Motivation of a Relationship

Internet Society,

Today will be mainly about the Motivation of your character – the relationship as well as the Motivation of your characters. Unlike the people in your real life that don’t always have it, our characters do. Because of their motivation to move forward they become more real to your reader.

We’ve already discussed the Laws of Attraction with the Natural Progression of a Relationship. No more love at first sights, we need to read about real love. Because of the laws of attraction step process that helps us writers with our character’s motivation. They want to move forward in their relationship. But remember to add in the conflict.

You have two characters that are absolutely perfect for each other, they have similar interests yet are still different enough to create surprise in order to continue to grow together. We need to have that drama, the suspense, the tension. There’s that word again!

So what is motivation you ask? Think of it as an episode of your favorite crime drama, why did the killer murder his victim? Love, deceit, betrayal? So we have our motivation for the relationship already, but why is the situation or the character putting a brick wall between your characters? Ex-girlfriend? Someone wants to kill your character? We don’t know. You do though.

Let’s get into the messy bits. To add your conflict and motivation you have to understand a little bit more about the human brain (if you’re characters are not human, no worries, this will work for humanoids too unless you’re going to create a whole new psychology of the brain for your creatures.)

According to Sigmund Freud, we have three parts to our personality. The id, ego, and superego (also called the psyche.)

  • Id: primitive and instinctive, inherited components of personality. Contains the libido (eros), and death instincts (Thanatos), What do you want? Doesn’t matter you want it now.
  • Ego: The referee between your id and the real world. This is what helps with your decision-making. This contains the reality principle aka the realistic ways to satisfy your id.
  • Superego: values and morals of society learned from parents and others. This is your conscience, and punishes your ego with guilt when you do something that doesn’t fit in the black-an-white.

If your character is mentally stable then the Ego is in charge of the other two components of the personality. This means, the ego can make decisions without being overwhelmed with the guilt of doing whatever the decision was, but it also means that the id doesn’t get everything it wants either. This of your personality as a relationship with yourself, give and take. Compromise.

If your character is more on the neurotic side, then the superego is in charge. This means that your character doesn’t want to make any decisions that could fall out of what they know and were taught. Could also mean that they could make the decision and be guilted to the extreme by the superego.

Brings me back to motivation of the relationship and the characters. Knowing how your character thinks, feels, what they would do if they saw a meteor coming towards them is drastically important. The only way, however, that we can see your character’s progress or their motivation is to first see them as they “normally” are. (Being writers, we all know that normal is a figment of our imaginations and that weird is normal. So if weird is normal and normal doesn’t exist? What are we?)

So there are some questions that you should get into the habit of asking your characters before there is even a word on the page (think of it as they kidnapped you):

  1. Why are you doing this? (Motivation)
  2. Why are you important? (Expressing why we should care)
  3. Who are you? (this also stands for learning the personality of your character, including backstory. We need to know WHY!)
  4. What makes you think you have to do this?

There is many, many more questions you should ask your characters, this are just a few off the cuff ones. Just remember, they aren’t perfect. They have issues too. Characters and relationships. So in a few days, I will be posting some of the common problems between relationships for a booster to help out. Just remember for your conflicts and your motivation, your relationship needs to be tested, show us why we need to root for them. Show us why they should be together! Show us why they are still fighting even though nothing seems to go right.

Also, here’s a couple more tricks with motivation if you can’t quite seem to figure out what to do. You can use two different types of motivation, or combine them. There’s Simple Motivation (your character having issues with him/herself, and the characters they just can’t seem to get along with), then there is Complex Motivation (Externally based that has to do with the plot). Why are they still moving forward? Why do they care? That’s your motivation.

Three types of motivation also occur that can help: possession of something/someone, relief from something/someone, revenge for something. (Hint: you can also use conflict as your motivation to get to the next goal, but make sure we know WHY).

That’s it for today,




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