped me put a new perspective to the structure of my book and the motivation of my characters.

What do you think are elements of a quest?

Write on!


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