Want vs need? A question you should think before writing a story

In many movies, the protagonist at the beginning of the story is in an “unbalanced” state. They are in Joseph Campbell’s so-called “ordinary world,” a world in which characters evolve defense mechanisms in order to survive and escape from psychology, usually in Act 1 ( Before the story) will come up with a “goal”, a thing he “wanted”.

Carl Jung, a psychologist, said: “The only way we can achieve” mental balance “is when a person is confronted with something that is repressed or unknown. So while the protagonist is pursuing what he wants There is something in his heart hidden or unknown “need”. When the protagonist steps into the “adventurous world” from the “everyday world,” his original defense mechanism will evade psychology and will be challenged and even defeated one by one. When the old idea is defeated, the new idea will surface, and his suppressed “need” will surface. Please see the following movie as an example (a complete story analysis, please take care)


Rick (Humphrey Bogart) was once a passionate patriotic freedom fighter, but after he was abandoned by the old Elysses (Ingrid Bergman) in Paris, he renounced all his ideals and opened a home in North Africa Bar, turning into a cynical, no-blood-no-tears businessman. Wandering between being a “heartless man” and a “sensual one,” let the lead character Rick be in an “unbalanced” state from the very beginning of the story. Later, due to the occasion, Ilsa and her husband Victor (Paul Henre) came to North Africa. At this time, Rick’s only idea is: “want” Ilsa back to her side.

When Irssa and Rick explain the details, Rick slowly relieved, aside from the cynical attitude, and their own “heart” link. Victor also helped Rick connect with his “ideal.” Let him “need” – when freedom fighters, to defeat his “want” – with Ilsa together. So, he finally decided to let Ilsa go with her husband, and then left North Africa, but also leave his cynicism, join the anti-Nazi organization, return to the ranks of freedom fighters. At the end of the day, Rick got “mentally balanced” with his “ideal.”

The Apartment:

C.C. Baxter is a good guy, but he has a bad job. To make matters worse, his apartment was also used by his chief officer to engage in some indecent acts. He did so only in the hope that the supervisors would let him be promoted to official position. More complicated, his crush colleague Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLeane) is having an affair with his company’s big boss, Jeff Sheldrake. “Good Man” and “Survivor” let the protagonist Baxter be in an “unbalanced” position at the beginning of the story. His goal: He “wants to” be promoted.

After Baxter used the apartment for his boss Sheldrake, he also got his wish. However, he also more and more like his colleague Fran. Later, he decided not to mess with the boss anymore. Although he would lose his job in doing so, his “need” – to be a good man and to be better than his “want” – was to raise the bargain. Baxter has this move at the end, allowing him to “balance” psychologically. Even better, Fran has decided to leave his boss with Baxter.

The Silence of the Lambs:

FBI agent Clarice (Judy Foster) was assigned to investigate the case of a murderous bull Bill Bill, and to get more acquaintance with the murderer she went to seek the ogre Hannibal (Anthony Hopkins). Although Clarice looks smart and capable, she is inherently murdered because her father was abused when he was on duty and was in fact very wounded. Therefore, when she was young, she left a deep shadow on the image of his slaughtered sheep on his uncle’s farm. “Ingenious FBI Agent” and “Wounded Little Girl” are the “imbalances” of the heroine at the beginning of the movie. Her goal: she “wants” to kill a wild cow Bill.

Later, the ogre Hannibal directed Clarice, external, to understand the nature of Bison Bill, the inner face of the nightmare slaughtered sheep. She began to project the wounded herself to the abducted little girl, giving Clarice the “need” to the stage. She not only saved the little girl but also captured Bill Billy and killed him. Because, to kill him, to save myself, to kill their own nightmares also. Here, her “need” has not surpassed her “want”, but the two have become one.

It is hard to find “what you need,” and it will only emerge after thinking, testing, and letting go. In order for a character to grow, “need” has to overcome “want”, or sometimes the two must be combined to achieve a “balanced” status. However, the story does not necessarily follow this pattern, sometimes it is “wanting” to win, being engulfed by one’s own desires and the story evolves into tragedy, which is another story。