Create a chain of events
First comes the study of your characters. They start existing, walking, speaking, lighting a cigarette, or chewing a pack of gum. You started talking to them and now they answer you back, so you’re ready to write their story. You must have a plot already in your head, but without a good study of your character, your story will result in something flat.
So now you need to adjust the idea you have with the characters you created. Let’s imagine you wrote a book about Alan, a drug addict that wants his family back but doesn’t want to stop using drugs. He must have a mum, dad, brothers, or sisters, right? His family, what they look like, what they want from him? Why he’s so obsessed with their love and cannot leave them behind? Maybe he’s using drugs because of them, because of something that happened?
Many questions can come when you think about your characters’ purposes and desires. However, if it was a simple desire- response, we would probably be speaking about Pavlov and his experiments with poor dogs. In a story, we’re talking about a chain; the longer this chain is between the characters and their desire- objective, the better for the reader.
Let’s take Mr. Bean as an example. The scene starts and we know he needs to accomplish an effortless task: buying a pair of shoes or washing his hands, it doesn’t matter. We start exclaiming something like “oh, come on, don’t do that” or “watch out”, but deep inside, we want him to fail. Not at the end, no. We want him to buy is pair of shoes or wash his hands. We’re not cruel. But we really want to be entertained, and without him passing through every ring of the chain of events before reaching his final goal, we won’t. As simple as that.
So, that’s Distance. Create a character obsessed with reaching a lake, put him in between a mountain with a bear hunting him, and make him allergic to bees. The Desire will push over his limits; his background will make the reader glued to the book, avid to read more of the adventures. The distance will ultimately make the story what it is: a long chain of events.
And soon, the third D, Denial.