Writers in the Storm

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February 23, 2024

The Heart of Goal-Motivation-Conflict

By Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Bridge Closed

We all know the Big Three elements that keep a story engaging. A character has a goal, which they want to achieve because of some motivation, and while trying to reach it, they run into some conflict.

Notice what’s in the center there?

Yep. Motivation.

It’s crucial, and yet it’s usually the last thing we writers think about. Well, maybe not the VERY last — that could be “hmm, WHAT was this publisher’s address?” — but it’s usually the last of the Big Three.

Yet without motivation, a story winds up kind of flat. Picture an opening where the hero is racing through rush-hour traffic, dodging around cars and pedestrians and careening past bicyclists who raise their fists and holler, and his phone rings and he barks into it “can’t talk, I’m on the way to Clancy’s” so we know his goal is getting to Clancy’s.

So far so good.

Let’s say this grabber-opening goal continues with some kind of conflict:

Oh, no, the bridge is closed!

Will he swim?

Will he call for a helicopter?

Will he threaten the bridge operator?

He does one of those, and meets with success or failure which results in still more conflict, then gropes with THAT conflict, and more, and more, and more...but we still don’t know why he’s in such a hurry to make it to Clancy’s.

How long, in such a book, would you wait before you start skimming pages?

You might give it a few scenes. Maybe even a few chapters. Maybe, if you paid more than you’d planned for this story, almost half the book!

“It’ll get better,” you might assure yourself. (As I’ve done when there’s nothing else within reach and I don’t want to leave my cozy bed and head for the bookshelf.)

No reason to give up yet, right? I mean, we’ve got a hero with a very clear goal and some very clear conflicts...

Why isn’t that enough?

“But it IS enough,” I can picture the writer protesting. “C’mon, this conflict is great! Didn’t everyone love when the helicopter skittered off the edge of the bridge?”


“And the goal is hugely important! Wasn’t everyone on the edge of their seat when he glanced at his phone map and started swearing?”


But, without some idea of what’s motivating this guy, a great goal and great conflict aren’t enough.

Okay, so let’s bring in the motivation.

Which might be...let’s see, Clancy is the informant who’s going to reveal the identity of the crooked lieutenant who’s been secretly sabotaging the squad’s every move.

Or Clancy’s is where he’s arranged to meet his college sweetheart who’s visiting from Africa this afternoon before flying out again tonight, and he’s hoping to win a second chance.

Or Clancy has the magic potion that’s going to save this guy’s son from a spell created to kill him at the stroke of midnight.

Technically, learning the crook’s identity or meeting the sweetheart or saving his son are STILL goals, but each comes with a built-in motivation:

  • Recover the squad’s power.
  • Restore a lost relationship.
  • Ensure his son’s survival.

And we can drill down even further for the core motivation:


See how we’re getting into some pretty basic human needs, there?

THAT’s what a motivation should be.

A character who’s motivated by more than just an external goal is in pursuit of some basic human need.

It doesn’t matter if, at first glance, the goal seems minor. How many times have we seen stories featuring a 15-year-old who HAS to find the right outfit for the prom?

Sure, that seems pretty inconsequential compared to things like honor, love, justice, life, and so on. But to this 15-year-old, being accepted or winning love or feeling validated ARE basic human needs, and clearly the only way to achieve those is to find the right outfit.

The power of a story isn’t how consequential someone’s core motivation is.

We’d probably all agree that survival is a powerful need, and there have been plenty of books about people going to great lengths to avoid starving to death or escaping the dragon or fleeing the serial killer.

But they’re not necessarily any more compelling than books about characters hoping to be the best, or to find a cherished treasure, or to forget about their stupid ex and move on.

People can happily read stories about a whole lot of protagonists with a whole lot of motivations. It doesn’t matter what the gut-level core motivation is.

What matters is that this character HAS one.

Readers don’t necessarily identify the core motivation as they’re enjoying a story. (They’re usually too busy enjoying the story.) But afterwards, it can be interesting to look back and recognize what was driving that hero to get to Clancy’s at the beginning of the book...and whether his motivation evolved as the story continued.

