Motivation: A Good Kick in the Pants
If you're anything like me, you can find a million excuses why you don't want to wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, or fold the laundry. Why you don't want to exercise, why you don't want to eat right, why you don't want to see the doctor.
Then, something motivates you. A kick in the pants. Company is coming, so you have to clean the house. You want to fit into that new dress for a friend's wedding, so you have to lose weight.
Sometimes, we all need a wake-up call. An event that pries open our eyelids and makes us get out of bed in the morning.
Your characters aren't any different. They don't move and think in a vacuum. Something, someone, made them like they are.
When you're working on characters' motivations, Diana Brandmeyer already gave you great advice. BECAUSE. It's really that basic.
I'm asking you to zoom out and take a look at the big picture. What is the big turning point in their lives? The kick in the pants that's going to fundamentally change them. What is going to motivate them to grow, to become a better person. Because if the character doesn't evolve, the story stagnates.
Writers struggle with this. Their characters wake up different one morning. They're following God now. They know how to deal with the person who has been plaguing them. They solved the mystery.
But life isn't like that. And it shouldn't be for your characters. Think back on your own life. To the lowest moments. What was it that caused you to change? There is your motivation. Was it a loved one who got in your face? A life or death emergency? A blow-up with your spouse?
This gets to the heart of emotional and spiritual motivations. It's digging deep and discovering what your character's kick-in-the-teeth was. What motivates them to change. To want to change.
How have you discovered your characters' emotional and spiritual motivations?
Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their two daughters. Her son is a U.S. Marine. She enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her blog, The Story behind the Story, at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), and LinkedIn. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.