The next step is find out the character’s motivation. So I’ve done this but hit a major snag.
The huge problem is that I’ve added a new character who introduces a whole new barrel of conflict and developments. So it means for now I’m treading water a bit. I think I’m going to sack this character. Lesson – never introduce new conflicts to a rough draft unless you are prepared to write a story. People, I just want to complete this sucker. It’s not prize winner, not a literary work of fiction – it’s a simple story for me to learn how to get editing right. If you must introduce a new character or conflict know it may mess with your story plan and you may end up with a brand new story. So do what you think best.
However let’s focus on character motivation – the main thing is know why your characters behave the way they do and give plenty of reason. This is really where character development ties in.
There are lots of resources on the internet so there is no point me listing stuff. A lot of it is rubbish but then one person’s rubbish can be another person’s treasure. As I said the main reason is answering the question WHY a character does what he or she does.
This is a huge weakness of mine so I can see why Faber has this second week in the course – you know I’m using their outline. When I critique work on Scribophile my biggest question is WHY DID THE CHARACTER DO THIS? Now it may take some time for the writer to figure out – maybe not the first, second or third draft depending on how many a person does – however by the final draft we should know the character’s motivation.
Remember this differs from their purpose or goals. In theory it’s very very simple, or so the writing blogs and books will tell you that. They will bleat examples from best-sellers and classic works, and give piss-poor example like Goal – I want a job. Why? To pay my bills. Goal- I want overtime Why? To afford that new car on lease.
In reality it’s difficult and tedious to do – a real chore.
Once wrote what I think is one of my finest stories to date. A regency story and the tutor came back with the feedback – Spot on with everything however she told me my main character is CAPRICIOUS. The reader must know why she behaves in certain ways.
I had developed this character but I hadn’t given reasons for her behaviour within the story – I was rather carried away with the setting and drama.
Coming back to my present novella – I think the first step was to do character development. I’ve done a bit of it – not too much as to bore myself silly (I’m not that an obsessive a writer – its suppose to be fun). Now figuring out motivation and downgrading any new characters which will cause me further work. Just me, call it lazy writing.
For example in my present work I thought the motivation was my female character wanted to work and be known in her own right (she gets a job) and her husband wants a stay-at-home wife (he wasn’t pleased or a happy bunny). On later reflection it sounded like story goals and wants to me.
This is where I get confused, so I go one step deeper and ask why? Because I’ve done the character development I know it’s partly because the wife has gone to college and wants to keep up with her peers. She likes attention. Her husband had an unstable background so he wants a nice home and family environment to feel stable. So it can get muddled on some levels.
Sometimes I think their motivations are not deep enough but you know what? I don’t think it matters because different things motivate different people. As I said it is easy to do piss poor examples from blogs however when it comes to writing it’s hard.
How can we do this?
Well if you should have a character bio/character development sheet/notes/scribbles/whatever for each character and there you should have put down their story goal. That may give you an inkling to WHY they do things.
Remember it can be very simple or complex. It may not even be heroic but don’t let your characters go without motivation.
Just ask THE REASON WHY? Perhaps that may be good enough for now. All this is story wide at the moment. At some point we shall hit structure!
Also remember this flows from what you have already written in your draft. The character development is based on your draft but deepened by any other factors or stuff you want.
Is it working for me? Yes, in some ways. You may not agree with characters but understanding their motivation is key. These are why some mediocre writers get published and are on the best sellers list. They things right at this level – it may be cliché driven drivel and piss poor writing but they got the basics rights.
Character goals, story purpose, wants and motivation are key. Add in a few flaws and even if you don’t it’s still good to go and people will understand your work. Hint- love or loathe, this is why Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey work. The authors got it right on this level.