Sunday, March 18, 2012

Character Motivation

I typically feel guilt when I haven't had a chance to write since sometimes life gets in the way of writing.  Other times I remind myself that even when I'm writing or doing other interesting things, my brain is still working in the background.  There have been a number of times in the past week where I think, geez, I need to get writing, and then something wonderful happens and a brilliant idea pops up out of nowhere, and I realized...that's why I didn't write.  I wasn't ready yet.  Sometimes you can't force things.  I've had two awesome ideas that explain why I haven't been writing as much...I wasn't ready!  Now, things have come into perspective, and I can carry on with something even better than anticipated.  Yey!

One of the problems I sometimes face is the fact that I sometimes know a characters original motivation because I know what he is like now, in the present.  You have characters that you know are evil, or troubled or hate someone or some thing.  Problem is, you don't always know why they are like this.  It's easy to say that someone is evil and go from there.  Sometimes its more fun to figure out why they are evil.  That's what I did last week.

I have a cast of ten angels and I know who they are since I'm working with them in the present, but I don't always know how they came to be this way.  I know that certain characters don't get along because they have told me as much.  I took it as fact that my leader of the angels hates a number of the other angels, but I didn't know why.  He simply hated them and wouldn't talk about it.  He wouldn't tell me.  He simply said, that he refused to say the name of one of the angels, that one was a jerk and the others he somewhat got along with.  Well that doesn't exactly help me.  I had to figure out why they hated each other.  It dawned on my that these angels all had a life before my main character meets them.  They all started off good, though separate, then had to join together for a common goal, united under a lead angel.  Over time the darkness changed them and they became evil.  Well, there is a whole lot of history between these characters that I know nothing about.  So it's up to me to figure out why they all act a certain way.

I knew my leader angel and the angel he refused to speak about probably had a serious fight for there to be so much anger between them.  The more I thought about the rage my leader felt, the worse the fight had become. (Keep in mind, I only have the leader's perspective to work from.  The other angel hasn't been brought into the story yet.) Then it dawned on me, punching someone in the face wouldn't elicit this much anger, it had to be some kind of betrayal, which implied that they were very close at one time.  What would cause two close friends to despise each other?  A woman?  Too easy.  Money?  They're angels who don't care for money.  Faith?  Yep, they are angels.  They lost faith in each other.  No just faith in God, but faith in someone you consider a brother.  There had to be something so terrible that they no longer could trust the person, believe in what they said, and fundamentally ruin the relationship that they had.  Once I understood that, my reason came to light and boy was I taken by surprise.  The reason and motivation was crystal clear and heartbreaking.  I love it!

Now of course I am writing a romance novel here so love is always a great motivation for a character, but I don't want that to be a crutch for these characters.  I wanted them to feel like they served a purpose, so I need to make sure that they all have some sort of job or roll to fill in this world and with my female lead.  They can't just follow her blindly because they love her, though that doesn't hurt.  They have to feel that being with her is a better option than not being with her because they feel useful in her world.  It's easy to find jobs for the hunter, werewolf and vampire, but it's sometimes more difficult to find a job for the rest.  Some of the characters have gone through an overhaul on their personalities and lifestyle.   I've had to come up with professions that would make it easier for them to fit into the story while giving them an outlet to feel fulfilled.  Sometimes it's something simple, other times it's a little more complicated.  One character will help her find loss souls in the world and help them find their way to the afterlife, good or bad.  One will stand as her advisor since he has more life experience than the others.  I had to make one a therapist because Lord knows I have some serious head cases on my team.  One is a medical professional that also has a big heart.  One is a serious head case but causes the team to err on the cautious side of things.  He is more in touch with the cause of evil than most...he's the survivor.  One holds faith above all else and will be the one who changes everything.  My female character has a lot to learn from each of them and hopefully will use all that these characters have to teacher her so that she can grow up and face each new challenge.

In short, I'm hoping to avoid the easy path of, well these two characters just don't like each other and have never gotten along, to taking the difficult path of truly looking into these characters and giving them enough history, emotion and motivation to keep them from being two dimensional.  Granted, some of these characters will develop more fully over the series, but in the end are strong enough for people to connect to and care about, whether they love them or hate them.  The characters will hopefully cause them to feel something.


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