Welcome to the 2013 A to Z Challenge!
This year, I’m focusing on two themes: Emotions and grammar,
depending on which letter we’re on each day.
I’ll be sharing mostly what I’ve learned about writing emotion into a novel, but I’ll also be throwing in a few key grammar lessons, pet peeves I’ve picked up while working as an editor.
Okay, so today’s less a grammar day and more a writing day. Sue me!
M is for Motivation: the act or instance of causing or providing a reason for a person to perform in a certain way
When writing a novel, motivation is key to not only propelling the story forward, but to also drawing the reader into it. It gives reason to why the character makes certain choices, and it is these choices that get him into trouble, and why the reader comes to care for him.
For me, it was this choice, the character’s motivation, that drove me to write my book, The Mistaken. I wondered what could make a good man choose to commit a violent crime. The possibilities were endless, of course, but for me, it was personal. I needed direct answers to my own questions, to explain why certain things had happened to me.
Motivation defines the character and molds the plot. The author provides a situation that will stimulate the character’s response. He imagines what he would do when put in their position. If the motivation is realistic and fully fleshed out, it becomes understandable, and the character becomes believable and justified, no matter how poor his choices are.
There are so many motivations typically used in literature—a noble goal, the desire to return home, glory, greed, to live out a dream or experience an adventure, freedom, justice. In my novel, the motivation was two-fold—first revenge, then redemption.
I had to make the reader understand why the protagonist would be willing to commit such a vicious offense in the name of revenge. Then, after he’s crossed over to the dark side, I had to make the reader still care enough for him to see him through to his redemption. Not an easy task, because he does a VERY bad thing.
I think the writer needs to approach motivation like Method acting and essentially immerse themselves in the story and become the character. In the end, understanding the motivation behind my character's deeds help me understand then accept experiences in my own life.