Because, yes, motivation can evolve. But that’s a whole other topic!

Prize Drawing Question
Whether it evolved or lasted as-is from beginning to end, what’s some motivation you remember noticing in a book you loved? If you recall the character’s name, or even their title / author’s name, mention that here and give all of us readers the chance to enjoy recalling (or discovering) a fabulous story.

And somebody who comments will win free registration to “Plotting Via Motivation,” a March 4-29 email class on building an entire plot around the characters’ motivations. On Monday morning I’ll have random dot org draw a name and post it at the end of the comments… hmm, is that a good motivation to check back Monday? 🙂

* * * * * *

Laurie Schnebly Campbell

About Laurie

After winning Romantic Times’ “Best Special Edition of the Year” over Nora Roberts, Laurie Schnebly Campbell discovered she loved teaching every bit as much as writing...if not more. Since then she’s taught online and live workshops including the one at WriterUniv.com/classes/Plotting-Via-Motivation/, and keeps a special section of her bookshelves for people who’ve developed that particular novel in her classes. With 50+ titles there so far, she’s always hoping for more.

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77 comments on “The Heart of Goal-Motivation-Conflict”

  1. In Stripping Bare by Kelsey Browning, Jonah Steele is motivated by his inability to protect a young woman from a horrible situation over a decade ago. It drives his protectiveness toward her and everyone in his life. Tessa's motivation is to be treated as more than just a victim, so that puts them in conflict, especially when the antagonist targets them both.

    1. Natalie, that sounds like a great book! It's easy to see how they're each driven by a completely understandable desire, both equally well-intentioned, yet what a hard time they'll face dealing with one another. (Not to mention the villain, which is frosting on the cake.)

  2. Good article. In The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan, Erica's motivation for keeping people at arm's length is that she doesn't want to get hurt when they leave (like her father did when she was young.)

    1. Sylvie, what reader CAN'T empathize with someone who fears being left when that first childhood experience hurt so much? And what's cool is that I bet we see Erica having spent most of her life coping with that belief: "I've gotta avoid being left by someone I care about" and the results...

  3. I love thinking about motivation for characters because I also believe motivation is the biggest of the 3 like I believe that character development is bigger than plot development. 😅

    For some reason The Hunger Games came to mind. Clearly survival is the big one but she's also motivated to protect her love interest too. Part of her is very Justice oriented because several of the things she does is flipping the finger at the Capital for hosting these barbaric games.

    1. Fran, the Hunger Games is a great illustration of how many ways a motivation can be played throughout a series. Sure, Katniss wants to protect her sister first, then others she loves, then others she cares about, and finally even fellow citizens she's never met -- it's a wonderful expansion.

    2. (edited because the site keeps saying I already posted this)
      Yes, Fran, Katniss's story is a great illustration of how many ways a motivation can be used throughout a series. Sure, she wants to protect her sister first, then others she loves, then others she cares about, and finally even fellow citizens she's never met -- it's a wonderful expansion.

  4. Christmas in the Boss's castle by Scarlet Wilson M&B Romance line Dec 2016:
    I really love this book. I wanted to put Finlay, the hero's motivation in one sentence and also give an idea of what this story is about, but the motivation's not as clear cut as I thought,so the post has turned out a bit longer than I'd have liked.
    Finlay is a hotel owner He lost his wife 5 years ago, at Christmas time, and hasn't celebrated the festive season ever since. Grace is an agency maid at the hotel. She doesn't realise her boss has a strong aversion to Christmas (he’s been working away) and she excitedly brings some old decorations and some lights from the hotel’s storage area to put up in his suite just before hisreturn.
    When Finlay sees the room he’s angry and demands that she takes all the decorations down. She is obviously hurt, and when he realises that he's upset her so much, he runs after her to apologise and because she’s so lovely and attractive starts to pay attention to her.
    He decides he’s been grieving too long and it’s time and allow some festive cheer into the hotel so he hires heroine to decorate his hotel lobby and then finds excuses to spend time with her (eg takes her to lunch to get to know the woman he's hired better. Takes her to the staff Christmas ball simply as a thank-you.)
    Motivation: Making this a business relationship will protect his emotions. He will be able to spend lots of time with her without having a real relationship and all the emotional risks that would bring. (If he doesn't let himself love he can't ever again suffer the pain of loss.)

