How To Figure Out Character Motivations - Page 2


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Thread: How To Figure Out Character Motivations

  1. #11
    Most people's motivation is self interest, so what do they think is in their interest? To keep that lovely man hanging about? To get that bastard out the door? to be rich and not have to worry about money? To be poor and not have to worry about money?

    If you know how they look at the world you know what they regard as being in their interest, and that will be what motivates them, but try and be honest about it. For example, they are not a hero because it is the right thing to do and they are good people, but because they are not very nice people who need to have people looking up to them as a hero. Much more believable and interesting on the whole.
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  2. #12
    Motivations, life choices, and goals often come from the past. What were they missing in their childhood? An unstable childhood may drive some to seek security. Poverty in their past will drive them into a profitable career. Lack of affection could lead some into multiple relationships. Etc.

    write up your character’s past on your worksheet and go from there.

  3. #13
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Think back why you added this character in the first place.
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    Chill and read. Feedback, here or there, is welcome.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by AndreaStory90 View Post
    hey folks, i was just wondering how do you figure out characters' Motivations? seem to be a bit stuck on this at the moment.

    For me, a lot of it has to do with simply asking myself "Would this character actually do this?"
    I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine that if I were them, what would I do at that point in the story.
    I also try to not assume that every character in the group will be interested in whatever quest the hero is on.
    Everybody has their own agenda...and they do not always line up with the story.
    I also talk thru my dialog as I am building a scene, so I can hear what it sounds like before I write it.

    It helps if you base characters on real people or characters you have seen. This solidifies them. Real people come with values of their own so you can predict what they would do in a given situation.

  5. #15
    If you're stuck, reverse the process. Consider the story first and then ask yourself what traits the character needs to get through the story. Once you've done that, adjust some of those characteristics to add a little bit of conflict.

    At some point my character has to rescue a young child from a burning building.
    My character used to be a fireman.

    At some point my character has to rescue a young child from a burning building
    My character is a father.

    At some point my character has to rescue a young child from a burning building
    My character feels he needs to rescue the child because he lost a child of his own

    At some point my character has to rescue a young child from a burning building
    My character hopes that rescuing the child will atone for wrecking a marriage after losing a child.


    John, used to be a fireman but quit after his own daughter died in a fire. He couldn't live with himself and eventually the pressure split the family in two. Having lived for 3 years alone, he understands now he should have been stronger. But he wasn't. Would he ever get a chance to pay back for his weakness?

    Motive: atonement.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    For me, a lot of it has to do with simply asking myself "Would this character actually do this?" I try to
    put myself in their shoes and imagine that if I were them, what would I do at that point in the story. I also try to not assume that
    every character in the group will be interested in whatever quest the hero is on. Everybody has their own agenda...and they do not
    always line up with the story. I also talk thru my dialog as I am building a scene, so I can hear what it sounds like before I write it.
    You do a lot of things I do when it comes to characters and their motivation, and I respect that. Because we are creating these
    characters, we have to look at things from their perspective and most definitely put ourselves in their shoes. Visualize them and
    their situations and find an answer to their problem that makes the most sense.

    -JJB
    ​"Strong convictions precede great actions....."

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  7. #17
    Putting myself in their shoes has caused many a course change in the story. I have it all planned out and realize that Bob would never do that because...
    and the next thing I have to alter things a tad.

    Pick a movie star who you identify with the character (or someone you know) and imagine them as your character, solidify their character in your mind.

    Characters are everything in a story
    The plot is just the stage upon which your actors perform.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    Think back why you added this character in the first place.
    Now that is sound advice, and can really add perspective when one is stuck.

    -JJB
    ​"Strong convictions precede great actions....."

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  9. #19
    I keep seeing this thread title and thinking 'Do I really need to?' . There are an awful lot of really good characters who do things without going into why they do it. People say it is to make them believable, but we all know that real people do totally unbelievable things, wilder than anything I feel the need to make up. Sure they have to be driven, but who cares what drives them? It's what they do with it that counts.
    Hidden Content

    A whole swathe of entertainment, all sorts of lengths, all sorts of stories, all with that 'Olly' twist.

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    I keep seeing this thread title and thinking 'Do I really need to?' . There are an awful lot of really good characters who do things without going into why they do it. People say it is to make them believable, but we all know that real people do totally unbelievable things, wilder than anything I feel the need to make up. Sure they have to be driven, but who cares what drives them? It's what they do with it that counts.
    For me, the key is getting to know my characters before I write them. They live in my head for a long time before they show up on paper. (Perhaps I'm a bit schizophrenic?)

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