Character motivation

I was reading over at Diane Gallant’s blog about the frustrations of character motivation.  It seems that others have the same problem I have:  the characters do things that totally make sense to me and I assume everyone else will totally get it, when in reality, there needs to be a little more explanation.  This has been pointed out to me quite a few times by one of my beta readers, who is always telling me to show what my characters are feeling, to get into their heads.  I have to admit, it has made the book a lot better to show my readers what my characters are doing, instead of just watching them do it.  I think it provides a lot more character development, and it lets the reader identify more with the character — because they can feel with them, instead of just watching.  And as an additional bonus, I’ve added quite a few “showing” scenes that weren’t in any of the first drafts.  Some of those scenes are actually now included in my favorite scenes catory (if there is such a thing).

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3 thoughts on “Character motivation

  1. This has been a real weakness for me. Now I need to add several scenes to my novel, too. I have to, even though I really don’t want to keep looking back. I’m using the lessons in a workbook I bought to help with characterization and character motives. And I intend to use a different approach with my next novel in order to avoid making this mistake again.

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  2. “they” always say, “Show, don’t tell,” but it’s harder than it looks some days. kudos to you for taking the advice & plugging it in.

    as for character motivation, it seems that such things should be universal in nature. it seems so easy. but i’m struggling with it myself: when I’m reading a book, i hate it when characters refuse to be heroes. reluctant is ok, but downright nasty refusal? but i didn’t want a hero jumping at the chance either. so, what have i done? created a lukewarm iffy motivational segment. well, i guess i’ll go along with this. what else do i have on my schedule right now? and that, frankly, stinks.

    sooooo….if you two have any insight or ideas or magickal spells up your sleeves, zing ’em my way 😉

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  3. Shari,
    Thanks for posting this entry. I always find it valuable to relearn the lesson of “show and tell.” But I too have recently struggled with character motivations and I have a new entry on my blog that explains how I managed to resolve it. It’s called “Why We Do What We Do: A Top 10 List.” I think Alex will find it interesting if he is, in fact, still looking for a magic spell 🙂

    gdenton.blogspot.com

    Good writing to you!

    Gary

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