    Hmm. Still not sure I've nailed it! (It's such a great story. They later spend Christmas in his Scottish castle)

    1. Janet, I see why -- with an inspiration like that -- you enjoy Christmas stories so much. And Finlay's motivation of avoiding emotional pain is a perfect contrast with the emotional joy of the season; I like that Grace ultimately shows him (at least I assume she does!) it can be worth the risk.

  5. Hi Laurie!

    One of my favorite story's is Lightning by Dean Koontz. This is a thriller with a glaze of time travel.

    A man travels through time to act as a guardian to a woman he meets when she is an adult author who is physically disabled.

    Smitten by her personality, beauty, and way with words, he travels to the times when her life is at risk in order to give her the best possible life.

    He is motivated by his love for her, to keep her safe.

      1. Sara, what a cool idea to choose a classic like that -- especially because it's not the kind of story where readers are disappointed by the lack of a happy ending! Hamlet DOESN'T need to grow & learn & change to make it satisfying, so his belief that self-worth requires vengeance works just fine.

    1. Ellen, I always wonder what would motivate such a man if (for instance) the woman had been killed by lightning two days before the story began and they'd never met. What would get him up each day? Would he still be driven by the desire to protect others? If so, that's a great motivation!

  6. There's a book series called The Sisters Grimm, where two sisters who thought they were orphans get placed with their long lost grandmother (who their father hid from them because she investigates mysteries in a town filled with fairy tale characters). In the book, the oldest girl keeps trying to escape until she realizes her grandmother is telling the truth, and her parents are still alive. Then, her goal changes to finding her parents. The goal shifts, but her motivation remains family, which makes her character relatable and root-able, instead of coming off as ungrateful or bratty.

    1. Amanda, that's a wonderful observation about how the goal can shift all over the place yet the story will stay engaging and the character credible, as long as we GET her motivation! Family is a pretty universal human need, so everyone can appreciate that...and we'll keep rooting for her.

    2. OMG! I haven’t thought about the Sisters Grimm series in ages but I absolutely adored them. Thank you for mentioning them. I’ve gotta see where they’re tucked away!

  7. I'm going to go very old school for this one: Crowley, the demon from Good Omens, who gets tasked with placing and educating the antichrist so that he can grow up and bring about Armageddon. This is an issue for him, because he's been around since the Garden of Eden and he, well, he's kind of fond the world. It's a major failing in a demon. So while his *assignment* is to help bring about the end of the world, his *motivation* is to preserve it -- a motivation which will lead him to ally with his ostensible enemy, the angel Aziraphale, sabotage the baby's early education, and ultimately turn on his own side in the Great War.

    1. (And yes, that's grossly oversimplifying, because that book is such a good satire that its underlying theology is actually more solid than a lot of what gets regularly preached in churches.)

    2. Michael, I'd forgotten about Good Omens and you're right; that's a perfect example of ostensible goal conflicting with unrecognized motivation. In fact, that might be comparable to The Book Thief and The Man from St. Petersburg...how can readers NOT want to see such a character do well?

  8. Ruth Galloway, in the series by Elly Griffiths, is a forensic archeologist who prides herself on being independent and self-sufficient. However, she begins a long, conflicted relationship with police detective Harry Nelson causing her to question whether or not her work is enough to make her happy. Her independent streak causes her conflict with what she believes she wants and what her heart tells her. Book one is THE CROSSING PLACES and all of the books are wonderful reads.

    1. Carol, that sounds like a wonderful series -- I've gotta look for it. Independence vs love is an inner conflict that can last for a looooong time, alongside the everyday motivation of getting justice via the job. Both that desire and the desire for independence come from the same motivation, right? Very cool!

