Tag Archive - motivation

How Does Internal Conflict Fit into the Character’s Arc?

Today’s guest post is by Becca Puglisi.

If you’re writing a story in which your character will need to evolve internally to achieve his goal, a cohesive and well-planned character arc will be vital to its success. This type of arc (a change arc) requires internal conflict, which will provide opportunities for your character to adapt and grow.

But first, let’s quickly summarize what the change arc is and what it looks like.

At their heart, most stories boil down to a simple formula: It’s a story about A (the character) who wants B (goal/outer motivation) because Y (inner motivation). That Y explains why the character so desperately wants to achieve the goal. If you look at the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (A) wants to win Rita’s love (B) so he can find meaning in an utterly meaningless life (Y). This example shows how the character’s outer and inner motivations work together in the story.

The outer conflict is the main external thing keeping the character from his goal. Phil’s conflict comes in the form of the supernatural forces that have him reliving the same day over and over, making it virtually impossible to get Rita to fall in love with him. Continue Reading…

Crafting Great Characters Starts and Ends with Motivation

This material ran on my blog four years ago, but it’s worth sharing again!

Most fiction writers know that character is at the heart of a story. Whether you are writing short or long fiction, you need terrific characters.

But what’s in a character? And how much do you need to know about your characters before you start writing?

The depth of detail you develop for your characters may vary. It stands to reason that you aren’t going to put as much work into crafting minor characters as you would major ones. And the most important character—your protagonist—should have the most depth.

How deep should you go? That’s a good question. Some writers spend months working on a character: her looks, her history, her family, her issues. But often the details a writer works up are trivial details. Continue Reading…

The Essential 3 M’s of Character Setup

This post originally ran on Jane Friedman’s blog. Understanding these “3 M’s” is crucial if you want to craft believable characters!

Fiction writers are told to get their readers to bond quickly with their characters—in particular the protagonist. In few pages, they must make the hero of their story empathetic, relatable, and understandable.

Wow, that’s a herculean task. How long does it take us to truly “get” a person we meet? Five minutes? An hour?

While some of us are intuitive and savvy and feel we can “size up” a stranger in record time, truth is people are complex, they show a persona that may mask who they are underneath, and they may not reveal all that much at first (or ever).

Yet … I recall a restauranteur friend of mine who declared confidently that, after serving dinners to thousands of patrons over the years, she could tell everything about a couple in the first five minutes of their ordering a meal. What kind of tension was simmering between them, how they felt about each other, status dynamics—those kinds of things.

After running a bed and breakfast for thirteen years and hosting more than twenty thousand guests (essentially living with us in our home), I can attest that my husband and I are pretty good at figuring people out within minutes. Continue Reading…

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