1. Luke McKenzie

    Luke McKenzie New Member

    Aug 31, 2015
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    Slippery internal mechanics

    Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by Luke McKenzie, Aug 31, 2015.

    Hey gang, I just gave my new member introduction and now have my first question:

    I can write and keep the flow going with generally not too much problem. But after resting that, I come back to review it. Then do some of the prep work getting to know my characters from the inside out and often from then, get stuck in my head; what is their external and internal conflict/motivation/goal. The borders between all of that become blurry. For instance Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 5.01.59 pm.png

    This is for a short story I've written and am beating it out to then adapt it into screenplay. I feel that this little bit of simple character research I've done has confused me.... Does it make sense? I feel I'm confusing myself between goal/motivation and conflict when articulating them?! Argh...

    Any thoughts will be kindly appreciate and I look forward to reading and talking further on all things Written!
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 12, 2015
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    London, UK
    I think this is on the right track, except your external motivation is more than a goal. He wants to be the most known and loved sage, but why? Why doesn't he feel loved already? Why isn't he content with who he is?

    For all of them, just go a bit deeper. Why is his one, overwhelming goal to be someone special? Is he like Ron Weasley, constantly overshadowed by people doing better than him? Why is he betraying his brother? Why does he care about betraying his brother? Why is it a problem that he's passing off someone else's wisdom?

    Just keep going backwards, deeper and deeper - why does he feel x? Because y. Okay, why does he feel y?

    The motivation should naturally feed into the goal; they need to match. The goal helps him fulfill his motivating desire. The conflict is there to get in the way of achieving his goals, and his motivation needs to be strong enough to overcome them.

    I have to say, I think it's unusual to write a draft and THEN consider your characterisation, but that's not to say it's wrong.
    jannert likes this.
  3. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    @Tenderiser has nailed it. Go deeper.

    To every motivation, goal, etc ...ask why. Then ask why again. Keep asking why, whatever answer you give. You go deep enough, the connections will start to emerge.

    He wants to be somebody special. Why? Not all of us care about being somebody special...whatever that means. So why does he? Because he is always getting passed over. Why? Well, because he's a second son and nobody notices him. Why? Well because his brother is the achiever in the family. Why? Well, because their father always made sure his brother had the best of everything? Why? Because their father wanted his oldest son to triumph over his rival's oldest son. Why? Because back in their younger days, his rival not only beat him in a swordfight and crippled him, but took the woman he loved away from him as well. And now the father wants revenge, and he thinks his oldest son can provide it.

    Not that this is the way your story is going, but you can see from this simple exercise how many things can emerge that can make a story. You have to ask why. Every thing you plan to do, ask why. It's that process, not making lists, that will lead you to story.
  4. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

    Feb 10, 2011
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    Rotorua, New Zealand

    I'm a little bit mixed up on your motivations for your character. Ok so he wants to be someone special. That's fine. But why does he want to be special? That's not going to be about wanting to be loved. That's going to be about wanting to be respected / admired / famous. Think the Kardashians. Think Paris Hilton. They don't do what they do to be loved. They do it to be respected / admired / to be rich.

    And on the external motivations he wants his wisdom to be spread across all of China. Fine again. But two possible reasons for that. The first is that he genuinely believes he has something new and important and even revolutionary to say. But if that was the case there wouldbe no conflict as mentioned below. Or he just wants to be famous - in which case that conflict exists.

    Cheers, Greg.

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