Monday, December 10, 2012

Character Motivation and Conflict

In a novel, each of the main characters, bad and good, must have strong motivation. This is what will drive the person to act and react to the events in the plot. The character must want something badly and must have a valid reason for wanting it. This may be reinforced or complicated by secondary motivations.
For example, Grace wants to be head of her company. Okay, but so do a lot of people. What makes Grace’s ambition stand out? How far would she go to achieve it? Why? Maybe her father was repeatedly passed over for promotion and became bitter, eventually killing himself, and her mother had to scrub floors to feed Grace and her brother.
The reason doesn’t have to be melodramatic, but it does have to be strong. To develop this story further, what if her father thought he was rejected unfairly, perhaps because he was handicapped or something that might have caused prejudice?
Grace would share his beliefs, but perhaps as the story unfolds, she finds he was merely incompetent. How would that affect her? Would she have difficulty believing it? Would it change her views? Would she begin to look more closely at herself? These are the kinds of things that make stories interesting and draw readers in—conflict and motivation.


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

And conflict doesn't mean being mad. I see that a lot in writing. Conflict is so much deeper, mad is just a reaction.

Creating motivation is fun, challenging and oh-so important.

Without motivation, what?

Nice, quick lesson, Ellis. Thanks

Ellis Vidler said...

Thanks for commenting, Leslie. I'm with you--anger doesn't do it. Motivation is a certainly a challenge
for me. It's something I have to work at.