      1. It's one of my all-time favorite series! And she has a series set in Brighton Beach, involving a magician. Excellent as well!

  9. Great article, Laurie. The character of Emily in “Florence Gordon” by Brian Morton is motivated to connect with her Grandmother (Florence) on a deeper level — to have an intimate relationship with her. But Florence finds every way possible to keep Emily at bay. I won’t give away anything else because it’s such a beautiful journey to take!

    1. Nan, I'm hoping that's an audiobook you narrated -- I always love listening to those! And just from your description it's easy to envision Emily's motivation of intimacy and Florence's motivation of privacy, each of which is totally understandable so we can appreciate BOTH women's struggles.

  10. In Pride and Prejudice Darcy comes to Meryton to mentor Bingley on managing an estate. He's teaching societal expectations but then he meets Elizabeth. While Elizabeth adheres to societal norms (mostly- long walks and reading so many books not withstanding) her family doesn't. He distances himself but falls in love and evolves to change into her idea of a gentleman earning redemption and later her love.
    Interesting post Laurie.

    1. Tracey, now you've got me wanting to re-read Pride and Prejudice. I don't think I could've pinpointed their motivations when I read it 20 years ago, but still enjoyed the story...because even if the author doesn't LABEL people's desires, as long as they come through clearly the readers will still love it!

  11. Hi Laurie. Motivation is huge in a story. And yes, I'm motivated to check back to see who won the class!

    Anna Quindlen's Blessings portrays Skip Cuddy as motivated to change his life after taking the rap for a robbery his so-called friends roped him into. One of the challenges he faces is an abandoned baby he feels called to take care of.

    1. DL, thanks for the confirmation about being motivated...I'm putting a note on my calendar for Monday right now! And how cool to hear there's an Anna Quindlen book I haven't read -- isn't it fun coming across a buried treasure (wrongly accused cowboy & secret baby) from an author you love?

  12. In the book I just wrote, Two Sisters, the motivation for the main character is her desire to feel loved. She has no self-esteem due to her childhood and having adoptive parents who ignored and disregarded her. She doesn't believe she's worthy of almost anything, so she's depressed and suicidal. But after entering a group for people dealing with depression, she slowly realizes that her past doesn't define her and that she can have happiness because she deserves it.

    1. Patti, I can't wait for that book to come out -- you've got SUCH a universal motivation there, because we pretty much all have this need to be loved. And seeing someone who never got the chance overcome the inner demons that resulted from missing out on that is gonna be truly empowering.

  13. Hi Laurie. Your GMC class was one of the first courses that I took in my journey as an author. And I haven't stopped thinking of motivation ever since whenever it comes to writing a new story. So, in the current script that I'm writing, my protagonist's motivation is as basic as to save her family. But considering that she is up against a supernatural element it makes it doubly difficult.

    1. Adite, I like your mentionwriting a script -- this sure isn't JUST for novels! And while your protagonist's desire to save her family could be considered a goal, I'm betting she's spent most of her life protecting loved ones...whether by always bringing extra water, or now by battling the supernatural.

  14. Laurie, I always enjoy reading your posts. They are always engaging and thought provoking. Even when say the character’s motivation is justice it’s always fascinating to see that along the journey he discovers that justice isn’t really going to make everything right again and sometimes they sort of unravel when they still feel empty after achieving what they thought was their goal. Oh or when finding true love is their motivation only to learn the bigger lesson of loving themselves first is the true key to happiness. Thanks again for a wonderful post on a very rainy day here.

    1. Margie, it's so cool seeing how a PVM veteran is able to summarize the key points -- I love your illustrations of how Justice and/or True Love can shift from being what the character THINKS is their true motivation to reveal something even more important for them to become their best selves!

  15. In "11.22.63" by Stephen King, the main character, usually called George, but sometimes Jake, travels back in time from 2011 to 1963. His motivation is to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from killing John F. Kennedy. I guess that motivation would be called justice.

