Applying S.P.U.N. Character Development Goals

Last week, I introduced you to SPUN goals for your characters. This week, I want to take a current situation and use the SPUN goal format to explore why I did something a few weeks ago.

First a bit of background.

My granddaughter who lives with us has a skin irritation on all of her fingers. We spoke to  the doctor about it in December but couldn't get an appointment with a specialist until March 26. I hesitated due to the current health crisis but took her to this appointment. A week later, we learned we had been exposed to Covid-19!

Let's explore my SPUN motivation for keeping the appointment.


The skin peeled around the nails and in the quick of my granddaughter's fingers. Sometimes, they bled. She needed to see a specialist because our family doctor didn't know what it was, and the prescription he provided wasn't clearing it up.


V's fingers drove her crazy. She picked at them, chewed on them, applied different lotions and ointments, but nothing helped. She fussed about them a lot. The appointment was first thing in the morning, a time unlikely to expose us to other patients. Plus, people don't go to a dermatologist for illnesses.


It took forever to get this appointment. She fussed about her fingers daily, and every time I looked at her, she was chewing or picking at them. She was miserable. If we didn't keep this appointment, who knew when the current situation might improve? I hesitated to keep the appointment, but the doctor had not canceled it, either.

N=Need that must be met

I seesawed over keeping the appointment because of the threat of Covid-19. I struggled with guilt that I hadn't gotten the referral sooner. In some way, I blamed myself for not finding a way to get her relief sooner. She depends on me, and I felt like I let her down. My need to find relief for her and assuage my own guilt led me to keep this appointment.

Yep. The SPUN goal led me into a dangerous situation. It could have worked out fine. I never expected exposure to come from a member of the medical staff. I worried about other patients. That's what caught us.

First of all, we are fine. We're past our quarantine. Now, I refuse to go to any medical offices. If a staff member can expose you, then why risk it?

This example uses an actual situation, which if I was writing memoir or an essay about the Coronavirus, I might use. All characters need goals that motivate them to move toward the dangerous conflict. This is one example of using it.

Can you take SPUN and apply it to your characters? If you're struggling, try looking at a situation in your personal life or choose your favorite book and look for the character's motivations. I guarantee, you'll find a SPUN goal if the book is well-written.

And that's how you apply SPUN to your characters to get development gold!


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