In the craft book What’s Your Story – I don’t have her book with me so I apologize for possible misquoting – Marion Dane Bauer makes this observation about developing character:
Motivation is the key to character. History is the key to motivation.
Here is where it’s easier to remember some of my history – and the reasons I write the things I write. The events of my life that make me ask questions. That I’m still trying to figure out.
Recently I asked my (adult) students who want to write for children to think back to being eight – and to list the things they 1) loved and 2) were afraid of. Personally, I think those two things provide lots of fodder for stories. It’s a way to trigger your own history and motivation.
Marion Dane Bauer also provides three questions to ask when choosing a story idea (paraphrased)
1) Will the (conflict, problem, longing) cause your character to struggle? To act, to do something?
2) Is the problem (conflict, etc) something the character can solve on his/her own?
3) Does it matter? Are the stakes high enough?
Does history provide motivation?
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK