Characters in a novel are driven by different motivations. A captivating storyline will follow the character’s actions depending on these motivations. Whether the character is planning some villainy or embarking on a romantic request, there will be experiences in the past and situations in the present that place the character where he is. The best motivations are those that the targeted readers can quickly identify with because all human actions are driven by motivation, whether good or bad.
Why is the motivation needed?
· Character building
· Motivation helps the reader to know who the character is. Dr. Watson’s narrations of Sherlock Holmes investigative motivations give the reader an insight into Sherlock’s sharp intelligence and also physical traits brought on by pursuing these motivations
· Drive action
· In pursuit of his motivations, the character acts on his reasoning which differs from scene to scene, helping to build the plot.
· Create drama
· By acting to achieve his desires brought on by the motivation, the character shifts the story to different settings and people, which creates drama and anticipation in the story.
· Character growth
· Motivations can change the character. In pursuing revenge for his mistreated fiancée, the character in a Study of Scarlet changes from a humble cowboy to one who is willing to commit murder to achieve the revenge.
Creating character motivation
There are several questions that can help an author develop character motivation.
- What is the motivation?
Is it revenge, a pursuit of wealth, world dominance, or romance? The motivation can set the mood of the novel.
- Where did it come from?
The character might be driven by a motivation coming from within, for example, a pursuit of romantic love in Romeo and Juliet. The motivation could also be external, meaning the character has been driven to action by the action of others, for example, Jason Bourne going after his wife’s killers.
- How does it reflect on the character?
Motivation builds on a character’s past experiences, personality, and goals in the story. The actions done from this motivation can portray different traits of the character which builds the character in different ways as the plot progresses.
- How will it affect other characters?
The character does not exist alone in the story. His interactions with and actions towards other characters in the story will be driven by his motivation.
Readers will relate to basic motivations like love and revenge but are not overly enthused by them. A unique motivations like criminal acquisition of wealth grab the attention of the readers as they follow the character’s actions in achieving these motivations.