1. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Motivation and goal?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cosmic lights, Oct 15, 2018.

    Still in the early stages of drafting my main character but could use some help as I've never done any of this before.

    She goes through a lot in the novel and each situation is worse than the last one, so her goals change. (she's in a safe environment where she can live comfortably and there is no threat to her life but she lacks relationships. So her goal early on is to do things to build relationships and acceptance in her community. Later in a prison surviving is near impossible so her goal becomes that above all else. She even has to go against her desire to fit in in order to live)

    I heard it's ok to change goals through a novel as long as the underlining motivation is there all the time and stays the same.

    Mine doesn't because things change so drastically for her.

    Is there anything wrong with my goals or is it fine how it is? What do I need to work on because I feel like something isn't right with her goals and motivations (they feel all too far apart) but I have no idea how to fix it. The first two goals fit with her motivation but the others don't and seem vague. There is a running themes of power and corruption that I want to stick with and my character views magic as power.

    Really Appreciate the help guys

    Motivation- She feels like an outcast, forlorn and alone. And all she really wants is the love and familial relationship that comes with being accepted.

    Goals
    • Become an apprentice and learn magic (healing because it's the most difficult to learn, not everyone can do it and it takes the most power) This serves hr long-term goal of wanting to become part of her community.

    • she takes a mission offered to her 'discover why magic is disappearing and stop it to save magical beings'

    • (Work camp) survive and escape the prison

    • (Rebellion) – Defend herself. And the only way she can master enough power to defend herself and those she cares about from the powerful enemy is magic (because they don't/can't use it) But it's all but disapeared.

    • (joins a group that have magic) find enough magic to use to escape.
    Thanks again for any advice
     
  2. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Trying to survive and escape a prison, defend herself during a rebellion, and escape, fit with wanting to be loved and accepted.
    It's hard to get love and acceptance in prison. So you get out and get to a place where you can.
    It's hard to get love and acceptance if you and/or your friends are dead. So you seek ways to defend yourself.
    It's hard to get love and acceptance if you're constantly fighting for your life (I presume that's it). So you escape to safety.

    Motivations and goals are layered. People don't want just one thing at any given time, and different things that they want are usually connected. Most people want to live, and living is necessary to get the things they want in life. Most people want money, and money is necessary to get many things that people want to have. Etc.
     
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  3. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Hmm, if her ultimate goal is 'acceptance' that can translate into a prison society sort of thing. There are rampart gangs in prison, could have her go from 'healer' to 'killer' in order to 'fit in' with her gang. And of course they'd all want to escape to, and she could escape with them. Or could decide she doesn't want to 'fit in' here at all, these aren't her people, and is desperate to escape to find a place to 'fit in' again. But being in prison probably gave her some skills that would translate well to the rebellion.

    DK3654 also has a good point there too. Goals/motivations are layered- I tend to build it in a way to find a 'core' motivation. Something that is integral to the character, like wanting to belong. The goals on what 'wanting to belong' might end up looking like can be vastly different depending on the circumstances, but they tie into that.

    You know on that note, tie conflicts between goals/motivations and ethics in. I.E. she could fit in prison as a ruthless killer- but her ethics are against that. So her 'motivation' and her 'ethics' kinda clash, good drama there.
     
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  4. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Hey again Cosmic!

    Don't worry so much if your character changes goals throughout the story: novel characters represent real people, and real people are complex. Obviously if your character's major goal is to fit in, its going to take a MAJOR backseat if the immediate goal is "don't die." So far, everything you've written down seems just fine to me. Your focus right now should be getting 70k words on the page, writing as much as possible, even if there are inconsistencies with characters, etc. Editing comes after creating, and its much easier to make things cohesive once you've got a big block of first draft to sift through.

    However, to answer your question: your character WANTS something--in fact, she wants it SO BADLY that she's willing to suffer through pain and agony to get it, because NOT having this thing is WORSE than DYING while trying to get it. You've mentioned that your MC wants to be loved and accepted, that she wants a community to belong to. The question you need to ask yourself now is: is that the 'story goal'? What I mean by 'story goal' is: "the thing that your character wants that the novel is about whether or not they get it". Will she be find a community or won't she?

    I heard it's ok to change goals through a novel as long as the underlining motivation is there all the time and stays the same.

