Writers Corner: Motivation

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Brad from Rancho Cucamonga asks me to explain motivation. That may appear to be a dumb question, but it isn’t. I’ve been asked that question a number of times. If you know what motivates a person, you get your first insight into your character or characters. Contrary to some who believe motivation has to do with the desire to write a book, that’s apples and oranges and has nothing to do with character motivation. Every character in your story will be motivated, i.e., revenge, love, marriage, education, etc. Also, during your story, circumstances can quickly change what motivates a character. For instance, your protagonist is faced with a twist in the story caused by circumstances, death of a character, or an unforeseen reason to alter motivation. A metaphor might be driving down a highway and coming upon a dead-end or unexpected detour. These reasons to re-evaluate your story pattern often are a good reason to direct your story in a different direction. In my novel Bughouse Blues, during my rewrites, I found it exciting to hit bumps in the direction of my story. I can give you another reason. If you are writing a biography, you may be motivated by the discovery of a family member who pops up out of nowhere. Anyway, the primary reason for motivation is to lead you forward towards the ending of your story. Now, let’s change the subject. When writing books targeted for teenagers, you will have to do a lot more research into a teenager’s thinking and desires. In today’s social media world, nothing is ever as exact as it was when you were a teenager. Teenagers’ musical tastes can change overnight when something new and compelling earns their interest. Remember, past musical bombshells show clearly how quickly their musical interests can change. Glenn Miller, Little Richard, Elvis, The Beatles. Taylor Swift is the most recent musical explosion among teenage girls. Boys may suddenly fall in love with the wailing of a new rock star. Clothing styles change as often as daylight to dark. The research for teen-focused books is exceptionally time-consuming, and you may have to make changes from day to day as you write. Some writing is more difficult than other forms. Becoming a successful writer is like diving off a cliff and hoping you hit the water below instead of the rocks. Just sayin’. [email protected]

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