novels · writing

Lessons from the Monster: Character Motivation

It’s time for another lesson on what not to do, ghastly mistakes courtesy of myself and The Monster. For anyone who has not already heard me bemoaning it, The Monster is a half million word long catastrophe of a novel, with which I’m fairly sure I made every mistake in the book of mistakes while writing.

Today’s topic? Character motivation.

In the bright and happy beginning, I knew what all of my characters wanted. Angel wanted to stay alive. Hell wanted money and power. Rihanna wanted a home and family of her own. Angel’s father wanted Angel’s power.

Back then, It was all very simple and clean-cut. Everybody had a want, and none of their plans really meshed, which meant that they were forever stumbling over – and sometimes killing – one another in their quest to get what they wanted. It all made for a great story.

Enter Rhett Stevens, a character I introduced on a whim one day, because I was bored and I needed a little excitement. He immediately started causing problems, both for my characters and for me.

The guy had no loyalty. One minute, he was friends with Dominic. The next, he’s nearly getting him killed. In fact, he almost got them all killed, because he was willing to do just about anything for money.

Throughout the course of the next two books, Rhett wreaked havoc on Angel and her group of cohorts, for money, for whoever would pay him. They wouldn’t kill him since he was human, and I assumed he was just a mercenary with no conscience, but he never actually used the money.

It’s taken me until now to realize why I got bored with him, forgot about him, and killed him off, and why he caused everybody so much trouble.

There was absolutely no motivation for why he did any of it. There was no reason why he would go so out of his way to cause trouble. He hadn’t known any of these people besides Dominic. Money meant nothing to him. Yet he crossed country borders to try and get them killed.

So, going back to editing, I know I’ll cut his character, or maybe change him up slash give him a makeover. But if I make him into a new character, the first thing he’ll get is a reason why he’s so determined to be a pain in butt.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from the Monster: Character Motivation

  1. *cringes* i’ve done this before…. it’s a terrible thing to realize don’t you agree? haha

    It’s a very hard thing to fix too. I don’t think there is an easy fix for it. As you said, rewrite his character, or throw him out!

  2. OH WOW! That is…crazy lol. I think you could really re-write him from the ground up and make him into a pretty badass character, but that’s not say it would be entirely easy. It really depends on your motivation and your patience with doing an entire redo of such a recurring character.
    I think.
    =)
    P.S. I have such a hard time with character motivation, too. Either that or I’m just paranoid that someone else will read my work and realize that my characters HAVE no motivation. But I’ll remain optimistic. Hopefully?
    Good luck!

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