1. jneil
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    jneil New Member

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    Need Help with character modivation!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jneil, Oct 10, 2009.

    Hi everyone, I am new here and looking for some help with my novel!

    I am writing a novel that takes place in two different time periods, 1990's and 1850-1860's. I have been having issues with the motivation of the protagonist in the 1990's. She is approached by a writer/historian who is writing a book about the history of the town she lives in and her family has lived in for the past 150yrs. The writer has discovered some information in his research that may prove that her family was involved in an unsolved murder. The information is enough to have her own doubts about her families innocence. She starts to try to find the truth for herself. To protect her family name and her livelihood. She lives in the small town and runs/owns a small business. In the end she finds out that her grandfather is the murderer. I had originally had him been dead already, but...don't know if this will work.

    I have been told by a few people that this is not a strong enough hook, not motivation enough etc. Many have suggested fear of death or threat of loosing a love. I have tried to think of quiet a few scenarios but I am having trouble. Any ideas or suggestions! Please,. I am stuck here with this.
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It depends on the character, not on the plot....
    With some characters, curiosity will be enough of a motive to want to get into unravelling this mystery, while others might be content to let sleeping dogs lie unless they were threatened. So its not so much a question of whether the concept is compelling enough, but whether the character is behaving in a consistent and believable way.
     
  3. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you absolutely want to put things more on the edge, she could be running for a political office or some other public post, where her chances would be threatened by having skeletons in the family closet, so she wants to clean it out before anyone opens it.

    Once she finds out that her grandfather is a murderer, she's facing a huge dilemma. Do the right thing and tell the police, or save the face of her family... Perhaps she has many fond memories of her grandfather too.
     
  4. ciara
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    ciara New Member

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    i guess it depends on your character. i mean if your character were me for example, i'd be so curious and excited by the drama of the situation that i'd just have to find out. if it were my brother you'd have to be threatening his bank account in some way before he'd be too worried about it. do you know what i mean? i think protecting the family name isn't really something many people would be too worried about but maybe it means a lot to your character, as for protecting their livelihood, does your character live in the kind of place where people would boycott you for having a murderous relative- i mean it is the 90's after all and maybe people wouldn't care so much about that in the 90's. HOWEVER maybe in the 50's in a small town, it might be a bigger deal. see what i mean?
     
  5. von Pook
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    von Pook Contributing Member

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    Yep I agree it just doesn't seem like that bigger deal it being the 1990s and the murder being 150 years previous, and where is this to be set? in the U.S?

    Have you decided why and who is murdered? Could not the person who is murdered be another relative that somehow affects who the MC thinks they are; eg the grandfather kills his daughter for getting pregnant too young or buy a man of lower rank in society or even by him and then the child is brought up in different environment or by maybe the grandparents believing they are its parents making our MC someone different (maybe they are the child) aftecting their political career; or possible in the view of this new information not the air to the family estate/fortune or even the opposite; a secret the true air wants to keep hidden at all costs putting a massive threat on the MC. :rolleyes:
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    vp... the murder couldn't have taken place 150 prior to the story time frame, if the grandfather committed it... unless he lived to a verrrrrry ripe old age... ;-)

    but the rest of your advice is pretty good... so is all the advice given above yours...

    i agree that it all depends on the character, jneil... any motivation you give her is enough, if it makes sense in re who and what she is and what her goals/fears are...
     
  7. jneil
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    jneil New Member

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    Thanks

    Thank you to all who replied to my question about character motivation. I am still trying to work through this and develop the character. I really like the idea of her being in a position where this would really effect her (political career etc).

    To comment to Horuseye...I had intended for her to cover it all up, so no one would know the truth. This way she could protect herself in the end.

    Also, I do realize the time frame issue and if I decide to have the Grandfather still be alive I would have to change that for sure! It is set in the US in a very small town (under 2500ppl). The kind of town where everyone is in everyone's business.