    1. Meg, that desire to prevent JFK's assassination could sure be driven by a quest for justice -- or possibly for other deep-seated desires, like safety or significance or protection or excitement. ANY of those could drive a gripping story, and ANY can give this character room to learn & grow & change!

  16. Hi Laurie! Timely as always. Just sitting here thinking about motivation for Daphne and why she wants to go find those darned shards of that broken, immortal demon trapping jug. I thought I had her motivation, but I've realized there are a few more layers of "why" I need to work through before I'm done. (Her need to belong is at the heart of her romantic arc, and that could be part of why she's going to go on her journey, but I'm not quite there yet.) As for a story I've read... I just peaked over at my shelf of Pippa Grant books and JOCK BLOCKED, a rom com with a quirky, baseball obsessed heroine caught my eye. The heroine also seems to be motivated by a need to belong and to loved in all her quirky glory.

  17. Cheryl, way to go on thinking about Daphne's motivation for the journey -- I like your idea of possibly connecting it to her internal motivation, or maybe an attempt to deny her internal motivation if she feels like that's not what she should want. Either way, you're doing a good job figuring it out NOW rather than later.

  18. Laurie I loved this article and the concrete examples of what you as a reader (or watcher of a movie that doesn't seem to be ABOUT anything) might experience if a character lacks motivation. In Remarkably Bright Creatures, Marcellus (the giant pacific octopus) is motived to help Tova discover the secrets behind her son's disappearance and connect with family she didn't know she had. Add in the ticking clock of Marcellus impending demise and it's a page turner! 🙂

    1. Nancie, talk about timing -- I just today got word that Remarkably Bright Creatures is on its way! And now I can't wait to see what resonates as Marcellus and Toya pursue whatever goals their motivations are driving them to achieve...and whether they'll change, through failure or success or both.

  19. The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is motivated by the desire to get back home to Auntie Em. The Wicked Witch is motivated by the lust for power. The lion wants courage, the tin man a heart, the scarecrow a brain. Toto wants to avoid the wicked witch. Except for Toto, they all want something they lack.

    1. Paula, that's a great analysis of what's driving those characters! Even Toto who wants to avoid the witch might have a deep-set motivation of safety or comfort or something along those lines...and home, power, courage, love and competence are all wonderful & classic Universal Desires.

  20. In "The Fire, the Water, and Maudie McGinn" by Sall J. Pla, 13-year-old Maudie's main motivation is to never live with her mom and step-father again. So her goals are to remain with her dad and win the surfing contest.

    1. Manju, it sounds like Maudie's got her work cut out for her -- the goal of remaining with Dad will let her achieve distance from Mom & Stepdad, and THAT'll satisfy her desire for...Independence? Safety? Comfort? Privacy? Whatever it is, and whatever the surfing win will give her, there's her motivation!

  21. It's important to note that P&P's first title was First Impressions. The impressions that Lizzy and Darcy give each other upon meeting do not go well for either. Both are guilty of pride and prejudice.

    Lizzy is a gentleman's daughter, but her family doesn't go to London--the daughters have been brought up in an unconventional way, and they don't have the refinement expected. Lizzy dares to turn down two proposals, despite knowing it not only goes against society's expectations, it could make her unmarriageable and a "burden" to her family, plus hurt her sisters chances at marriage. She will only marry for love, or not at all.

    Darcy inherited a large estate and the care of his sister at a young age. He believes in propriety and he knows what happens when it is breached, and as a result, he is overprotective of his sister by necessity. His responsibilities are vast--he cannot afford to make mistakes.

    Darcy is not used to being challenged, but by being challenged by Lizzy, he realizes there's more to her than her family. He learns to separate their behavior from her. But, he's also a good friend and mentor, and his role of protector leads him to misunderstand/misjudge the feelings between Bingley and Jane.

    Lizzy is incensed when she learns what happened after seeing him in a new light. But his subsequent letter explains it all. Then, what he does for Lydia is above and beyond expectation. He saves her, and the family, from the cut direct.

