Aug 20, 2009

Thursday Changing For the Chain

If you’ve drop by looking for my Passion for Poetry post, you’ll have to be patient. It’s that time of the month again. No, not that time of the month, time for the AW blog chain. This one is speeding right along so today’s post is my link in the chain and I’ll do the poetry on Friday and the serial installment on Saturday. Why yes, it does mean I’ll have an extra day to work on them both. :-)

Today’s question is brought to me by Errantruth, who asks: When you look at the world, what do you see as the key motivating forces behind people’s actions, and when you look at your writing, do your characters’ motivations match these? If no, why do you feel there’s a difference––is there a question you’re resolving through your work, or is it the specifics of those particular motivations which calls you more?

Maybe I’m just being cynical, but when I look at the world around me I see greed and the pursuit of the almighty dollar as the key motivating forces behind people. No matter how much people have, they never seem satisfied - they always want more.

As for my characters . . . I don’t think there’s ever escaping greed as a motivating factor, at least as far as the villains go. But let’s not forget jealously and revenge either. I like to think that my heros are motivated more by love and honour, with a little bit of justice thrown in, but let’s face it, a perfect hero is a boring hero, so a little bit of the darker motivations sneak in there as well.

Why do I feel there’s a difference? Mainly it’s the difference between fantasy and reality. I’m in total control of the worlds I create. I can give my characters noble reasons for doing the things they do, or not, as the mood strikes me. And if I don’t like the way things are going, I can change it. Unfortunately there’s no rewrites in real life. Maybe we’d be better off if there were.

My stories tend to be character-driven, so my characters motivations play a big part in where the story goes. If they didn't have strong motivation to do the things they do, the story itself would would be weak and, ultimately, fail.

Thanks for the intriguing question, Errantruth! Check out the rest of the blog chain here:

Claire Crossdale
Lady Cat
Forbidden Snowflake

Next in line is Proach and my question to her is:
If you hadn’t received a Bachelor’s degree in History, do you think you’d still write historical fiction? Why or why not? And how do you reconcile working as a freelancer in today’s world with writing historical fiction?


Razib Ahmed said...

Good answer to the question. I agree with you that in real life most people are motivated by money. Well, in a way, we all are but I think that the influence of money varies from person to person that this makes all the difference in human society.

Razib Ahmed said...

Good answer to the question. I agree with you that in real life most people are motivated by money. Well, in a way, we all are but I think that the influence of money varies from person to person that this makes all the difference in human society.

Jamie D. said...

Interesting perspective, C. Don't you think though, that the pursuit of money (even in the form of greed) is driven by a deep desire for security and safety? And are your characters driven by those needs as well?

Forgive my philosophical comment...I've just been reading a lot lately about motivations in fiction & reality, so have been thinking about this very thing quite a lot.

Great post! :-)

Dolly said...

Good post, and it was an interesting question. Up until now, I never consciously thought about what motivated my characters while writing the first draft. Their motivation would come out automatically, but now I am trying to think about it in advance.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Greed is a driving force, isn't it? And it's easy enough to use as a motivation to make believeable bad guys.

Anonymous said...

I like that you include some of the same motivations for both antagonists and protagonists; we are of the same cloth, even if the grains run differently in us all. I think it must make for a more nuanced hero, so kudos on that!!

C R Ward said...

Thanks everyone! This was a very interesting question to answer. I think money (or lack of it) will always be a big motivating factor but I think the reasons behind the motivation are what separates the "good" from the "bad".

Anonymous said...

Definitely a great response. "A perfect hero is a boring hero." Very true. I think that's what Jane Austen was trying to get at in Mansfield Park as well. No one really liked her heroine, Fanny Price, as she was so unbelievable jittery and prudish, but somewhat selfish, too. And Henry Crawford was a rake, but a charming rake. Anyway, well said.

DniC said...

I think you hit it spot on when you mentioned that both your heroes and villains have motivations. People's actions are based on their own motivations in real life, and fiction is supposed to reflect that. Plus, conflicting motivations = so much fun!

Benjamin Solah said...

Interesting post, Carol.

As you might imagine, I basically agree with the idea that money is main motivator in society, though I won't go into, but I don't think all people are greedy and some are quite justified in their desire to more as compared to the filthy rich.

I'd like a rewrite in real life sometimes.

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

How much do I love your blog[very much]and your answer was most realistic. Even if the romanticism of your characters leads me to believe you an idealist in real life

Corrine Jackson said...

I agree with Jamie D. There's more to the money/greed motivation. I believe there's almost always something more behind that need for money, such as security or past hardship. Interesting question and answer!

Aimee Laine said...

Greed. It's found at such a young age, too. My 12 year old wants a new cell phone (because his old one isn't good enough). Then today, he wanted a new movie. We haven't yet indulged him in the cell, despite the fact he has the money for it.

So, when asked if he wanted to buy the movie himself? He hedged quickly. Temptation. He WANTED that movie. He wants everything he sees.

Quashing that or controlling that seems to be the hardest part and falls back into motivations.

What great insight! :)