    I will post again when I have firmed this up again. If anyone else has more thoughts or idea I would love to hear from you. This has been very helpful! THANKS!!
     
  8. ciara
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    ciara New Member

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    i'm really interested in this story! so please post some of it when you can.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    As long as she wants it bad enough, we will want her to get it.

    I imagine the grandfather murdering someone is going to be very deep. That is there will be a lot of clues that lead her to that conclusion. And she will find a lot of clues that lead her down wrong paths.

    You can add a subplot, which will serve for the modivation behind why the grandfather killed this person. An example of what I mean is found in Chinatown. The subplot, the reason behind the murder, was the deal with the water company. If you haven't watched this film, I highly recommend it.

    Perhaps it could deal with the deed of the house. Or start out that way, but as more clues are uncovered the plot thickens. It wasn't just to keep his house because someone was threatening to take it away, but they were threatening to reveal a family secret. Perhaps the family secret has to do with how the family was able to buy the house. Perhaps it has to do with one of them having a child with a slave girl. Perhaps it has to do with incest, etc.

    Anyway, I like stories like that. Chinatown. Flowers in the Attic (the novel)
     
  10. zaphod
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    zaphod Member

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    Maybe what happened in the past is just a proxy for a more current conflict between your characters?

    Also, try reversing the premise. Instead of uncovering the past, what about creating a hoax? Or even vice versa, calling a real event a hoax by destroying evidence?
     
  11. jneil
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    jneil New Member

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    Little confused about creating a hoax....do you mean the murder as the hoax? That would not work because I have my story based around this real murder, what leads up to it, what happens after etc.
     
  12. bumboclaatjones
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    bumboclaatjones Member

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    where in the US is it set? I grew up in the smallest incorporated city in California, if not the USA (Trinidad, 311 people) and mostly everyone stayed outta everyones business. Of course, most people's business was not exactly legal, which actually would make for a good story hook, now that I think of it, but I digress. I think you'd have to have the setting in the midwest somewhere if you want an old murder to have some impact on the characters life 150 years after the fact.
     
  13. jneil
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    jneil New Member

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    The story does take place in the US in a small town in Oregon. I have lived in a town like this in which everyone is in everyone business. I guess it depends on the town too...I have found this in many states across the US where family or friends live. This includes Oregon, the southwest, the south and Midwest.
     
  14. zaphod
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    zaphod Member

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    I honestly can't give any examples because that's not what this forum is for, are we allowed to discuss things like this here?

    But I'll take something from real life:

    In Marfa, Texas there are the "mysterious Marfa lights". They are of course car headlights on a highway in the distant Chinati Mountains (sorry if I ruined it for any "believers")... But tourists who have never experienced the wide openess of west Texas cannot appreciate just how many dozens of miles their own pair of eyes can actually see, they cannot look at a map and recognize what they are looking at. Thus the mythos of ghost lights, aliens, or weird natural phenomena was born.

    Naturally, this is a source of income for tourist oriented businesses in what is otherwise a pretty desolate region...anything to interfere with this would be a bit unwelcome by locals.

    So there you go. Imagine a similar bit of intrigue in your story...
     
  15. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Why not have the descendants of the murder victim be involved with the Protag in some way? That's another reason to cover it up. Does your protag have siblings, family of their own? How old are they? What are the implecations to their way of life, not just professinally (after all, you can always move out of a small town to a big city if you've something to hide ;) ) but personally as well. After all it's often more difficult to escape a personal disaster then a professional one.
     
  16. Destin
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    Destin Senior Member

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    Suppose the protagonist is married to a descendant of the murdered guy. That could be fun.

    Ooo even better the protagonist is engaged to marry a member of the murdered guy but the family is very wealthy and powerful and would do more than just frown upon finding out that the protagonist was related to the unknown murderer of their ancestor. Maybe they have some violent history, or they are somehow involved with crime.

    That would be even more fun.
     

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