Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Motivation Makes the World Go Round...

Or at least it keeps the characters moving.


Last post was about external goals. Many of you commented on internal ones too, which led me to think about the whole process.


A character having an external goal must first have a motivation. This is delved into pretty well in the book GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. I haven't read this book, but the gist of it is that every character having a goal must have a motivation for achieving that goal, and in their pursuit of that goal, there must be a subsequent conflict.

Your protagonist's (or even antagonists) desire to reach their goals can stem from some sort of internal conflict or value.

For example, in The Bad Boy's redemption my PI protagonist is someone who believes strongly in justice. Therefore, when a client's husband wrongs the protag's sister, she investigates him and discovers that he's shady. And so she becomes determined to bring this man down.

Her motivation stems from two things: one, her value of believing in justice and two, her internal conflict of being judgmental (it's a conflict because she's a Christian and we're supposed to be careful about that kind of stuff). The protag's motivation compels her to accomplish her goal, which should lead to some juicy conflict. In the story, that conflict comes in the form of one hot cop who wants to stop my PI's investigation.

So going back to motivations, what makes your characters tick? Why do they need to acheive their goal? I'd love to hear about what you're working on.

22 comments:

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Congrats on finishing you book!

As I revise my first book, I'm faced with the same questions about my character's motivations and goals.

My main character wants to escape from living with a grandmother who doesn't want to care for her and from her mother who is retarded. She thinks that her life long boyfriend and starting college will be her means of escape. But unexpected events may leave her holding the Old Maid card.

Jessica said...

Hey Donna,
You're up early. :-)
Funny about the Old Maid card. So, are you writing a YA novel then?

Janna Qualman said...

I saw your 100%, too! Did it just happen? Your story sounds great, btw.

My characters always seem to be motivated by happiness, by the search for it. And, naturally, lots of somethings tend to get in the way. ;)

Jessica said...

Hey Janna,
No, I finished a few weeks ago. Now it's time for revisions. LOL

It's great that you have something to get in the way. Makes the reader want to find out what happens!

Kathryn Magendie said...

In TG - Vk's goals are to find a belonging, home, family -and even when she gets those things, she fights against it - because she thinks she wants the home and belonging in the holler with momma --

I see your fave movie is Last of the MOhicans - part of that was filmed here in WNC!

Jessica said...

Really? Oh man, I LOVE the scenery in that movie. It's so breathtaking!
Your book sounds great. The writing is provacative. Congrats again! :-)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great post, J. The Donald Maass book I just finished says when you can get your internal and external motivation/goals/conflict to peak at the same time, it's really powerful and makes the story & characters more memorable.

I'm revising my 83K womens fiction ms right now. Women writer friends struggling with crazy conflicts as they seek authentic voices/lives.

Jessica said...

Your story sounds good! Something all of us women can relate to, I think. :-)

Yeah, I'm definitely appreciating your tips from Maas's book. I hope you keep them coming!

anita said...

I can’t believe I missed two whole posts. Eeps. Forgive me my negligence. :-)

In my current WIP, my hero’s inner and external conflict end up butting heads. He takes a trip on an oceanliner to save his family’s business (external) and decides while he’s away from home he’ll use this time alone to figure out his feelings of attraction for his childhood pal, the heroine, feelings which he really doesn’t want to face (internal).

But then the heroine stows away onboard and he ends up stuck with her in his stateroom 24/7. So he’s forced to face his growing attraction to her while in the process of trying to protect her from a dark secret in her past that’s just resurfaced, making it ever more difficult for him to achieve his original goal of saving the family business.

That sounded confusing, didn’t it? Heh. So, when do I get to read Bad Boy? You’ve got me intrigued now!

Jessica said...

Hey! What are you doing home? :-) Hehee. Your blurb didn't sound confusing to me and I like how you labeled the external and internal.

Trust me, I'll be sending Bad Boy your way when I iron out the numerous kinks. :-)

Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

anita said...

Heehee. I work a half-day today. So I'm going in around 12:30-ish.

Can't wait to read Bad Boy!

TTYL...

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Christina Berry said...

I'm motivated to do a better job of blogging when my friend says how cool my new blook--short for blog look!--is. ;-)

In the middle of edits and preparing to teach at my first conference. I'll keep the GMCs in mind with the edit.

Jessica said...

Wow, teaching at a conference sounds pretty cool!
Yes, your blook looks really, really good! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Terri Tiffany said...

I have taken all of my books and shelved them for now--I know--how awful but I needed space from them so I can then go back and take a fresh look.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love Deb Dixon's book! I always re-read it every year. :)

Jessica said...

Terri,
Don't feel bad. After I finish a manuscript I always take a break, usually a few weeks, so that I can go and read it with fresh eyes. I think it's smart of you to do that.

Jessica said...

I wonder if I should read it too. I'm really bad at reading craft books, but I've heard so much about that one...

Eileen Astels Watson said...

You're making me think, Jessica. Maybe that's my problem with my current wip. I haven't fine-tuned their motivation. Considering I studied GMC is this pretty bad!!!

Jessica said...

LOL
I'm sure your motivation is fine. It seemed fine in the one I read, though I actually haven't studied GMC too much. I need to though.
Is the current one the one that's on your counter?

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jessica -

Just a quick note to let you know I've given you the Premio-Dardas award. The details will be on my blog tomorrow.

I learn so much as I watch your writing journey. How you juggle marriage, motherhood, and writing is amazing.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Ooh, an award?
See how my ears perked up? LOL

You know what though? I don't really juggle them because I definitely try to put my marriage and kids first. I usually write during naptime and that works very well for me.

Now if I get published, then I'll be juggling! LOL