Character Motivation Thesaurus Entry: Restoring One’s Name or Reputation


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Character’s Goal (Outer Motivation): Restoring one’s name or reputation

Forms This Might Take:

  • Proving one’s innocence upon being falsely accused of something
  • Overcoming a stigma brought on by a relative or ancestor
  • Proving to others that one has changed (after overcoming an addiction, experiencing a spiritual renewal, recognizing that one was wrong, etc.)
  • Trying again to succeed after a public failure (in business, in one’s relationships, in not keeping a promise that was made, etc.)
  • Proving one’s loyalty to a person or group (a gang, the mob, a supplier, one’s employer) after it has been questioned

Human Need Driving the Goal (Inner Motivation): Esteem and recognition

How the Character May Prepare for This Goal

  • Reach out to those who were negatively impacted by one’s actions (or the actions of the people associated with the character)
  • Search within and taking ownership of the part one played
  • Write a book or blogging about what happened
  • Schedule media interviews to get the word out about one’s innocence
  • Analyze past efforts to determine what went wrong and what should be done differently this time
  • Distance oneself from the people in one’s life who reinforce the negative stereotype, such as former cronies who embrace the ideas one once espoused
  • Associate with people who embrace the image one wants to portray (joining support groups or clubs, attending church, etc.)
  • Dedicate one’s time and money to helping the kinds of people one once mistreated
  • Dedicate one’s time and money to educating the people who used to share one’s values
  • Ask forgiveness and making amends
  • Gather evidence to prove one’s innocence or the offending party’s guilt
  • Hire a lawyer, consultant, publicist or other professional to help one improve one’s image
  • Educate oneself on possible arguments so one will be knowledgeable and able to argue one’s innocence
  • Enlist the help of supportive friends or people with likeminded ideals to be character witnesses or allies
  • Do away with unnecessary hobbies or interests and dedicated all of one’s time to this pursuit
  • Gather whatever supplies will help in achieving one’s goal
  • Reconcile with the most important people in one’s life to shore up one’s support system
  • Discredit the people who blackened one’s name to begin with
    Silence the competition (through blackmail, threats, coercion, murder, etc.)

Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal

  • Sacrificing important relationships as the pursuit of the goal becomes one’s top priority
  • Losing friends and family members who are still of the old mindset and don’t like that one has changed
  • Being thrown back into the public eye (if one’s issue is an old one that has been sidelined)
  • One’s children, spouse, and close loved ones being dragged into the spotlight and negatively affected
  • Bankrupting oneself in a desperate effort to clear one’s name
  • Losing one’s job due to the company not wanting to be associated with the controversy
  • One’s safety being threatened by powerful people who are opposed to one’s goal
  • Losing the esteem of others who don’t understand one’s obsession with the goal
  • Reopening old wounds as one confronts the people one has done wrong
  • Losing friends and loved ones who may not have been aware of one’s past transgressions
  • One’s health being impacted due to pushing oneself to the limit or worrying over the outcome

Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved

  • Family members and friends who want to maintain the status quo
  • New people in the lives of those who were negatively impacted who don’t want to see their loved ones hurt again or taken advantage of
  • Inept or corrupt officials who make success difficult (police officers, lawyers, judges, reporters, record keepers, social workers, etc.)
  • Government systems that make it difficult to overcome past wrongdoings (social services, law enforcement, the IRS, etc.)
  • Inner turmoil over whether one truly deserves to be vindicated or not
  • Repeated rejections by those one is trying to make amends with
  • A biased media that won’t provide fair representation
  • Powerful people or organizations that have a vested interest in one’s continued failure
  • Temptations to be drawn back into one’s old lifestyle
  • False witnesses coming forward to undermine one’s story

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

Good Listening Skills

Gaining the Trust of Others

Exceptional Memory




Making People Laugh


Photographic Memory

Reading People

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

  • Continued broken relationships
  • Having to live under the radar to avoid scrutiny
  • One’s children and loved ones suffering consequences from one’s tarnished reputation
  • Missing out on opportunities due to one’s perceived (or real) guilt (not being able to get jobs, being passed over for promotions, potential love interests keeping their distance, etc.)
  • Living an unfulfilled life where one is unable to reach one’s full potential
  • Living with the ramifications of being considered guilty (losing custody of one’s kids, becoming a social pariah, never getting out of jail, etc.)

Clichés to Avoid: 

  • Ruining personal relationships and going into bankruptcy in order to clear one’s name
  • Experiencing a setback and falling briefly back into one’s old patterns of behavior

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




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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2 Responses to Character Motivation Thesaurus Entry: Restoring One’s Name or Reputation

  1. Pingback: Today in Design - Top Articles RoundUp 14 December 2016 by Pariah Burke Publishing & Design Consulting & Training

  2. :Donna says:

    Another fantastic entry, gals, so thank you 😀

    And would another possibility for this one be to restore one’s reputation due to false rumors and gossip? I know I’ve been a victim of that quite a few times in my life!

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