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A multidimensional hero is at the heart of every character-driven narrative.

Because a complex hero not only breathes life into your story, but also creates a deep, personal connection with your audience. In this issue, we’ll look at why a hero’s clear goals, motivations, and flaws are so important, showing how they shape unforgettable characters.

We’ll also check out three iconic movie heroes to illustrate these points, and then you’ll get a customizable ChatGPT prompt to help you implement these concepts into your story.

Now let’s get into it.

Heroic Foundations

The depth and appeal of your hero rides on three critical elements: their goals, motivations, and flaws.

1. Clear Goal

A clear goal is essential for your hero because it anchors their journey, providing both the character and your audience with an overarching sense of purpose and direction.

This goal should be specific, measurable, and tangible, clearly defining what your hero strives to achieve within the narrative.

2. Motivations

Reflect on what fundamentally drives your hero’s heart and mind.

Motivations are the deep-seated reasons driving a character toward their goal, fueled by emotional, psychological, or moral forces.

These motivations, often more intricate than the goals themselves, are rooted in the hero’s personality, background, and life experiences.

3. Flaws

Everyone has flaws, and so should your hero because it’s these imperfections that make them feel relatable.

They’re a crucial part of bringing your hero to life, exposing their human side. Flaws can be physical, emotional, or psychological, and they need to be big enough to give the character real problems to deal with.

This struggle is what makes the audience care more and get hooked on the character’s journey.

Blockbuster & Bestselling Examples

Inception – Dom Cobb

  1. Clear Goal: Cobb’s goal is to complete a dangerous mission to plant an idea in a target’s mind in order to be able to return to his family and have his criminal record cleared.
  2. Motivations: Cobb’s main motivation is to reunite with his children and clear his name. He is driven by his love for his family and the guilt he feels for the role he played in his wife’s death.
  3. Flaws: Cobb’s flaw is his inability to let go of his past and the guilt he carries for his wife’s death. This flaw manifests in the form of his projection of his wife in dreams, which endangers his missions and the lives of his team members.

The Matrix – Neo

  1. Clear Goal: Neo’s goal is to understand the true nature of the Matrix and his role in it, ultimately becoming “The One” who can free humanity from the machines.
  2. Motivations: Neo is driven by his curiosity and desire to know the truth about the world he lives in. His love interest, Trinity, and his mentor, Morpheus, also play a significant role in motivating him to become “The One.”
  3. Flaws: Neo’s flaw is his initial disbelief and resistance to the idea that he is “The One.” This doubt hinders his ability to fully embrace his powers and responsibilities.

The Silence of the Lambs – Clarice Starling

  1. Clear Goal: Clarice aims to catch “Buffalo Bill,” a notorious serial killer, by collaborating with Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
  2. Motivations: Driven by her ambition to excel in a male-dominated field and her haunting childhood memories, Clarice seeks to save Bill’s latest victim. These motivations are intertwined with a psychological need to silence the “screaming lambs” of her past – a metaphor for her unresolved trauma.
  3. Flaws: Clarice’s flaw is a combination of self-doubt and vulnerability to Lecter’s psychological manipulation, which she must navigate to achieve her goals.

Use AI to Develop Your Heroic Foundations

Now that we’ve reviewed the three elements that set your hero apart, it’s time to apply these concepts to yours.

Here’s a ChatGPT prompt to guide you.

ChatGPT Prompt:

// edit bold text in [brackets] //

Imagine you are a master storyteller with 20 years of experience in developing breakout narratives featuring magnetic heroes. Concentrate on the crucial aspects of clear goals, motivations, and flaws to create a multidimensional hero.

Consider the following key elements for your story:

• Genre: [Insert Your Genre Here]

• Central Story Idea: [Insert Story Idea or Summary Here – including any details you might have in mind for the hero, antagonist, overarching storyline, etc.]

• Hero: [Insert Hero’s Name], a character who will be developed through the following aspects:

• Hero: [Insert Hero’s Name], a character who will be developed through the following aspects:

1. Clear Goal: Define a specific, measurable, and achievable goal for the hero that fits naturally into the overarching storyline.

2. Motivations: Elaborate on what fuels the hero’s actions and decisions, generating and diving into their emotions, desires, personal experiences, relationships, or societal influences.

3. Flaws: Identify the flaws of the hero that make them human and relatable, such as self-doubt or vulnerability, and how these flaws present challenges in their journey.

Your task is to flesh out these elements into a detailed character sketch and narrative. As you develop the story, consider how the hero’s goal, motivations, and flaws intersect and evolve throughout the narrative. How do these aspects influence their personal growth and the story’s progression? Detail how these elements are revealed and tested throughout the story, ensuring that the hero’s journey is integral to the narrative and drives the story forward.

That’s it for this Saturday.

If you’re finding value in TSS, please share it with a fellow storyteller.

See ya next week!

— Dave