Character Motivation Thesaurus Entry: Having a Child

What does your character want? This is an important question to answer because it determines what your protagonist hopes to achieve by the story’s end. If the goal, or outer motivation, is written well, readers will quickly identify what the overall story goal’s going to be; this will better enable them to root for the character because they’ll know exactly what he’s trying to achieve. But how do you know which outer motivation to choose?

If you read enough books, you’ll see the same goals being used for different characters in new scenarios. Through this thesaurus, we’d like to explore these common outer motivations so you can see your options and what those goals might look like on a deeper level.

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Courtesy: Pixabay

Character’s Goal (Outer Motivation): Having a Child

Human Need Driving the Goal (Inner Motivation): Love and Belonging

Methods for Achieving This Goal:

  • Conceiving a child with a partner
  • Becoming artificially inseminated (if one is single)
  • Undergoing fertility treatments
  • Adopting a child
  • Becoming a foster parent
  • Stealing a child and raising it as one’s own
  • Buying a baby on the black market

How the Character May Prepare for This Goal

  • Reading up on pregnancy and parenting
  • Giving up things that could harm an unborn child or decrease one’s chance of conceiving (cigarettes, alcohol, certain medications, caffeine, heavy weight lifting, boating, etc.)
  • Getting into good physical shape
  • Convincing one’s partner that having a child is a good idea
  • Sabotaging one’s method of birth control (if one’s partner isn’t on board)
  • Tracking one’s ovulation cycle and scheduling sexual encounters accordingly
  • Seeing a fertility doctor
  • Researching and choosing a sperm donor, egg donor, or surrogate
  • Saving money or adjusting one’s budget to account for fertility treatments or adoption fees
  • Starting the process to become a foster parent
  • Preparing one’s home for home visits from social workers
  • Researching adoption agencies and adoptive children
  • Joining online groups and message boards with other like-minded people

Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal

  • Going into debt
  • Putting off vacations and high-end purchases in order to afford fertility treatments or adoption fees
  • Changing one’s standard of living so one can afford the associated financial costs
  • Replacing sex as a pleasurable experience with sex that is purely clinical and a means to an end
  • Losing a spouse or partner who doesn’t want to have children
  • Losing friendships or family relationships when other people don’t agree with one’s methods of becoming pregnant
  • Sacrificing one’s career in order to have a family (settling for a position with less time restraints or stress, being passed over for a promotion, not being able to pursue the career one would most like to have)
  • Risking one’s health if one has existing problems that a pregnancy or birth could make worse (a mental illness requiring one to stop taking one’s medication if one becomes pregnant, heart problems, etc.)
  • Giving up or postponing other goals (running a marathon, competing in the Olympics, taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip that occurs during one’s fertility treatments, dropping out of school, etc.)
  • Going to jail (if one is trying to obtain a child through illegal means)

Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved

  • Infertility
  • Health conditions that could make a pregnancy or birth difficult
  • A spouse or partner who doesn’t want children
  • Moral objections to the methods one would have to employ to become pregnant (having sex outside of marriage, fertility treatments where many eggs are fertilized and the remainders are discarded, being inseminated with a stranger’s sperm, etc.)
  • Financial limitations
  • A mental illness or past criminal activity that keeps one from being able to adopt or foster a child
  • A social worker with an axe to grind
  • An inept fertility doctor

Talents & Skills That Will Help the Character Achieve This Goal:

Possible Fallout For the Protagonist if This Goal Is Not Met: 

  • Heightened feelings of loneliness and unfulfillment
  • Growing apart from other couples one’s age who have families
  • Tension with one’s partner that could lead to a breakup
  • Self-doubts; wondering if there’s a reason one isn’t able to have a child
  • Fear of growing old alone
  • Resentment of other parents
  • Depression

Clichés to Avoid: 

  • External stressors tearing apart a couple during the adoption process, forcing one of them to move forward and adopt on his/her own

Click here for a list of our current entries for this thesaurus, along with a master post containing information on the individual fields.

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About BECCA PUGLISI

Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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8 Responses to Character Motivation Thesaurus Entry: Having a Child

  1. Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 5…9/27/16 – Where Genres Collide

  2. Dave says:

    I just finished writing a post on my blog this past week about listening to the universe and allowing it to convey the message you most needed to hear right now. Funny thing is, this particular post did that – but, even more so, stumbling upon “Writers Helping Writers” was an even more serendipitous discovery.

    The way that you provide information sends my creative mind off on tangents that I always encourage it to take, uncovering and considering so many different avenues to take with character and plot development. Thank so much for sharing!

    • Dave, I am so glad you found us when you needed to. Becca and I both believe the universe works in mysterious ways, and there are many times when serendipity has really played a part in our path! I’ve learned to pay more attention to things that come along for this reason. 🙂

  3. Claudia says:

    Thank you for creating this fantastic new thesaurus. It is very helpful because as Dian said, it adds elements you wouldn’t have thought of.

    I’m reading Eva Ibbotson’s “The Secret of Platform” 13 right now. Mrs Trottle fulfills her goal of having a baby by stealing someone else’s child. So I’m wondering if adding the illegal component to the list would be a good idea because it opens up possibilities for other genres.

  4. :Donna says:

    I will forever be astounded with how open your minds are to brainstorm such a wide variety of info and possibilities. Just amazing! 😀

  5. Dian says:

    I totally agree with you on this element of character. Having an achievable goal is important. I was struggling with this myself, and greatly appreciate what you have here. You broke it down into more elements than I realized there actually were, which is helpful!

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