Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Motivation: What drives your characters?

Of utmost importance in creating a book that resonates with readers, 
you must know your characters inside and out.

On the "inside," it's so important to know your characters motivations-the reasons your characters do anything. It brings them to action and directs their choices.

The why.

Who would be motivated by this beauty?

If you said a rabbit-you'd be right on. This is an homage to Easter bunnies everywhere.

What about your characters?

There are two main categories: external and internal

**As I was putting together a list, I ran across this awesome list by A. Rasley.
Go check it out here: http://www.aliciarasley.com/artmotive.htm

External:  the primary motivation 

         Survival/safety: food, water, escape from danger, air, space, rest
Physical comfort: shelter, warmth, good food, health
Pleasure: sex, great food, culture, games
Dominance: power, social standing, competition, respect
Greed: wealth, materialism, collecting, excellence
Curiosity: learning, searching, investigating
Mastery: perfectionism excellence, conquest, discipline, achievement
Reproduction: children, creativity, family-building

Internal: the primary motivation

Autonomy: self-sufficiency, freedom, non-confinement
Conformity: security, cooperation, loyalty, clan
Love: connection, passion, sex, mirroring, approval, giving
Revenge/Justice: righting wrongs, recognition of grievance, vengeance
Guilt/denial of guilt: responsibility, shame, punishment, redemption, forgiveness
Identity: self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-protection
Surcease: conflict avoidance, peace, escape from anxiety, death
Spirituality: fetishism, religion, transcendence, transformation
Growth: decay, aging learning, maturation, wisdom
 Ambition: insecurity/anxiety, fear of failure, inferiority, stress Vindication: rationalization, success, proving self, apology

          Remember it isn't WHAT a character does like jumping off a cliff or sending someone flowers- It's WHY a character does it: guilt, love.

What are some of the recent motivations you've used in your book?
What are some motivations you've seen in a book you recently read?


Donna K. Weaver said...

Great post, Cindy. That internal motivation is huge. The better it's handled the more real the character seems, especially if the actions are things we can relate to.

Canda said...

Thanks, Cindy! These are great lists--I constantly have to remind myself to examine these in scenes.