1. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    Unknown Character Motivation

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DeNile, Mar 20, 2011.

    So I'm writing a story, and I'd like an opinion. Not on plots, but on something about a character.

    See, the main character is a woman who gets swept up in this crazy murder mystery/supernatural crap. There's just one tiny little problem with my plan.

    Will the readers buy it if they don't know her motivation?

    The first part of the book, she doesn't get a choice. I have a nice character establishing moment and a hook in chapter one. But beyond that, and beyond one line, she doesn't bring up why she's doing this. It will all come out later on, as she slowly works through the plot. But, until then, will readers buy that she's doing this crazy thing without knowing why, especially when she doesn't even know what she's doing? And without being given a good reason as to why she's doing these things?
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The question is not if the readers will buy it, but -how- you will pull it off. It possible to do it, probably, but i would ask the question of how you will pull it off. What will make the readers buy it? How are you going to solve the problems?
     
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  3. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    Pardon? I'm not quite sure I understand what you are saying. Forgive me, I'm a little out of it at the moment. Would you care to explain it again?

    EDIT: Nevermind I think I understand what you mean now. It's that as long as I can make the readers believe, they will believe, right?
    EDIT2: The only problem I see currently is that there is only the one line in dialogue to make the readers believe. It's a bull**** line, it's supposed to be, but it's all they get until she decides to talk.
     
  4. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It possible to make the reader buy that. A lot weirder thing have been done.

    So the answer to the question you first asked is: "Yes."
    But that not really helpful is it?

    At this point it more important for you to ask yourself is how you are going to make it work. Where in you story will problem arise? Where will the readers feel frustrated with not knowing the motivation, and how are you going to handle that? What other things will you provide the reader with to make up for the lack of knowledge about the main characters motivation? Etc.
     
  5. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    Would a secondary motivation help? Like say, environmental motivation, if that's what it's called. Or situational motivation? I mean, will trying to stay alive work for awhile?
     
  6. Silver_Dragon
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    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

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    It's a little hard for me to comment without knowing more about your character, but can you hint at the motivation without giving it away, or--depending on what it is--use it as a means for creating suspense in the story? One of the characters in my novel doesn't give any hints about why he's helping the others, and it causes all kinds of tension and suspicion.
     
  7. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, and temporary motivations. She will be angry, hopeful, determined and so on during different part of the story and during different scenes. The temporary motivations probably do connect to her hidden overall motivation, but if you manage to work the temporary motivations into the scenes it wont feel like she floating without direction.
     
  8. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    I don't think I can explain this properly without giving away everything about her. And I'm not sure that's what you want, so I think it would be easier to say that, yes, it can be used to create suspense. But not for the other characters, just for the reader.

    Would it help if I explained the character?
     
  9. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    Thank you! That helps immensely, I was worried it wouldn't work for awhile.
     
  10. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    If curiousity and suspense surrounding her yet unrevealed motives are cultured, it could be done well. Discovering what her true motivations actually are could easily be a compelling reason to read on.
    But if your main character is just inexplicably doing things that leave the audience confused or disoriented to the point of apathy, you probably need to change something.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is it a novel length story ? If it is finish the first draft chances are you will find her motivation as she goes on through the story and can include it in the next draft.
     

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