    The conflict is they both have to face the pride and prejudice in themselves, overcome obstacles they held onto because of their p&p, overcome family and expectations of society. They BOTH have to make changes in order to be free to love one another and create a life together.

    Jane Austen drew heavily from things that happened in her own family, society, and even politics in creating her stories.

    1. Denise, how nice to see a rundown of the whole Pride & Prejudice story from beginning to end -- this is better than reading college Cliff Notes for any novel a Freshman English student didn't feel like delving into. 🙂 And what cool trivia about the name change early on; I never knew ANY of that!

  22. Laurie,
    One of my favorite books is Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. The two main characters Louis Waters and Addie Moore both lost their spouses, children have moved away and are in advancing years. Loneliness is their motivation to seek companionship in each other. It is a story of friendship that turns to love and second chances. The conflict arises when others make assumptions and put their judgements on their relationship.

    1. Candee, that sure IS a great story...I loved what would've been a regular romance if the characters had been 40 years younger, giving their relationship the same intensity and drama and poignancy (or probably even more) than a first-meet-assuage-loneliness-and-so-on for younger protagonists.

  23. I love a strong character with tenacity and grit. A good story involves conflict and challenges. It's fulfilling to see characters I've become fond of get through the hard stuff. Who doesn't love a happy ending?

    1. Sherilyn, you're right about tenacity and grit being a major part of enjoying a character's story...who wants to read about someone who just sits and mopes or hopes things will get better without actually taking any action in hopes of MAKING things better? The "better" they're seeking is their motivation!

  24. In Tom Lake, the main character is motivated by her career ambitions. We see how she becomes distracted by love and then changes her motivation once again to become a mother. I haven't thought about motivation in books and now I understand it's exactly what pulls me through to the final conclusion. Thanks for the enlightenment over the weekend!

    1. Connie, that's a great example of motivation evolving through a story...in some it remains the same throughout and that works fine, while in others (particularly those that span a longer period) it evolves as the character evolves. Either way, you're right about a good motivation keeping us readers engaged.

  25. As God is my witness, I´ll never be hungry again.¨This paraphrase of Scarlett O´Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND says it all about motivation. Her obsession with money and Tara overrode her chance at love and real happiness at every turn, ruining relationships and coloring her world view.

    1. Daphne, good call on Scarlett's motivation to gather money and whatever else will get her what she wants -- whether that's admiration from all the beaux, Tara, a man to pay the bills, even escaping embattled Atlanta for Melanie's delivery. Getting her own way, no matter the circumstances, is powerful.

      1. Oooh, great insight, Laurie, a deeper motivation at play, which was hers from the beginning. That´s why you are teaching this stuff...you really GET it!

  26. In "My Paddle To The Sea" John Lane, rafter and professor, paddles down the two main rivers of South Carolina to the sea. On his recreational rafting down the rivers he contemplates historic events that took place at certain locations. He also grabbles with getting over the death of two friends during a rafting excursion in Costa Rica three months prior. At the end of his eleven day journey reaching the sea, John still hasn't totally resolved his pain of losing his friends but has come to contentment knowing that his life still rolls on like the rivers he just navigated.

    1. Harold, I like the idea of John being motivated by the desire for peace after the loss of his friends. Theoretically his goal is to make it down the rivers to the sea, but what's really driving him is the need to get over his friends' death...and that gives us readers a whole LOT to root for.

  27. Luke in Becky Wade's "Turn to Me" is motivated, at least externally, by a promise he made to a dying friend to help his friend's daughter locate a missing treasure using clues her father left behind. But when it becomes clear the daughter's in danger, Luke's motivation is protecting someone he cares about after NOT protecting his younger brother several years before. His core motivation turns out to be redemption.

    1. Lori, redemption and protection are both good strong motivations because either -- or both -- can last for a lifetime. which elevates them beyond a (very credible) goal. We readers probably won't recognize from the start what's driving Luke way-deep-down, but it'll be a powerful discovery when we do.

