We hope the sample list of ideas below helps you better understand how your character’s motivation drives the story. For a much more detailed entry, follow this link to the official Character Motivation Thesaurus.
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.)
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
- Educate oneself on possible arguments so one will be knowledgeable and able to argue one’s innocence
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)
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.)
Talents & Skills That Will Help the Character Achieve This Goal:
Possible Fallout For the Protagonist if This Goal Is Not Met:
- Continued broken relationships
- Having to live under the radar to avoid scrutiny
- 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
Click here to return to the list of sample 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 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 to provide even more 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. Interested in seeing these expanded character motivation entries? Head on over and take advantage of our FREE TRIAL!
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.