Pull up a chair and get comfy and I'll tell you why. Are you ready?
Because nobody does anything without it.
That's it. Think about it. We all have a motivation for anything. Toss me some and I'll show you.
Eat ice cream:
It tastes good and we like to taste sweet things. Indulgence.
Put on a coat:
It's cold out and we want to be warm. Comfort.
Read a book:
We like to shut out the world and take an adventure. Longing.
Okay, those are silly, but you get the point. Even for the most basic things, there is motivation.
Motivation is the reason why a character is seeking a goal. If you know their motivation, you understand their goals.
Knowing the motivation first can help you plot the story. That's why I write a back story for my main characters before I begin to plot or decide anything beyond that first "what if". Writing that back story reveals events in their childhood that impacted them in a negative way. It reveals secrets they don't want anyone to ever know. And it reveals the lie the character believes about themselves.
From there, keeping the motivation in front of me, I can find the goals and conflict for my story. Without realistic motivation, the goals aren't believable. Coincidence can't replace motivation. And a strong motivation is why readers follow a character throughout the story.
Readers can relate to motivation. They may not ever seek the goal your character is, but they can relate to his/her motivation. Some universal core motivations are:
- Belong: to be in the relation of a member, inhabitant; to have the proper qualifications; to be appropriately placed.
- Confidence: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing; or belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.
- Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
- Needed: deemed necessary.
- Power: (can be related to sex) great or marked ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something; Strength, might, force; the possession of control or command over others; authority.
- Security: freedom from danger, risk, from care, anxiety, doubt, financial cares, or from want; well-founded confidence. something that secures or makes safe; protection; defense.
- Self-actualization: the achievement of one's full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world.
- Worth: good or important enough to justify; usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose.
There are other motivations, but these are some to get you thinking. Join the conversation. What core motivations have worked for you?
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Novelist and playwright, Ane is the executive director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a new community theater and president of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and her Amazon author page.