  28. I just finished Tom Lake. Two interesting characters were the Duke brothers. Peter Duke is motivated by his desire to become a famous actor. He succeeds but the author gives an enlightening look into his character when we learn that the only place he feels at home is on a cherry farm.

    His brother, Sebastian, is a good man who helps those who need help. Sebastian is motivated by his love for his brother. Sebastian feels a responsibility to look after Peter for Peter often makes bad decisions. Sebastian loves and cares for Peter even after Peter betrays Sebastian. Sebastian is not a main character but he leaves a lasting impression on the reader. He is they type of guy we want as a brother, a member of the family or even as a next door neighbor.

    1. Rene, it's fascinating how even a character whose motivation is essentially "me first" can be sympathetic at times, and how one whose motivation is essentially "care for others" can be Unsympathetic at times. Peter and Sebastian are great examples of that...and I like how each one has a saint's name.

  29. In thinking about motivation - I'm currently watching a show based in a novel by Bruce Lee, "warrior", set in 1870s San Franciso, during the Tong wars. A lot of characters, political, Chinese gangs, madame, cops some with clear motivations - to the audience and other characters, and others with hazy or completely hidden motivations, from the audience and other characters, but which clearly seem Togo deeper than surface survival needs. Both types create plot tensions - some that create possibilities for the audience to guess at and anticipate, and others that keep the audience on high alert wondering why someone is doing what they're doing, when they'll find out, and how that will twist the story.

    1. Charlotte, what a great description of how motivation can keep us engaged whether or not it actually reveals WHAT's driving the character -- you're right that we enjoy knowing and anticipating trouble it'll create, and also that we enjoy guessing and seeing how events confirm or deny expectations.

  30. I love the character of the boy in Where The Red Fern Grows by Rawls. He is motivated to buy hunting dogs. He’s dirt poor but he is determined to get them. And he does.

    1. Trina, I'd forgotten Where The Red Ferm Grows -- that WAS a great read, wasn't it? And it's a treat seeing the boy start out with the goal of getting a hunting dog without even considering his motivation: autonomy? adventure? self-respect? power? So many options, and so many exciting results!

  31. Hi Laurie, great article! Sorry I didn't chime in sooner but I'm deep in final edits. In my book that I'm editing, the heroine's motivation is to prove to her family but mostly to herself that she's not a screw-up.

    1. Carrie, good luck with your edits! And this heroine's desire to show her family she's not a screw-up sounds like a lifelong drive, rather than a short-term goal that only began a few days before Chapter One...so we'll be all the more relieved and exultant when she finally gets past that burden.

  32. CONGRATULATIONS to random-dot-org's pick of #12, DL Willette, for winning the Plotting Via Motivation class! And what a relief to see the "I'm motivated to check back Monday" observation; now I know I'll be getting an email with the address to send the groups.io invitation at Book Laurie yahoo com.

    Also, thanks to everyone who contributed their examples and thoughts on motivation -- this stuff is such fun to use!

    1. Suzan, you're VERY welcome! I think it's as much fun to read the comments from people who know and love books as it is to write my own...you get a bunch of book lovers together and the feeling is pretty much always "wow, yes, these are who I'd want to be stranded on a desert island with."

  33. Hi Laurie, finally got to really read this post (mobility issues again)and comment. I love your online workshops and the examples you come up with to illustrate your point; entertaining as well as instructive. I'd love to take this class but may not be up to it...unless you wouldn't mind the probability that I may not complete assignments on time. Just participating would be good for me at this point.
    I've applied your clever examples to a couple of stories I'm working on and doing so, it made a difference. Let me know what you think... I'd like to be ready for the workshops (I think there were two)that were postponed at the end of 2023. I could really use them.
    Can't remember the titles, but they dealt with secondary characters' stories. Seems I always have a large cast of characters populating them.

    1. Oh, Elaine, I totally understand when life gets in the way of completing assignments on time -- no worries; people who've done them on their own as late as five YEARS after a class have reported plotting new books with those worksheets in hand!

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