Monday, September 17, 2012

Motivating your scene

We've all been there. Your manuscript is open and you know exactly what needs to happen in this scene. But every time you try to write, you get farther away from where it needs to go. Your scene is acting like a stubborn three year old.

This happened to me recently. I needed one of my characters to show two others a secret place. This is important to my story. So off my characters go to learn about this secret place, only I can't get them there.

So I stopped to think about it. I know why two of the characters want to go. My female MC has a crush on the guy with the secret and would follow him anywhere. The male MC is the type who has to know about everything (because knowledge is power). But why would my other character (lets call him Ed) go there. Sure, Ed's nice, but he's got other stuff to do. Ahhh...what if he needed something from the secret place. He's going there anyway and offers to let my MCs tag along. Eureka!

I was missing the motivation. Even though all the character actions fit with who they are, I forgot to make sure that they were properly motivated to do something.

What's your character's carrot? source


It's not enough that your character is the type who likes the library. I love the library, but I don't go just because. I go because I need to return books or get new ones, or do some research, or whatever. You can't just say, My character loves the library so she goes and meets the love interest while wondering around looking for something to do. But she can go to the library because the book she put on hold just came in and she meets Mr. Right at the circulation desk. Aha, motivation.

So next time you can't get a scene to move in the right direction, take a look at your character motivation and make sure everyone has a reason for being there.

Fast Draft Day 2 Check In!
Goal: 5000 words
Actual:  5000 on the dot!

15 comments:

  1. Don't post this earlier on my account. I plan on going to bed at 11PM for now on. One thing I have realized is that my schedule is not efficient for working, writing, and taking care of an infant.

    Fast Draft Day 2 Check In!
    Goal: 4000 words
    Actual: 1189 words - grumble

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    1. Grumble on your own time, back to the laptop. :) Just keep at it. 1200 words is better than no words.

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    2. Um, that was my stomach, lol. Yes, a little closer to complete.

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  2. Motivation is key! I get frustrated with books that don't have clear motivations for the characters, and end up not caring about them. The stronger the motivation, the more invested I am in the story. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Tabitha. It seems common sense, but I find myself forcing characters into the scene without even thinking about it sometimes.

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  3. I think motivation was my issue the other day and yesterday--my characters had to go to a cave/tide pool and no matter what I did she wouldn't go. It was like she hated the water. AND then I got it! My character had an irrational fear of the water (way worse than mine ever was lol).

    Check-in 2!
    1,750 out of my 2,500 goal. Not too bad considering I'd been studying for an exam on the same day and my brain was fried :D

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    1. You were super close to your goal! Great job. Hopefully the words come easier now that you know what's going on with your character. :)

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  4. Congrats on meeting your goal. I'm during a major revision right now. I hope to get through about 8K. That's my goal for today.

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. You are a fast drafter super star so I have no doubt 8K in revision will be easy peasy to get through.

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  5. I like that! I'm going to attempt to write during lunch. I don't know f I can do 5000 in an hour, but here's hoping!

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    1. Maybe not, but I bet you could get a solid 2K in a hour if you don't think about it. Good luck!

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  6. So true, Sarah, motivation is everything. I always ask myself why, why, why every time I want my characters to do something and then of course it's got to play into the big GMC of my whole book. Started fast draft on Saturday, plan to write 5K today...how the heck do you do 2k in an hour?

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    1. So true! and I promise you could do 2K in an hour. I give myself 10 or 15 minutes to visualize how I want the scene to play out and then I just write. You really have to turn off that internal editor to keep from correcting the bad. :)

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  7. Day 2 check in:
    Goal: 2k
    Written: 1,300

    (Im okay with my words. I hit 10k and was comfortable stopping. Plus I had two birthday parties to attend yesterday :/ )

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  8. Ermm.... I've only been hitting about 1,000 a day. But today's goal is 3,000, which I'm going to hit come hell or high water.

    I had to rewrite several scenes in my last WiP for this reason. Why would these characters meet and talk? What brings about this topic of discussion? Etc. When I read through the first draft, I realized it was pretty plot-y. I always have to take a step back and remind myself that the characters should drive the story, not the other way around!

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