In the immortal words of one Kelly Rowland “Baby I’ma be your motivation” now this was in regards to getting sex but the same could be said for character motivation.
It’s been a hard day cut me some slack.
Anyway what is character motivation? The reason for the protagonist going out on the limb and getting to the quest. My motivation for going to work today- money. My motivation for writing a space opera (which vexes me to no end and isn’t good enough) to see my name in print.
Ok with Paths of Ruin and Fire, the main motivation of the girls is to stop this machine from killing everyone in its path. The motivation for my main character from the space opera is to stop unnecessary violence and work towards peace. Blinders, my girl Phillipa is over men being disappointed in her shallow interests, so she picks up a hot silver fox thinking he will never really care for her but she can have some fun before the bubble bursts.
Other examples in media: Rey from Star Wars wanted to find herself while helping the rebellion against the First Order. I think, that one started to get muddled by the second movie. Stargirl wants to avenge her dad against the villains in the town she lives in. Frodo Baggins just needed to drop a ring into the lava of Mount Doom before it drives him out of his mind or makes it back to Sauron.
These are clear reasons why the main character acts the way they do. Why they get up in the morning and keep at something that anyone else would have abandoned. What drives your motivation?
And here’s an example of a character that has no motivation. Or no clear definition of it. I love Harry Potter, I have since high school. However we can all agree that JK Rolwing had no motivation for Harry beyond the first book. The first book’s motivation for Harry was to get away from the awful Dursleys and discover his wizard heritage. At the end we are introduced to the ghastly He Who Shall Not Be Named who will hunt Harry year after year, with the goal of Harry thwarting him and getting his homework done at the same time.
But Harry never really steps up to the bat in that regard. When he was younger that was understandable. But as the novels became darker and he got older, his motives for doing what he was doing never really rang clear. From his weak fly by romance with Ginny to his career choice. This drove me crazy. His career choice, the most important path he will walk is so offhand, so lacking motivation it was embarrassing. “Well, gee, um, guess I’ll be an Aurora.” But you never liked hunting your nemesis. You were terrorized, suffered PTSD, endured extreme hardship, but I guess you’ll be an Aurora?
If anything, as a writer you need to keep in mind the motivation of your character, the challenges they face will change that motivation depending on the outcome.
Anyway enough of my moaning and groaning. What do is your characters motivation, feel free to describe it in the comments below.
But I will be back to read posts and post competitions, stories and tips soon. Work has been extra this week as well as life. I am struggling a little bit, haven’t typed anything on the space opera in a while. Anyway it’s just until Monday. Cheers everyone, chat soon.
That’s right Science Fiction and Fantasy writers only! Your very own pitch for the genre. It happens twice this year so if you have something you’re querying, that you’re excited for, do it! I need to get my space opera together to get into this.
However things have taken a little turn for the family so my energy is dedicated there right now. Anyway just wanted to get the word out and if you have success brag about it in the comments. If you are thinking of submitting let me know so I can cheer you on.
Ok it’s a sunny day. But my son is out of the house with his grandparents (hurrah!)
Mini update : The space opera is coming along, I have my main plot but now I want to sprinkle those delicious sub plots in. Sub plotting is fun, you can hint at cool things to come, utilize secondary characters, all without interrupting the story. Perhaps that should be a post all it’s own.
Anyway on with the show. If you haven’t read the first part then this might not make a lot of sense.
RECAP: Phillipa, wealthy, regal (some say a little snobbish) takes a trip with her boyfriend James to a majestic oasis in Egypt. However not all is going well for dear Phillipa, James has failed to propose and it suddenly becomes blindingly clear that he never will. He won’t accept Phillipa as she is or what she likes. He always belittles her or assumes there’s something deeper to her love of fine things. When that happens Phillipa decides she’s had enough. She will only date shallow men who expect so little of her, that way when they break her heart it won’t be a surprise.
“He just wasn’t right for you, I’ve always known it.” Francesca said taking a sip of her martini glass.
“Indeed.” Phillipa did not want to talk about James, she would rather move past it. Embrace her new philosophy, not finding the right man. This was the perfect place to start. The upper east side eatery was tucked into a cute little corner where the ivy climbed the stone building behind her, the wooden table was round and the matching chairs resembled the Art Deco period where all things luxurious flourished. She was comfortable. She was away from the inner high society circle that was watching her every move. There was no need to dress down. She wore her Tiffany chandelier earrings, had her hair washed and blown straight. She wore a green chiffon summer dress and little white lace Jimmy Choo heels. It was refreshing to bust out the goods after trying to match someone else’s- who shall remain nameless!– aesthetic.
