My wonderful student Debbie had a story published at More.com. It’s a touching story about overcoming illness and how it affects the patient and their family but more importantly it’s about experiencing your defining event.
One aspect of developing characters that I focus on when developing characters is asking writers to find a “defining event” for their main characters. In my book, How To Write A Screenplay In 10 Weeks, this question, “what is a defining event for your character ?” is used to find the character’s motivation in an organic way. Clearly, there are always several choices, but every life-changing experience, whether “good” or ‘bad” causes big changes, and understanding what happened and how it changed your character is a powerful way of learning the key to how your character operates.