- 184 Views
- 0 Comments
- in Fiction Writing
- by Shennandoah Diaz
Dynamic and interesting characters grab a reader’s attention. To truly be dynamic and to move a story forward characters need to be driven toward some goal whether it be revenge, success, freedom, or some other worthy goal. They need to be motivated to move from one point to the next and whether or not those motivations are revealed to the reader, their very presence validates the plot and creates momentum.
So what motivates a character?
Characters (and real people too) are driven by a number of different things:
- Ideals: Characters with strong beliefs will fight, flee, work, lie, steal, and more in order to uphold the integrity of the things they believe in. Whether it be a sense of duty, belief in the strict interpretation of the law, or devotion to scientific inquiry staunchly held beliefs often lead to great (and entertaining) conflict.
- Desires: Fame, fortune, love, lust, freedom, power–they all motivate us in both positive and negative ways (and sometimes both). Your main character’s base desires will often conflict with those of the antagonist or minor characters.
- Needs: Food, water, and shelter are base needs for all of us. Starvation, exposure to the elements, dehydration will all motivate a character to do what it takes to acquire those items.
A well developed character will have multiple motivations and often their own motivations can conflict with each other as well as with those of the other characters. That’s what creates those intense situations where tough decisions have to be made, which in turn raises the level of drama in your story.
From the beginning your character’s motivations will play into the story. A great opening puts the characters desires either out of reach or directly at odds with another character right off the bat. Content characters are boring and have nothing to drive them forward. The more dissatisfied or lacking the character, the more driven they are to change their situation.
Take a look at your characters. Do you know what motivates them? Does it conflict with another character(s)? Can you add more obstacles and raise the stakes based on what your character wants most? The more motivated you can make your character, the more exciting and driven your plot will become.