“I hear from the grapevine Ben has divorced that awful anorexic mess he called a wife. Perhaps, after the appropriate mourning period, we could swing by for a little brunch. The two of you would get along fabulously.” Francesca suggested and although she was truly doing her best, Phillipa didn’t have the heart to encourage the match. Ben was another James in the making- no thank you.
“You know I adore you darling,” Phillipa pushed her chair back, “but I’m not looking for the right guy right now. I must dash. See you tonight at the Met.”
Francesca’s face fell but she kissed the air on Phillipa’s cheeks and grasped her hands. For once the Spanish tanned beauty looked anything but poised as her brow furrowed and her lips transformed into a pout. “I just want you to be happy.”
“I know and thank you for caring.” Phillipa squeezed her hands back before letting them go, collecting her Valentino green clutch purse and walking away. She was half way down the block when she went to flick her hair off her shoulder and her hand hit bear air near her left ear. Oh good God. Those Tiffany earrings were circa 1950. They were bloody priceless. Just like that her ex was back in her head.
Why would you wear those for lunch? Isn’t it excessive?
That was the point! Phillipa pushed his dumb voice out of her head as she jogged down the street, checking every nook and cranny for a sign of the diamond and gold. She whirled around in a panic. They could have fallen into a bush two blocks back, or down that alley, or- she clutched her chest in horror- the sewer grate. First James and now this. Why does the universe hate me! Am I that bad a person?
“Excuse me, are you missing this?”
That voice could talk a mink right out of it’s fur. It was a deep resonating baritone that came out smooth but authoritative. She might have been hunting for a earring but she found a silver fox instead. He was tall, wearing a plaid shirt over jeans that showed off a rather impressive physical attribute for a man approaching his late forties. The white sneakers on his feet did not deter her. He was all wrong for her, which meant he was perfect.
She donned a winning smile.
“Why thank you, Phillipa Abernathy of the Rollins Abernathys,” she presented her hand. He blinked before taking it and giving it a good shake. Definitely the wrong man for her. Things were looking up. If she played coy and flirtatious, she might walk away with his number.
“Arthur Walker.” He said this with the kindest smile she had ever seen. He gave her the earring and she made a show of rocking her shoulder to let her blond hair fall down her back before reattaching the earring. Yes, she was posing but she looked good doing it. A little thrill went down her spine when she caught him watching the movement, hazel eyes curious.
“Thank you ever so much Arthur, these are a family heirloom. I would be devastated if anything happened to them.” Phillipa said waiting for a sign that he was interested. She glanced at his left hand, he was unmarried so that was good. He still might be in a relationship but she was willing to put in the effort to find out.
He smiled again and said “I bet-”
At that moment a bike went flying by and the puddle of water from the rain the night before flew up and rained all over her left side. It was not Phillipa’s finest moment but she let out a shriek as Arthur hollered abuse at the biker.
“You’re having a rough go of it aren’t you honey?” He said taking off his plaid shirt before kneeling down to dab her leg. His touch was hesitant, gentle, and he glanced at her reaction should she shy away from him or demand he respect her boundaries. When she smiled at him he dutiful used his shirt to clean her up. The dress would need emergency dry cleaning.
Phillipa looked at the dirty water all over his shirt. “You wouldn’t believe the half of it and now I’ve ruined your poor shirt.”
He was standing in a white tank top and not for the first time she checked out the muscle in his arms, his large shoulders. Dear me, if only the biker would come back and ruin his jeans she might forgive him ruining her dress.
He shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. I feel worse about your dress. Sorry you’re having a tough day.”
“I’m sorry you were unlucky to witness me at my worst.” Phillipa said feeling rather piteous again. No doubt her shot with Arthur had missed the mark. His dry cleaning would be rather steep too.
“If this is at your worst, I’d be demolished by your best.” He was testing the waters. This was an encouraging sign. And if he gave her an inch, she was going to take the mile.
“Interesting theory. Let’s put that to the test. Here’s my card.” She reached into her clutch for the cream coloured velvet laminated card and passed it to him. “Call me when you receive the dry cleaning bill I would love to reimburse you. For that and the returning the earring.”
He held up his hand. “I would never-“
She pressed on squaring up her shoulders. “It is my fault I lost my earring. It is my fault for not stepping away from the puddle and wearing a Givenchy dress in the first place. It was nice of you to take off your shirt and use it to clean my leg instead of letting me hobble around New York with God knows what on my skin.”
“To be fair it’s a nice dress.”
