When we write, we often sketch out our main characters, giving them some physical characteristics, some good and bad habits, and set them on their way. But too often, we give little thought to why they behave the way they do? And sometimes when we take that psychological path, we end up having them do weird stuff.
Not all evil in the hearts of men are caused by poor toilet training habits.
Two things drive your characters: A concrete goal (usually the story goal), and an abstract goal (the driving behavioural force).
Let's take an example of Luke Skywalker. In A New Hope, he desperately wants to leave Tatooine and explore the galaxy. When bad things happen, he sets out on his quest to rescue Leia and confront the evil Empire (concrete goal). That part is easy enough.
But what drives him to do this? What's the underlying abstract motivator? We can consider a number of ideas: justice, love, community... all of those are true. Can you imagine what he'd be like if he was motivated by selfishness, narcissism, and "might makes right"? Surely, he would have joined his father to rule the galaxy.
As you sketch your characters, keep in mind these two motivators: the concrete goal and the abstract goal. Use them as a filter for their behaviour to ensure they remain true to who they are.
Hi, I'm David. I'm a science fiction writer, lover of Star Trek, fascinated by a potential future of hope. I write from a Christian worldview. Want to know the darker details? Click here.
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