Character Motivation

Today’s entry is a play on words. We speak of character motivation in writing fiction. This refers to a character’s reasons for doing what he does. 

When creating characters, it is essential that we understand the motives behind their actions. When we do, we will know what responses they will make to any given situation. We will also know how to set up conflicts in such a way that will reveal our character’s motivation. 

Character motivation is the reason a character does something in your story. If, for example, you decide to send your character to China, you must first ask yourself, “Why does my character go to China?” The answer might be that she has a missionary friend there whom she wants to visit. Or the answer could be a host of other possibilities. 

Just as we are interested in our character’s motivation, so is God interested in ours. In fact, we will be judged on our heart motives, not necessarily on our actions. Two people can perform the same action – for example, giving money to the poor. One person may do so out of a pure heart motive to help his fellow man; another person might give out of a desire to appease his conscience for not obeying God’s call on his life to work among the poor. 

In fiction and in real life, then, character motivation is paramount.

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2 thoughts on “Character Motivation

  1. Hi MaryAnn, How timely this is! I am teaching my students fiction and we are discussing character development. Thank you for this post:) Blessings!

    October 8, 2009 at 3:59 PM

    • I never cease to be amazed at God’s perfect timing! 🙂 Thanks, Karen, for sharing. Your students are blessed to have you as their teacher.

      October 8, 2009 at 4:08 PM