Motivation the Engine That Drives Your Characters

07 May

Have I ever mentioned that writing is a challenge?  Okay, perhaps not for everyone.  Writing is a challenge for me.  It’s an intricate dance.  One false move, and…splat.  You’ve slammed into a wall.  

I am a member of the local chapter of Romance Writers of America.  Our chapter meetings are the first Saturday of the month.  We have had some outstanding speakers.  Patty Berg spoke to the chapter this May.

Ms. Berg spoke about character motivation.  What could she have said that I haven’t already heard before?  I’ve completed several novels.  I’m not a novice, exactly.

While I have completed manuscripts, had “good rejections,” and grown as a writer, there are things that don’t hurt hearing again.

When it comes to character motivation, Ms. Berg’s message was to dig deeper.  Keep asking why.

In my current WIP I have a relationship shy hero.  Why?  Why is he really hesitant to get into a serious relationship?

Let’s play.

What happened to create this barrier he erected?

After you answer that question, tell me why?

After you answer the why, I have another question.  Why?

Guess what?  Ask yourself another why question.

I don’t know how many times you’ll need to do this to get the the core problem.

Give it a try with your current WIP and see where it takes you.

You don’t stop with your first answer; you need to go deeper, and still deeper, until you actually get to the heart of your character.



Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Idaho


17 responses to “Motivation the Engine That Drives Your Characters

  1. Amberly Smith

    May 7, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    The almighty why. Sounds like I missed a good meeting. Nice post Lynn.

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 7, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      You did. Patty was an excellent speaker, and it’s these LITTLE things that trip us up.

  2. Judith Keim

    May 7, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    Thanks, Lynn! It was a great meeting and you’ve done a nice job of boiling it down to its essentials. I’m adding the word why to my list of reminders…

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 7, 2013 at 7:52 PM

      Good job, Judith. We have to keep reminding ourselves of these things.

  3. marsharwest

    May 7, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    Great post, Lynn. Always need this reminder. I should post it in block letters above my computer. WHY???

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 7, 2013 at 7:53 PM

      Marsha, I need to do that as well. It was a timely reminder.

  4. Janis McCurry

    May 7, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Marsha, as long as it’s not questioning why you write! 😉

    Lynn, the “why” of it all does strip down to the core. It’s a great tool to find your character.

    • marsharwest

      May 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      LOL, Janis. I think the answer to why we write must be like what mountain climbers say when asked why they climb the mountain. Because it’s there. In our case, it’s there inside us.

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 7, 2013 at 7:54 PM

      So true.

  5. stephanieberget

    May 7, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    I just recently heard of this technique and I’m glad Patti reminded me of it. I’m going to write it on the back of my hands so while I write, I’m constantly reminded. 🙂 Thanks, Lynn.

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 7, 2013 at 7:55 PM

      She was an excellent speaker. I’m glad she came to speak to the chapter.

  6. maryvine

    May 7, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Thanks, Lynn. I’m like the kids, I need a good review to remember what I’d been taught.

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 7, 2013 at 7:56 PM

      Mary, I feel the same way. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded of something this important.

  7. Jennifer

    May 9, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Sometimes I feel so inundated with writing info that I forget the simple things like “why”.

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 14, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      We are working on overload at most times. It’s easy to forget those “little” details, and the “little” details matter.

  8. Peggy Staggs

    May 14, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Motivation is so important and sometimes overlooked. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Lynn Mapp

      May 14, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      It was a great presentation. I just put Ms. Berg’s words in simple form.


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