In The Art of Creative Writing, Lagos Egri states:
Whatever a character does, it is for one basic purpose -- to strengthen his position in life and his security; all the chameleon-like changes for one reason only -- to remain alive, to be secure (overcome insecurities), to be happy, and most of all, to be important.
Never overlook the importance of being important.
Man has nothing more precious to defend than his self-declared importance, and he will defend it with his last breath.
This sounds like a good start to developing a character, or at least a character’s inner conflicts. In fact, this is one of the themes of the grieving woman book I want to write. With her husband gone, so is her sense of self, along with her sense of importance. She might not have been important in the world’s eyes, but she was important in her own eyes because she was important to him. She tries to find importance through other people, but in the end realizes she has to find it in herself.
So, in the book you are now reading (or writing) what makes the character feel important? What does the character do to defend his or her sense of being important? How does the character strengthen his or her position in life? How does s/he struggle to remain secure? What insecurities does s/he have to overcome? Is the character happy? What does s/he do to remain alive, both physically and mentally? Does s/he find happiness? Does s/he find importance?
Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.