Character Goals and Motivations

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”

–Kurt Vonnegut, 8 Basics of Creative Writing.

In the previous post on To Build a World, Part Four I looked at the theme of struggle. The struggle with your character in different elements of fantasy. I want to continue the character driven themes, with your character goals and motivations.

What Does Your Character Want?

As a writer, you need to be able to answer this question about your characters. Everyone in this world wants something and everyone in your world should want something too. If they don’t, look closer at each scene.

Even if it’s a cup of water—every character should be working toward some goal. This can drive your story’s action and it definitely drives your characters’ action through that story. This adds dimensions to our writer character, gives them a driving force that should take them through the story.

Why Does Your Character Want This?

Now that you have your character’s eye on the prize, you have to be able to answer this question: “But, why, though?”

Without a motivation to reach their goal, your character is just going through the world, in and out of situations without purpose.

There are some great comedies out there that can maybe pull this off, but if you want a plot-driven, complete story with plot and character arcs, you’ll need to give your creations some reasoning.

When you find your character’s motivation, it should interest you. After all, if you don’t find it interesting, odds are your readers won’t either.


Do you agree or have any suggestions for your characters?


Post your comments and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view and answer, please invite them or share this post with them.

#DWTSmith #charactergoals

Character Motivation

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5 thoughts on “Character Goals and Motivations

  1. Great tip. Once you get good with basic motivations, you can complicate things by adding red herring motivations or by playing “the truth and the lie”–what your character thinks she wants is not what she really wants/needs. Motivations and desires can be such a powerful character development tool. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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