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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Character Motivation - Young Author's Club

Motivation is key to believable characters.

Why does anyone do what they do? Why do people say what they say or respond the way they respond? 

Why? Why? Why?

The curious mind of a writer spends a lot of time contemplating what is going on in the minds of everyone around them, deeply engrossed in examining human behaviour.

In order to encourage my Young Authors to "think like a writer" I asked these pointed questions this week: 

What MOTIVATES your character? 

What drives your protagonist to keep going when everything is working against them? What is it about them specifically that makes them respond differently than everyone else?
Great plots still need captivating characters.

There were many great responses, many baffled faces, and an agreement that more character sketch work is needed.

I handed out a character sketch someone had completed about their own grandfather and gave them these instructions:

  • Your goal is to make your fictitious character come to life. The reader wants to feel that your protagonist is a real live person, that the characters you've created could be someone they know - a friend, a sibling, even the reader themselves.
  •  Your job is to know your characters - all your characters - as well as this person knows their grandpa, or as well as you know members of your family.

The YA's were ready to get started and left our session with new binders, donated from the school, and two assignments:

  • By next week's meeting a completed characters sketch for their protagonist. It this was done, then one for their antagonist, and if that was completed, then sketches for minor characters.
  • A fully fleshed out plot outline. If that was done, the start of their first chapter. Some of the YAs are already writing the second or third chapters of their novels. 
I did mention they were uber keen, didn't I?

This, peeps, was a good first lesson in writing to a deadline. 

It also showed them the only one who can write their book is themselves. I can only provide resources and encouragement. 
(And candy, because who doesn't like candy?)

Next week I'm sharing tips gleaned from my newest writing resource books:

Itching to read all three. At once.

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