Please excuse any mess around here while blog is undergoing damage repair.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March Madness, Part 3--Motivating The Players

Sorry for the picture repeat, but I was far too busy watching K-State battle their way into the Elite Eight last night to search for a new one. On Wednesday, I discussed the internal and external goals of the players and how important both are to them winning the game. The same holds true for their motivation. Obviously, the coach is an example of an external motivator, especially Frank Martin. But what really drives the players to give it their best effort comes from inside. It might be a desire for success after years of losing. Or, it might be jealousy of a rival team. Whatever it is, it must be strong enough to push them through round after round. As authors, we have to give our characters strong and believable motivations to keep fighting toward their goal for three hundred or so pages. I failed at this in my first draft. Just ask my beta readers. My protagonist makes some decisions that most people wouldn't make. What I thought was a strong and believable enough motivation for her to do so, wasn't. My beta readers didn't buy it. If our readers don't believe in our characters motivations, they won't root for them. In fact, they won't even care about them, and we certainly don't want that, do we? What motivates your characters? Is it enough to carry them through to the end? Have a great weekend!

29 comments:

Mahmood said...

Just dropped in again. Best wishes.

Heather Sunseri said...

This is very thought provoking for me today, Susan. Motivation is sometimes difficult for me - making sure that the right motivations propel my MC into her decisions.

Dominique said...

A curious question, motivation. My MC's motivation tends to cause her to want to give herself up in some sort of martyr act. Her actions, it would seem, are more motivated by other characters talking her down and explaining that they need her to stick around. I like to think I've got everyone's motivations pretty well figured out,but I guess I'll have to see what my betas say.

Have a great weekend. :)

strugglingwriter said...

Giving your characters believable motivations for their actions is a good way to build suspense and drama in your plots.

You have a great weekend too!

Bane of Anubis said...

That was a crazy game... Pullen was unbelievable for KSU -- after Crawford hit that near half-court 3 for Xavier to send it into 2OT, I thought it was over.

Elana Johnson said...

This is so true. I just read a quote on Shannon's blog about the inward battle. That's what it is. I like to create internal conflict in my characters, like choosing between their mom and dad, to keep them moving forward, making choices, finding their way.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I keep working at it.

Glynis said...

It is hard to stay on the path of believable at times. My pov became so perfect, she annoyed the heck out of me. I had to give her a flaw, I hope my beta reader will like the change in her.

Nancy said...

In my last story, I was quite conscious of my main character's motivation. It is what moved her on. The whole book was pretty much about that. In my other books, I didn't succeed as well.

Angie Muresan said...

Motivation is one of those things where I always feel I either make it too strong as a characteristic, or not strong enough. I need to find a balance.
Have a beautiful weekend, Susan!

Carolyn V. said...

I'm revising my wip and realzing that some of my characters don't have enough motivation. It's kind of sad, but I will have to rework it. Thanks for the advice Susan. =)

Dara said...

Good post. I'll have to re-examine my character's motivations.

T. Anne said...

I have to hone in on this. I'm starting to lose steam with some of my characters and this is exactly why. PS, still love the shoes.

Tamika: said...

I'm at the stage where I'm weaving in more internal conflicts. My MC could use a few more jolts!

Julie Dao said...

I think internal conflict motivates a lot of my characters. Just the desire to understand more about themselves and how they got to be the people that they are. :)

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great points. Without proper motivation, a story will fall flat really quickly. And, btw, I'm not even a Kansas fan and even I got sucked into that game last night, lol.

Dawn Simon said...

What motivates our characters to do what they do really does matter. When done well, I think characters feel more real and the writer feels more invisible. Nice post!

Have a great weekend! :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

where do you find these shoes?

Jill Kemerer said...

I'm revising and I noticed in the first chapters, my hero's motivation was off. It really is vital to get it right!

Suzanne Casamento said...

Great question. A couple years ago, I attended the Big Sur Childrens Writers Workshop. I met author/editor Nancy Lamb there. She's a genius. She was my workshop leader and I read the first couple pages of my WIP and she stopped me and said, "What does your main character want? And what's stopping her from getting it? That's what the reader needs to know."

She was right. And the opening of that novel totally lacked that motivation.

I thought about that long and hard before I started my current WIP.

This main character wants to be loved. And thing that's stopping her from getting it is herself.

Paul Greci said...

I'm working on this internal movtivation puzzle in my rewrite, too.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Hmmm...your last two posts about internal and external goals and motivation are most interesting. I feel I've given my characters both, but it will be interesting when I start my revision process to see if what's in my own head has actually come through on the pages.

Just curious, how did you find your "beta readers?" Is that an official term? (Am I a newbie or what?!)

Mrsblogalot said...

So glad Holly asked that.

Have a great weekend Susan!

Susan Fields said...

I have this same problem - sometimes the decisions I had my characters make when I made my outline no longer seem believable when I'm 40,000 words in. Then it's time for some plot revision (eek!)

I'd also like to know how you found your beta readers.

Erica Chapman said...

Hmmm, good question... I try to make the motivation something to do with their life. Like trying to stay alive, or saving someone - that's the easier way I think, but what do I know. I'm revising A LOT out of my draft...

Oh to Holly - I know I'm not Susan, but I found my Beta's on Twitter ;o) Good place for writers!

Have a great weekend ;o)

Tahereh said...

what an interesting question. i guess motivation for my characters has to do with something they're struggling for -- something they're fighting for. lol i realize that sounds so generic as to be meaningless, but it's really different for each book. i think the point is that there should always be something the MC is striving for and struggles to attain. the twists and turns that surround this struggle become the plot. it's the only way to move things forward. uh. i think. haha

really great post! thanks for sharing :)

David F. Weisman said...

Oh yes. After he's been tortured by people he was willing to lay his life on the line for, my character has plenty of motivation.

Imola said...

A novel without a plot, a main character without motivation that seems anything but central to the story...It might be fun to write..(though, fishtailing all around, it might not be all that appealing to the reader...a readable novel should have coherence and constancy, should it not?)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yes, I have to believe in the characters -t he writer has to convince me, without that, I put down the story or book.

Motivations can be vague ideals, too - love, honor, revenge, home, family...

Ladies Shoes said...

Such a very fine article about the shoes. its really informative thanks for sharing with us...