The dictionary definition of motivation is the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something (Merriam Webster). Deb Dixon, in Goal, Motivation and Conflict, tells us “Motivation is the “why.” Why do characters want something? The motivation is what drives characters to achieve their goals.” She also tells us that motivation is both an internal and an external concept.
Your characters must be motivated towards a goal. Otherwise, they will just be dancing around on the page, happy and carefree with no worries. How do you spell b-o-r-i-n-g? They need to be moving towards or working towards a goal and the reason for that goal is what is motivating them. I think this holds true in real life as well, not just simply in our fictional characters.
Some days, when the words are flowing through my mind faster than my typing fingers can keep up, I never question what motivates me to write. To me, writing is like breathing: I have to do it or I will surely die. My tag line for this blog is Writing is my oxygen. I mean that.
Then there are days where I can’t get my mind to tell my fingers what to type. My brain is clouded, cluttered, and non-cooperative. But even on those frustrating days when the words don’t come easily, I still never have to question my motivation to write. I just have to or I know I will die. Sounds melodramatic, doesn’t it? Yeah, that’s me: Melodrama’s my middle name. You thought it was Mary, didn’t you? Na-uh! Margaret-Melodrama Jaeger.
If I were a character in a novel and Deb Dixon was analyzing my character motivation, it might go something like this: External motivation: needs to write in her blog everyday so she doesn’t die. Internal motivation: writing is the one thing that is mine and mine alone, that gives me unlimited pleasure, and makes me feel worthy of living. I need to write just like I need to breath.
I think I’ve got this one; no worries. Now, applying it my characters may be a tad more difficult. And it should be. Otherwise my characters will be – here’s that word again – boring!
My quote from today is from ubersuccesful writer Barbara Kingsolver: “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is to live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.”
What I hope for is the ability and freedom to write until I take my last breath. Seems to me like my hope and my motivation are pretty much the same thing!