Character’s drive

» Posted on Apr 26, 2005 in Blog | Comments Off on Character’s drive

In Dwight Swain’s CREATING CHARACTERS he states that the most important factor a character must have is he has to care about something. Something must drive him to do what he does. This is closely tied to the character’s hopes and dreams. This drive will enable the reader to empathize with your character and care what happens to him. As Dwight Swain puts it, “caring is the core of a character.” So what does your character care about above all else?

There are a lot of things that motivate a character to do what he does. The most important thing when choosing a motivation for your main characters is to make sure it makes sense to the readers and that it ties in with their goals. Motivations and goals are intertwined throughout a story. What drives a character stems from his fears and even from what he is keeping a secret. His motivation and goals are developed by his past. His motivation is what is pushing him toward the goal he set for himself. You can do a lot of things with your character if your motivation is strong enough. If you establish a good, strong motivation, readers will buy many things that they normally wouldn’t in a story–example, Robin Hood. He is a thief, not particularly a heroic occupation, and yet we cheer him on because of his motivation to feed and protect the common, oppressed people of his country. The same can be said of Zorro. What a dashing hero, but again he is a thief. We are taught early on that stealing is wrong. So when building a motivation that drives your character hopefully toward his goal, make sure you put a lot of thought into what you want and then justify it to the reader.

Again go back into that story you are working on and make sure that your main characters each have goals and motivations. These can change as the book progresses and often do to show the growth in your characters. Make the goals and motivations sympathetic, something that the reader can connect to.