Monday, February 13, 2017

Desire and Decisions: Giving Characters Believable Motivation

Characters in fiction, and sometimes creative non-fiction, can be extremely dynamic--in the sense that they portray a lot of emotion that most people relate to. One of the most fueled emotions within a story is desire. Just like people in the real world, every character within a story wants something. Or they wish for a particular outcome. If a reader can relate to that desire, they can relate to the character. They feel a sense of comfort from knowing that they aren’t the only human on earth seeking such desires.
Desires can come in many different hues and shapes, but they normally come from a basic human need.

Here's a list of just a few:
  • Love
  • Power
  • Recognition
  • Family
  • Support
  • Money
  • Social Status
  • Safety
These needs can portray themselves in the form of sexual desire, material desire or even desire of attention. Perhaps they want recognition from a friend, co-worker, or family member. Without these, often times harbored, emotions, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

More importantly, characters would haven no believable motivation to make the tough decisions without desire to back them up. They are the logic behind the emotion. A character's wants, wishes and desires help the audience understand why the character makes the decisions that she does. When a character comes in conflict with the task of making critical choice, their desires should motivate the outcome. More often than not, the outcome is not always positive. The idea of trying to make rational decisions when desires are fueling the mind, seems an almost impossible task at times.

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