Hmmm, character motivation ... I should be thinking about this at the moment because the book I am rewriting has problems in this area. Character motivation is not a driving force, nor is plot, as historical events sweep the people in my story along. This kinda happens in 'memoir' but memoir is usually autobiographical so character motivation is kinda still evident. This whole writing experience is very different for me as the story was not devised in my head but is based on real experience. As it is not non-fiction, some fiction must be added. And as it is not self generated fiction it is requiring some novel thinking.
Usually character motivation is not an issue. My main protagonist turns up with his or her own identity and like a sculptor I slowly chisel them out of the rock, not so much revealing, as discovering what they look like and who they really are. And the important thing for me is to respect who they turn out to be and not impose on them what I would like. Writers often say that their characters do unexpected things they hadn't planned on and this is true for me. But by respecting the character that is emerging I find it easier to write and plot. Characters will behave according to their nature and personalities and other factors like socioeconomic status, background etc... If you have a feel for 'who' they are, 'how' they will behave becomes apparent. Once you place them in the plot and throw your juicy 'precipitating event' or predicament' or 'problem' at them how they react won't be so hard to figure out. What drives them? You'll know. And it's not enough to have a juicy, awesome problem to throw at them.Do we care whether they solve it or not? What will the solution of the problem do to them? Some rules of thumb: 1) Do you like your character? 2) Do you care what happens to them? 3) Do you believe that they could do the things they are doing? If it works for you there is a good chance it will work for the reader.
Watch out for perfect people who are too beautiful to be true and never put a foot wrong. No one is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. They don't always have to do the 'right' thing. But they should be true to their own nature. They might mature, they might learn, they might change but only in response to the stimuli you, the author, applies. And if your character is doing something you don't want them to you may just have to suck it up and work it in to your story. Trust them, they know what they're doing.
Educational Resource: A Winter's Day in 1939
- Educational Resource: The Were-Nana
- Educational Resource: The Half Life of Ryan Davis
- Educational Resource: Made With Love
- Educational Resource: The House That Went to Sea
- Educational Resource: A Winter's Day in 1939
- Educational Resource: While You Are Sleeping
- Educational Resource: The Song of Kauri
- Educational Resource: Fuzzy Doodle
- Book List - Complete List of my Publications