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 identify fairly quickly what the overall story goal’s going to be and they’ll know what to root for. But how do you know what 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.
Character’s Goal (Outer Motivation): Being a leader of others
Forms This Might Take:
- Becoming a mayor, senator, premier, president, or prime minister
- Leading the charge for a social initiative, group, or organization
- Taking the lead position of a non-profit organization
- Being a CEO
- Leading a minimized group to promote equity and awareness
Human Need Driving the Goal (Inner Motivation): self-actualization
How the Character May Prepare for This Goal:
- Obtaining a mentor
- Rallying support to run for office or vouch for one’s strengths (if needed)
- Owning one’s mistakes and learning from them
- Understanding that collaboration and showing respect are important aspects of governance or leadership at any level
Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal:
- Being overworked and over-stressed
- Being held accountable when things go wrong
- A poor work and home life balance
- Having little to no time for hobbies and interests
Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved:
- Skeletons coming out of the closet and damaging one’s reputation (an affair, taking a bribe, a video that casts one in an unfavorable light, etc.)
- An addiction that causes one to be unreliable and irritable
- Competition from someone who is equally as suited for the position
- A lack of skills or experience in a critical area
Talents & Skills That Will Help the Character Achieve This Goal:
Possible Fallout For the Protagonist if This Goal Is Not Met:
- The disappointment of losing and letting one’s supporters down
- Being unable to affect change at the leadership level
Clichés to Avoid:
- The power-motivated candidate for leadership who is completely unsuited for the position yet somehow ends up in the running
Click here for a list of our current entries for this thesaurus, along with a master post containing information on the individual fields.
What does your character want more than anything else and what is he willing to do to achieve it?
On the surface, the protagonist’s goal seems to be the most important, but the inner motivation driving your character toward this goal, despite pain, suffering, fear, setbacks, and sacrifice is what really draws readers in.
Understanding the four cornerstones of character arc (Inner Motivation, Outer Motivation, Inner Conflict & Outer Conflict) and how they frame a story is paramount for today’s writers. To help with this, we have integrated our popular Character Motivation Thesaurus into our online library at One Stop For Writers.
Each entry has been enhanced and expanded to provide even more helpful information about your character’s motivation, and is cross-referenced with our other thesauruses for easy searchability. We’ve also included a must-see tutorial on Character Motivation—a crash-course on how unmet needs, when strong enough, will push your character through fire itself if it means they can fill the hole they feel within. Interested in seeing a sampling of our completed character motivation entries? Head on over and register for free!