When I was a child I didn’t yearn for dolls or fancy dresses. I wanted to feel special, to feel loved. To be treated as an equal to my older brother.
As a teen I wanted social acceptance which was never going to happen because I dressed in old-fashioned homemade clothes. On top of that I was painfully shy. When I realized that college might be an option, I yearned to go anywhere that got me out of the home.
As you can see, my longings had to do with being loved, being accepted and escaping home.
Your characters must have yearnings that compel their interests and desires. These yearnings need to be so powerful that the reader senses them and identifies with them. They also must present fairly early in the work so as to establish the motivations behind what your character says and does.
Your task is to take a character that will appear in a story. Put the name at the top of the page. Then create a list of at least five yearnings that would drive that individual’s actions.
Choose the most dynamic thing on the list. The one that could spur the most controversy. Maybe even get your character in trouble.
Begin writing, keeping in mind that the yearning appears early on. Do not directly state the yearning, but rather find a way to show it through dialogue or action.
Reread. Does it shine forth? Can you feel the character’s desires?
Have fun with this one.