Last time, we explored what goes into creating layered characters. One example I gave for the types of elements we layer into our stories was conflicting character goals:
- conflicting character goals, maybe one a conscious desire and one a subconscious longing that makes it harder for them to make progress
In other words, just as our characters can have inner and outer layers, the same applies to their goals, needs, and longings. Those goals can give them internal and external arcs.
That example led Karen to ask in the comments:
“Your point about having external needs and internal needs that might be conflicting is so interesting. Would the following be a good example? External desire – to be in a loving relationship. Internal desire – does not feel worthy of love. So, a character might be in a loving relationship, but pushes away the lover thus killing the relationship because they do not feel they deserve that love.”
Those two things—”to be in a loving relationship” and “does not feel worthy of love”—would definitely be in conflict. But “does not feel worthy of love” is more of a false belief than a need/desire.
However, that’s a great question from Karen, so let’s take a closer look: What do we mean by conflicting goals—and how do false beliefs play a role?