Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Creating Character Motivation, Contest, Call for Submissions

Fictional characters must be motivated to make a change. The motivation determines how the characters respond to the world around them. Interesting characters take action that creates change.

The character should desire something. Maybe it’s winning a blue ribbon or the heart of the girl of his dreams or finding something s/he lost. The possibilities go on and on. The quest to fulfill that desire is the story.

The path the character takes in fulfilling the desire is based on the background you develop: personality traits, view of the world, setting, etc. Is the character strong and powerful, weak but determined, easy going or defensive? Figuring out the background of the character before beginning the story helps the writer make plausible choices that fit the character. The reader will understand why the characters made those choices.

Reveal the motivation slowly through action and dialog rather than in large chunks, called backstory. If the character has a purpose for his/her behavior, the reader is more interested in following along.

Have you ever seen a friend act in a way that was unusual for that person? You might thing s/he was acting out of character. Of if the friend does something that was full anticipated, you might say, that’s Karen being Karen. Apply the same viewpoint to fictional characters. Is the behavior consistent with the character? If the character isn’t behaving typically, readers have to know why. Make the motivation clear and readers will connect.

Contest for Adult Writers:
Categories fiction, nonfiction (creative or essay). $300, $150 and $50 prize monies in each category. Limit 5,000 words. Previously published works are accepted so long as can legally obtain free, one time, one site, permanent web publication rights. The contest may be extended at discretion until a minimum of 500 entries have been submitted.
Deadline December 7, 2011.
Details at

Call for Submissions for Student Writers:
Seventeen Fiction Contest
Open to female writers, ages 13-21, in the US and Canada. Word Count: 500 words. No entry fee.
Grand prize: $5000 and publication in Seventeen.
Deadline December 31
Details at


  1. Good idea to compare to 'real life' characters. I will remember that one. Good, good!
    Character development is SO key. Not just physical characteristics but also motivation, as you discuss here. Like cuts in a diamond. The more cuts in the diamond, the more brilliant the shine!

  2. Excellent analogy with the diamond cut, Mary. Love it.