Character Motivation Entry: Protecting One’s Home or Property

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): Protecting One’s Home or Property

Forms This Might Take:

  • Protecting one’s home against the elements (a forest fire, a tropical storm)
  • Protecting one’s community during a civil war or attack
  • Protecting one’s farm from those wishing to seize one’s property and assets
  • Protecting one’s property from animals or creatures intent on doing harm
  • Warding off a supernatural attack
  • Safeguarding a keep
  • Safeguarding a lab or facility
  • Protecting an embassy or government building from terrorists or hostiles
  • Protecting one’s neighborhood during a riot
  • Protecting one’s home from the undead
  • Warding off attacks from renegade militant groups
  • Keeping pirates from boarding one’s ship
  • Protecting one’s home and family from violent individuals (a home invasion)
  • Protecting a church, school, business, or other building one feels ownership of during times of violence and unrest
  • Protecting one’s property from government agencies seeking to dismantle the group or organization within (a cult, an extremist group, etc.)
  • Protecting one’s business from rivals seeking to steal trade secrets, patents, or other information

Human Need Driving the Goal (Inner Motivation): safety and security

How the Character May Prepare for This Goal:

  • Investigating one’s enemy to better understand their strengths and weaknesses
  • Choosing a peaceful approach and attempting to work with those who represent a danger to one’s home or community by offering something they need (supplies, information, access to resources, etc.) in exchange for not interfering
  • Gathering resources so one can operate independently for a period of time if necessary (food, water, medicine, etc.)
  • Fortifying one’s home (boarding up windows, barring doors, installing shutters, reinforcing walls or other parts of the structure)
  • Placing guards and lookouts around one’s community
  • Creating natural traps and fortifications (digging pits, building perimeter walls and enclosures,burying mines, etc.)
  • Altering the landscape for protection (removing trees for greater visibility, creating a fire break, etc.)
  • Installing security systems
  • Hiring protective forces
  • Entering a training program (for weapons, hand-to-hand combat, defense, etc.)
  • Purchasing weapons
  • Investigating how to create homemade explosives
  • Studying building blueprints for vulnerabilities
  • Preparing an escape route
  • Digging an underground tunnel network or sewer system for strategic movement around the property or to use as an escape if necessary
  • Making plans and creating protocols for different situations that might happen
  • Reaching out to others for help (resources, manpower, weapons, protection)
  • Placing wards, sacred stones, or other spiritual protections around one’s home
  • Arranging for a blessing or spiritual cleansing of one’s home
  • Buying protective gear (gas masks, protective suits, etc.)
  • Investing in surveillance (cameras, listening devices, security guards, metal detectors, alarms, etc.)
  • Installing safes, panic rooms, or other fortified areas as a last resort if the home or building is breached

Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal:

  • Damaged relationships between family members or neighbors who may not see eye to eye on the path forward
  • Destruction of one’s property during an assault
  • A loved one being injured or killed
  • Running up debt to purchase what one needs to protect one’s home
  • Impaired judgement from a lack of sleep or paranoia due to stress
  • Being injured while protecting one’s home
  • Losing special mementos or having one’s assets damaged
  • Losing one’s standing in one’s community
  • Being viewed as paranoid or extreme by others for one’s protective measures
  • An innocent accidentally being hurt by one’s own defenses (a trap, friendly fire, etc.)

Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved:

  • A traitor who flips and secretly helps those who are seeking to overtake one’s home
  • An enemy who is well-equipped and well-manned
  • An enemy who is patient, and willing to wait it out until one is forced to give up (when resources run out, or a critical need emerges, like needing access to a doctor or medicine)
  • A fire breaking out that creates chaos and weakens one’s defenses
  • Having a home that is difficult to fortify (it has lots of windows, it is not in a defensible position, the property is so large it is impossible to surveil well, etc.)
  • Being pressured by one’s neighbors to give up because they have, losing one’s “strength in numbers” position
  • The enemy having access to a weapon that one cannot counter (a biological weapon, a supernatural force, technology that reveals one’s position to the enemy, etc.)
  • Running out of supplies
  • Sleep deprivation, an illness, or injuries that weaken one to the point that defense is difficult if not impossible
  • The enemy capturing someone one loves and using them as a chess piece

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

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

  • The loss of wealth, status, power, and property
  • Making an enemy that puts one in even greater danger
  • Losing one’s livelihood as a result of forfeiting one’s home or property
  • Becoming homeless
  • Losing whatever one was trying to protect (a family member, a priceless artifact, cherished objects, a cure for an illness, a special prototype, etc.)
  • Items falling into the wrong hands (weapons, a virus that can be weaponized, sensitive documents, etc.)

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

Image: 3557203 @Pixabay




Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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3 Responses to Character Motivation Entry: Protecting One’s Home or Property

  1. Pingback: Writing Links 3/27/17 – Where Genres Collide

  2. Something important to us all and I do know it would make for excellent conflict!

  3. Another excellent article. Thank you for sharing.

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