Friday, February 12, 2010

Guest Post: Little Scribbler on Character Motivation

This is blog vacation week! And to celebrate, I've got a series of guest posts for this week...and a chance to win tons of free books! Today we're welcoming Little Scribbler, Australian teen author of the eponymous blog. He's writing today about character motivation. Thanks for joining the blog, Little Scribbler!

 What Motivates Them?
Recently, I’ve been thinking about character motivation. What drives the character on their quest? Why do they take those risks to achieve their goals? What makes them push for what they want? Why don’t they give in when things get too hard?

Motivation is the reason or incentive for doing something. It forces the protagonist to act. Forces them to keep going after all seems lost.

The motivation can come in many forms. Financial gain. Revenge. Fame. Protection of someone or something. It doesn’t really matter what the motivation is, it just needs to motivate the character. However, the motivation should be something the character desires.

As writers, it is not only our job to make sure the motivation is present, but also that the motivation is believable for the readers. The readers must believe that the character is properly motivated. The readers should even be motivated themselves.

Even the antagonist should have some sort of motivation. Why do they want what they are after? Why would they be willing to kill for it? In my opinion, the most used for of motivation for the antagonist is money or power.

You could even use motivation against the antagonist. In my own novel, the protagonist, Lily, is left in a cave in the Himalayas, after her side-kick betrays her and is then shot, and the antagonist leaves with what they came for. The antagonist goes to kill Lily, but decides against, arguing that she will be no bother to him  in the future - she has given up. However, Lily eventually realises she’s not ready to give up, and goes after the antagonist.

As you can see, the antagonist falsely believes that the protagonist has no more motivation. However, she does.

Character motivation can be powerful if used well. It should not only be motivation for the protagonist  and antagonist, but the reader as well.

Bio: Little Scribbler is the pen name of a teenaged author living near Brisbane, Australia. As a child, Little Scribbler moved frequently around the country, and visited overseas countries often. As a result, Little Scribbler has a passion for travelling, and has combined this passion with his passions for ancient history and creative writing to create an action thriller novel titled Poseidon’s Trident, which spans the globe in search of an ancient and powerful weapon.

Little Scribbler blogs regularly at his blog ( and can be contacted through Twitter ( or email.


Angela Ackerman said...

Nice post!

I like that you hit on the antagonist, because their motivation needs to be understood (and even sypathized with) by the reader just as much as the hero's motivations are. Too many writers create cardboard villians by giving them a blanket goal with no motivation tied to it other than 'I'm bad, I want it.'

Unknown said...

Thank you again, Little Scribbler, for posting for me!!

Anonymous said...

No problem, Beth. Angela, I'm glad you liked the post =)

Suzette Saxton said...

Hey, you won't believe what my word verification was... REVIS! Yep. How cool is that?!?

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