Character Arc

Unmet Needs

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When emotional shielding goes up, it transforms a character, causing their personality to change and their worldview to shift. How they behave towards others is driven by the belief that if they let down their guard, they will be hurt again by life’s relentless cruelty. This skewed negative outlook causes friction in the character’s relationships, stymies their ability to grow and change, and makes it harder for them achieve meaningful goals. Ultimately, this leads to a lack of fulfillment and something called unmet needs.

When it comes to understanding this element of human and character psychology, the Hierarchy of Human Needs can be an excellent tool. It’s a theory created by psychologist Abraham Maslow that looks specifically at human behavior and the drivers that compel a person to act. Separated into five categories, it begins with needs that are the most pressing to satisfy (physiological) and ends with needs centered on personal fulfillment (self-actualization). The pyramid representation of Maslow’s original hierarchy functions as a visualization tool for writers, helping them better understand what motivates their characters.

Maslow pyramid


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