I’ve been thinking a lot about motivations lately.*
Remember last week, when I was talking about all those drafts I did of that one story, none of which were working? Looking back now, with the clarity that comes when you stop working on something, I can see the problem: none of the main characters in those drafts had any real motivation to make the choice I was offering them. At least, no motivation that I can understand.** They were there, the choice was before them…and all they could muster was a shrug.
Not exactly compelling reading.
The new story, the one I actually finished, does not have that problem, and I think that’s why it worked in the end. The main character has very good reasons—if slightly mad ones—for making the choices she does. I can very much understand her motivations, hard and violent as they are. There is something driving her.
No one in fiction should do things ‘just because’. Especially not villains. Nothing makes me want to drive to an author’s house and punch them in the neck faster than a bad guy who is bad ‘just because’. Or because he’s crazy, like that’s an excuse. Madness has a method, though it might not be one that we can fathom. Even pop culture’s Patron Saint of Chaos, the Joker, does things for a reason.
Today’s challenge, then, is as follows: pick a supporting character from one of your pieces. Not the main character, not this time. Other people move your story as well, so let’s give them a little screen time. Considering the role that character plays, the things they do in the story, what is their motivation? And it better not be ‘because they’re a convenient plot device to help/hinder the hero’. Or I will find you.***
Now go forth and write. This is going to be a good week. I can feel it in my bones.
*Not mine. I already know I’m powered by coffee and fantasies of world domination.
**One of them had a reason, but since it’s not one I feel strongly about, I found it kind of boring to write. Funny, isn’t it, how our own experiences have that effect.
***Or I will as soon as I dig out from Sheila’s Brush****.
****It occurs to me that this is probably not a common expression. Where I come from, this is a storm that comes just after Saint Patrick’s Day, and usually marks the last hurrah of winter. This year, I think Sheila traded her brush for a big-ass club. With nails in it.