At their most basic, stories are usually about a person or people who want something and can’t get it easily. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
suggests five categories of wants, which are interrelated:Physical
: food, shelter, survival, sex, etc.Safety
: freedom from war or natural disaster, health, money, etc.Love
: from family, partner, social group, etc.Esteem
: respect, independence, status, etc.Self-actualization
: ability to accomplish a goal, understand the world, be creative, etc.
If you need an idea for a story where your protagonists can’t always get what they want, here are a few:
• This is a one-act comic stage play with no fourth wall that begins as a bride at the altar is waiting and hoping that someone will object.
• This is a disaster novel in which the story bifurcates at major survival decisions by the protagonist, and only one outcome is successful.
• This is a dark suspense story about someone raised in a cult preparing for the end of the world, and who, after a crisis of faith, decides to destroy the cult from within to prevent the end of the world.
— Sue Burke