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Motivation and Realism

Posted by LEKokko on February 12, 2017 at 10:10 AM

Chapter 2 Motivation and Realism

Character Motivation

The prime motivation factor (prime motivation) is an event or series of past events that shape the character’s personality. As writers, we can create a character and then manipulate their backstory in order to tell the story we want.

Create Characters with Built-in Conflict

Use their past, needs, and fears as fertile ground to conflict. Use their strengths and weaknesses against them.Backstory + Characterizations = Motivation for every situation.

Weak or superficial motivation means weak or superficial conflict and will result in weak or superficial characters. A situation that seems impossible will make strong conflict. Conflict reveals a character’s emotions – emotions the reader can identify. If the conflict isn’t emotional for the character, it will not be emotional for the reader.

Simple and Complex Conflicts

Simple conflicts are usually internal and characterization. Complex conflicts are external and plot.

Conflict must be personalized to the character. A vague/general motivating force will result in a vague/generalized plot. Being more specific will increase the emotional impact of your story.

 

Developing Backstory

When developing a backstory, find the motivating incidents that shaped the character. These will flesh out their:

• Belief System – faith, opinions, philosophies, convictions, worldview, and ideals.

• Values – What is important to them. Wisdom, skill, simplicity, reputation, order, independence, honour, freedom, and discipline.

• Family and Friends – Develop the family and friends that build the character you want.

• Fears and Phobias – Almost everyone has a fear of some kind. Phobias cause use to avoid situations where they would have to be met.

• Prime Motivating Incident – The is what starts the character moving in the first scene.

It is important to keep your character’s backstory in mind as you write the story. Spoon-feed backstory to the reader, don’t dump it in big chunks.

Based on Writing with Emotion, Tension, & Conflict by Cheryl St. John, Writers Digest Books, F+W Media, Inc Blue Ash, Ohio 45242, 2013

 

Categories: About Writing

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