More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Motivation--Why We Do What We Do

I saw an agent recently comment that the main trouble writers have with their books is character motivation. What makes people and your characters do what they do?

Here are a few quick tips to make it (hopefully) easier for you to deal with correct character motivation:

1.) Know what your character's deepest desire is. What does s/he desperately want to the point it's a need.
2.) Know what your character is willing to do to get that deepest desire. Will s/he lie, cheat, steal, kill--or what might s/he sacrifice to get closer to achieving that deepest desire?
3.) What character flaw will become noticeable (or troublesome) during your character's journey towards getting that goal? Will the flaw grow, be conquered or in a strange way help your character reach the goal?
4.) How will your character (keeping their deepest desire in sight) deal with conflicts along the way toward potentially achieving the goal? Will there be a conflict so dramatic your character temporarily loses sight of his/her deepest desire?
5.) When (and if) your character achieves their deepest desire will that be enough to satisfy them or will they ruin it because they themselves incorrectly identified their deepest desire?

Hopefully those help you get your mind wrapped around your characters' motivations. Now (for kicks) compare your character to yourself--what's your deepest desire and what are you willing to do to get there? (<--minus the references to lying, cheating, stealing and murder--we do write fiction! ;-) Transfer that info into goal-setting and go, go, go!



SarannaDeWylde said...

That would be an interesting worksheet to fill out for the character before you start writing to see how it changes and if it changes.

Robin said...

Once again, thank you Shannon. For FAE NIGHTS, I went ahead and put up my scene that stresses Eve's motivation and also will introduce a new twist. For a Muse, you rock.

Gail Hart said...

Shannon, thanks for giving me a slightly different way of getting at the issue of chracter motivation!

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