Character Motivation Entry: Escaping Invaders

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): Escape Invaders

Forms This Might Take:

  • A foreign army seeking to claim territory
  • A group or organization seeking to take one’s assets, property, and resources by force
  • An alien invasion
  • An intelligent species intent on domination
  • A supernatural enemy (demons, malevolent forces, etc.)
  • Artificial intelligence seeking to overthrow humanity
  • A group of people or animals being controlled in some way (a drug, an implant, mind control, a virus, etc.) who pose a immediate threat

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

How the Character May Prepare for This Goal

  • Scouting escape routes
  • Monitoring the enemy’s movements and patterns to determine the best opportunity to escape
  • Arranging for transport (pay, steal, or acquire what one needs)
  • Gathering money or other items for trade to use as bribes or to pay for assistance
  • Keeping close tabs on one’s family so one can leave when an opportunity presents itself
  • Acquiring Intel about one’s enemy (routines, plans, their base of operations)
  • Understanding the invader’s strengths (their methods for finding people and capturing them, their weapons, resources, etc.)
  • Arranging for safe passage at pinch points
  • Communicating with others who are also looking to escape and collaborating
  • Stockpiling supplies
  • Procuring weapons
  • Procuring any specialized clothing or equipment (signal jammers, cloaking technology, heat-resistant suits, etc.)
  • Having false documentation made
  • Purchasing black market credentials, access cards, or pass codes if needed
  • Capturing and questioning an invader to obtain valuable information one needs for the escape
  • Gathering survival gear and medical supplies

Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal

  • Being injured
  • A family member being captured during the escape
  • Leaving behind one’s job, friends, and property
  • Having to leave a family member behind (who has been captured and is beyond rescue, who refuses to leave, etc.)
  • Giving up one’s old life for something uncertain
  • Losing all one’s wealth, status, and assets
  • Damaging one’s health during the escape (through exposure to chemicals, radiation, or another danger associated with the escape route)
  • Sacrificing one’s moral beliefs in “him or me” situations with others trying to survive
  • Emotional pain over any failures, guilt, or shame that results from fleeing
  • Having to live with the knowledge of what one did to survive (kill people, sacrifice others to live, fail to help others out of self-preservation, whatever fits)

Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved

  • One’s transportation being destroyed
  • A cave-in within a tunnel network one is using to escape, a bridge collapse, a train derailment, a capsized boat, a car breakdown
  • A checkpoint weakness being discovered and fortified
  • A traitor in one’s midst
  • Security being tightened, heavy patrols
  • A new weapon or technology being introduced to the mix that one cannot counteract
  • Someone in one’s party becoming injured or sick
  • A smuggler failing to show or being killed on route to the pick up
  • Running out of food and water
  • Not having anything worth bartering to secure safe passage or help
  • Having one’s equipment be destroyed or sabotaged in some way
  • Weather conditions that make safe passage impossible
  • A forest fire that cuts off one’s escape route
  • Pass codes or protocols at a checkpoint being changed without warning

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

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

  • Losing one’s home, property, and assets
  • Being captured and killed
  • Enslavement
  • Torture
  • Watching loved ones being captured and killed
  • Watching others be enslaved
  • Extinction of humanity

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




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: Escaping Invaders

  1. Pingback: Writing Links 4/24/17 – Where Genres Collide

  2. Great entry. I have several of these in my books. This will help!

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