By author motivation, it may sound as if I'm talking about finding the motivation to sit down and write, but what I'm discussing today is author motivation versus character motivation.
Have you ever watched a television show or movie, or read a book, and thought to yourself "Why on earth would the character do that?" For instance, perhaps the character hears strange noises in the basement after learning that a crazed killer has escaped from prison, and decides to go downstairs and check it out. Meanwhile, you're thinking to yourself why, why why?
Easy answer--the author needed the character to do whatever they did to further the plot. And sometimes it's difficult to motivate characters to do what they need to do to further the plot. Difficult, but not impossible. If it is impossible, then the author needs to find another way to move the plot forward so that the viewer/reader isn't rolling their eyes at the character's out-of-character behavior.
It all comes down to character motivation. There are reasons that a sane person would go into the basement to check out a noise rather than calling for backup. Granted, I can't come up with any good reasons right now, but I'm afraid of basements.
When I first started writing, I'd plot first, then have the characters act out that plot. Literally, because oftentimes the characters had to do things they weren't motivated to do--they just did them, because I wanted them to. In one of my first full manuscripts, I had the hero showing up at one or two o'clock in the morning to wake the heroine because he'd had an epiphany. I thought it was really romantic. My editor-to-be thought it was rude and thoughtless behavior. It truly was rude and thoughtless behavior given the wimpy motivation I'd provided the hero. But I wanted that romantic late-night, get-the-heroine-out-of-bed, scene. (Author motivation.) I didn't get it. The scene didn't work with the characters I'd developed for three-fourths of the book and I had to let it go. But it looked so great in my head...
After the editor's comment, I became much more aware of realistic character motivation. I use the "would-he/she-really?" test a lot. If there's any doubt as to whether the character is sufficiently motivated to do something--especially something out of character--then I dive back into the story and beef things up. If I can't, I abandon ship and try to come up with something else--even if the scene looks great in my head.
TESTING THE LIMITS
Rodeo star Grady Owen has a new challenge. No-nonsense Alexa Benjamin is tougher than any bull he's ever faced…but she sure is a whole lot prettier! Not that Grady has time for much between caring for his twin nieces, rebuilding his family's farm and training. Trouble is, the more he tangles with Lex, the more he wants to win her heart.
Lex is drawn to Grady…in spite of herself. But ever since her bullfighter father died in the ring, she's determined to never need anyone again. She's afraid, and Grady is all about facing fear head-on. Taking a chance on this bull rider is unthinkable…but so is the idea of letting him walk away! Amazon
Jeannie Watt writes fast paced western and contemporary romances. To learn more about Jeannie and her books, please visit her website or Facebook page. Coming soon: The Brodys of Lighting Creek - To Court a Cowgirl and Montana Bull Riders - The Bull Rider's Homecoming.