    That doesn't seem right exactly. Both goals and motivations change moment to moment. The thing that stays the same is the "story goal", for lack of a better term--the question that gets answered in the climax. Frodo's goals and motivations change moment to moment, but his one REAL goal is to get the ring to Mordor, you know? Even if the goal right now is "Escape from Ring Wraiths" and the motivation for that goal is "There are literally nine Ring Wraiths chasing me and I'd like very much not to die right now," that goal/motivation combo doesn't diminish the overall story-goal, it just supersedes it for the moment. Your MC has one 'goal'--one deep, all important desire that the novel focuses on whether or not she gets it. THAT'S the underlying thread that ties all other events in the novel together. Everything should push your MC down the road to achieving, or failing to achieve, that goal.

    I guess I kind of just rambled for a few paragraphs, but I hope that helped!
     
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  5. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks guys you were very helpful
     
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  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Actually sounds like a good character arc.
     
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  7. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks Lew.
     
  8. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    This is partly guessing because I don't know anything about execution, but...


    1. Yes. It is a shallow construction.

    2. No.

    3. Try this:

    a) Throw away the idea of a goal. It narrows your thinking too much.

    b) Instead of thinking goal try thinking motivation. Goal is something you try to get. Motivation is why you try to get it. By thinking about motivation you go deeper.

    c) Slice the idea of motivation to three layers.

    The most shallow layer is the layer of wanting. Your hero wants something.

    The middle layer is the layer of his/her will. He/she has a craving will to something.

    The deepest layer is the layer of needing something. This is where his/her personal growth happens and he/she really needs that growth.

    Nothing of these is free. What ever he/she gets from some level, will cost something important in other two levels - or at least one. So these layers are in ongoing conflict. And every one of the layers is in conflict with outside world.

    Now you have a motivational structure that has 6 different constant conflicts. 3 inner conflicts and 3 with the outsiden world. And you can choose if you do or do not play "choose the goal as story goes on".

    I hope this helps you.
     
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  9. Bobby Burrows

    Bobby Burrows Banned Contributor

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    Motivation for Hero in my Britain being rebuilt as an American State is to do good/do what's right for the people; and like the Villain, is a person of power.
    The Heroine is the woman from the grass roots level, she wants to keep buildings and neighbourhoods from being lost to the wrecking ball and town planners/architects/people with blue prints and plans..
    The Villain doesn't care what anybody wants and just wants to make a profit.
    The Villain wins, kills the Hero, gets away with murder and the UK ends up looking like America, the Heroine lives on, she and the Hero met at a chance meeting in London when they bumped into each other while she was getting chased and he was leaving work and he offered her a ride home in his chauffeur driven armored car maybe and she immediately knew who he was - maybe.
    So a tale of two worlds and an unlikely alliance.
    To make it more believable, I could write it that, she with her activism did actually catch his attention from his window in his tower of power somewhere...
    So when they met, unknown to her, who knows who he is because he's a powerful person, he knew who she was too from seeing her around, seeing what she does etc, and so was happy to help her at their chance meeting.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
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  10. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    It takes a lot of courage for someone to give up comfort and risk change so I would work on her motivation for the turning point. Maybe she's trying to overcome a bad reputation, her families reputation or something -- maybe the start of her goal isn't quite honorable. Maybe she wants power and admiration?
    Right now her risking everything for a relationship could work but maybe I'm not getting it, how does she not have relationships already?
     
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  11. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    She lives in a secluded forest with an totally different species that she can never really fit in with because of their differences.
    She has a close relationship with her foster mother who dies near the beginning of the story.
    She has a tense relationship with her foster sister
    Her actions in the first half means she is shunned in her community and no one is allowed to speak to her. Their belief in this community is strong so most abide by this punishment and shun her.
    After she leaves she has no relationships with anyone in the outside world as she's never been in it.

    So apart from a few people she had close to her she doesn't have many people and hasn't really fit in so she wants that.

    Hope this cleared it up
     
  12. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'm also writing a protag that has been raised by a species that's not her own- although in her case neither of her foster parents are the same species either and she's got a bunch of foster siblings that are also adopted from all different species so it's 'misfit' family.

    I can see how this can really lead to a strong desire to find a place to belong though. What are you specifically having trouble with now? You sounded like you've got some new ideas due to feedback here but then didn't say anything about what they were- if you want more advice I'd be happy to give it, I'd just like to make sure I'm advising on the right track.
     
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  13. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    At the moment my character, her arc and the plot is all over the place. I can't really ask for help at the moment because I'm not sure what I need help with and I always like to try and solve things myself before asking for others to help me.

    My main concern was that her goals seemed unrelated to what she was looking for 'belonging'.

    It's just a bit of a muddle at the moment. Thanks for answering me and offering to help.
     
  14. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Sure! I find when I'm in a muddle like that the best thing to do is write it out. I don't see any major problems with what you've got right now, so I'd say go write your story and see if getting it on paper helps you clarify it better.

    Good luck with your story!
     
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