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I think of real life people I know, or real life people I have researched. What drives them? And once I create
characters their drive has to tie into the plot and theme.
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.
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.