“It’s fabulous. I own several others, which means I am more then capable of covering your dry cleaning. I would also like to get to know you better Arthur and this is an excuse to do that. So what do you say?” Phillipa asked head held high, chin jutted out. She had nothing to lose and nothing riding on him accepting her invitation. They clearly didn’t run in the same circles. No one would know if he rejected her.
He raised his eyebrows as he took the card. “All right honey, I’m not stupid enough to pass up the chance to see you again. You win. I’ll call you tomorrow for coffee. We will talk about the dry cleaning.”
Phillipa, in her ruined Givenchy and mud splattered lace heels sauntered off as if she wasn’t wearing rain water. Success! She had masterfully cornered the silver fox into a date. For the first time, since her pursuit of James did she finally feel good. A warm lovely feeling of accomplishment. Arthur was under no illusion. She was a Tiffany, Givenchy and Jimmy Choo label wearing upper crust woman of wealth. When he was disappointed in her she would drop him as quick as he dropped her. No harm, no foul. No hurt feelings that lead to bawling in the bathtub.
She glanced back over her shoulder. He was still watching her walk away. If that was true, if it was just a little fun before the other shoe dropped, then why did her fool proof plan feel sudden seem awful?
It is a universal truth no one will love your writing or your stories as much as you do. My husband doesn’t read my writing, but there are times when we will discuss cool story ideas. Like we had a 30 minute conversation about the plot points of my new space opera. Which is coming along, almost out of those beginning chapters.
Here’s the thing, I don’t need him to read my writing but having him geek out and bounce ideas around was very exciting. I was blown away by how he would argue I needed to scale my years up to give the amount of planets I’m tossing at the reader time to develop or regrow populations after a massive galactic event that wipes out all life in the universe.
I’m just in the drafting stage- getting the bare bones down and all this can be hammered out later but I agree with him. It was good to talk about it. Even if I come off as the biggest nerd.
But he knew that going into our marriage.
Anyway it was just nice to connect him with my real passion in life. I didn’t realize how much a supportive ear (that I talk to in person) could make my day. I have writer friends online, I have you awesome people who visit the blog but that extra attention. It’s just nice.
And that’s the post. I would love to hear about people supporting your writing. Please drop a comment in the comments section and let me know who did, or if you’re in need of a cheerleader.
I’m going to review this as spoiler free as possible just because I want anyone interested to pick up this series and view it without all the story beats ruined. If you do pick it up you will not be disappointed.
You’re probably wondering why a straight, white, woman would be watching a show about the aids crisis in the 80’s, ball culture and the lives of transsexuals. I’ll tell you why:
Homosexuality, transsexual and LGBT themes don’t bother me.
I had no idea what ball culture was but was interested in it.
The premise really drew me in and those first season trailers promised a lot of good story- and for once delivered.
This was a window into a world I had no idea existed.
I had no expectations.
This series was not made for me, I am not the target audience, but I really enjoyed it. Despite some cheesy story lines or scenes this series had heart. It had strong themes of family, acceptance of self, importance of community and hope even when things were at their darkest. And despite the laughs, this series can touch on some really dark issues. Issues such as the HIV/ AIDS crisis in the 80’s that only saw the turn around in the 90s. Prostitution, homelessness, exploitation of a person who is trans, drug addiction, inter community tensions, racist attitudes, and death.
This series is about the lowest of the low in our society, the downtrodden and rejected. These people only find acceptance at the balls held for people like them (and even there it’s a lion den). Yes they can be petty to each other, Elecktra will drag at any opportunity, but they are there for each other because they have no one else. Houses rise and fall, children become mothers and fathers, but one thing stays the same: family.
Three seasons was the perfect amount of time to tell a good story. The characters were challenged, they grew and changed as the years went by. By the time the series was done with their stories and the audience was on the last scene, I felt like I was losing friends I had known for years. That’s how powerful the story telling was in this series. I didn’t want to say good bye. I wanted one more category, one more ball, one more dinner with Blanca.
But just like in life nothing lasts forever.
So in the words of Pray Tell: Live, Work,
If you enjoyed Pose as well, drop a comment, but try to steer clear of spoilers, I really want other people to go in blind and be pleasantly surprised as I was.
Visiting my sisters cottage(not staying social distancing). It’s bliss. No, I did not post this to make you jealous of my life choices.
I’m posting because I’ve got it back. That feeling that lead to a 180k fantasy novel, that kept me writing until 1:00 am in the morning.
Now you can be jealous. I’ll wait.
Kidding! This isn’t a brag post. This is a celebration post because I didn’t think I would have this again. I thought I was topped out. I peaked and would never again try to publish.
And I have all this previous expirence to try and get it published. It probably has a snow balls chance in hell but why the hell not? I’ll still try to be published in short stories but this is my goal.
