In yesterday's post
, I talked about global wants and specific wants, and I suggested they can conflict.
It occurred to me today that the news about Mark Sanford suggests a conflict. His specific
want was to see his mistress in secret. But his global
want is to be with his mistress permanently.
The obstacle to his global want is being Governor of South Carolina. But by disappearing off the map for five days without telling his staff anything, he practically guaranteed that his secret mission to Argentina would be found out. And by doing it that way, he practically guarantees he'll have to resign as governor -- thus liberating him from his pesky governorship.
Whereas, had he simply separated from his wife and announced that he was in love with someone else, he might have lost some votes at the next election, but probably not even that -- see McCain, John.
How characters delude themselves between their specific goals and their overall goals -- how they trick themselves into getting what they won't admit they want -- is part of the fun of watching drama. The audience enjoys realizing things about the character that he doesn't realize himself; and by that effort, they draw themselves into the story.
You don't want your character to be vague, but don't be afraid to make your character self-contradictory, so long as the self-contradiction means
something -- can be parsed for meaning.