So people struggling to get words to paper you can do it. It will come back in the most unepected ways.
I give writing advice on this blog, based on personal experiences and opinions. I try to steer clear from telling people what to do with their writing. You want to write passive voice, go for it. You want past tense in a present tense- have at it. I’ll tell you my interpretation of these issues, but it is up to you what you do with it.
That being said, there is one piece of advise I hate and I hope you never take.
Write what you know.
After putting my romance on the back burner, my fantasy YA on hold, I’ve settled on a hard sci fi Space Opera. I’m in the planning stages. So this book centers around a main character who is an admiral in a futuristic setting that involves harnessing dark energy, worlds that count in the billions, near immortality and a romance with a hermaphrodite.
None of which I know. I’m making this stuff up from my imagination.
Because it’s science fiction. Not science based on reality.
When it’s balls to the wall sci-fi where anything can happen- why can’t it? Why can’t I have my near immortal pale ghosts from a dying star? Why can’t I have faster then light space travel? Why can’t my character be an admiral? Or have a race of assassins that shoot poison spines with stunning accuracy? Or write people harnessing dark energy?
Also I am a woman, not a male, so I can only write female characters? Ever? I’ve never served in the military so I can’t let him be an admiral? I’ve never lived in a court with a mad emperor, so I can’t write about it?
Now it’s an entirely different conversation if I was writing a character who’s culture I’m not familiar with set in the real world. Or if this was an autobiography (again set in the real world) of an admiral. That requires research and beta reading with someone whose of that culture or job title.
But for a blue and grey alien, with four arms and fins that I made up- I think I’m in the clear.
When we limit ourselves to what we know, we limit the stories we are able to tell. If George Lucas wrote what he knew, we would never have Star Wars. If Stan Lee wrote what he knew, we wouldn’t have Marvel. And Bob Kane? No Batman. James Cameron, no Avatar. How about Aliens? I’m sure Xenomorphs don’t exist in real life- god I hope not anyway.
But you get my point. So what do you think? Should we only write what we know? Or is there freedom in creativity? Let me know in the comments.
I’ve noticed recently across all media that villains are suddenly being excused or even accepted after doing some truly awful stuff. I don’t know if it’s me but the rise of the villain redemption is leaving this sour taste in my mouth.
Here’s a few examples- The Homeworld Gems from Steven Universe, She-Ra’s Catra, Disney’s Curella, Kylo Ren from Star Wars, Severus Snape from Harry Potter, Doctor Octopus from Spider Man 2 and etc.
Now the severity of their villainous acts vary from murder to wiping out reality, but the fact of the matter is- they did some bad stuff why are we excusing or accepting these villains? I’m so sorry Kylo Ren but rushed “I’m a good guy now” in the last half of a movie isn’t going to do it for me. With Starkiller Base you killed billions of people and you would have killed more. So why are we applauding a sloppy redemption and being like “That poor dark prince. All he needed was love.” No. All he needed was better writers. If you’re going to commit murder on a genocidal scale, commit to being your baddest self while doing it. Who cares if Luke tried to kill you? That was years ago. Who cares if you’re one part of the soulmate with the blandest protagonist in the galaxy? Let the man be bad, clever, and manipulative. Wouldn’t it have been better if he was Rey’s little weakness? If he called to the dark side that was a part of her? God they really had no idea how to handle Ben Solo huh.
Ever since Zuko from Avatar decided to do the right thing, we were suddenly surrounded by villains wanting to cash in on that trend. Unlike Zuko, most of these people did not deserve it. You have to remember for him to go against his nation and the Fire Lord, was going against his best interest. Which was good writing. And it took to the final season for his arc to complete. Not the second half of the last episode.
On the other side of the scale you have Catra from She-Ra who wanted to erase reality, totally kill everyone. And yet by the end we’re supposed to cheer her on as she worked towards her redemption and got herself a girlfriend. This was possibly the most toxic relationship I’ve ever seen. This wasn’t just flirting with disaster, this was a disaster. I don’t care what your excuse is, I do not understand the happy ever after she got. Could someone explain it to me where “true love” doesn’t factor into the response. True love does not erase the past. Hurting the person you love is never a good excuse no matter if you’re abused, it’s all you know, or you’re treated that way.
These hastily constructed, contrived, “I’m a good person now” just reeks of bad writing. I’m not saying a person is completely irredeemable. I’m saying if they’re up there with Hitler maybe there shouldn’t be a redemption.
Anyway, is anyone else getting sick of this? Or are you gobbling it up by the spoon fulls? Let me know in the comments.