Character Motivation

I use Twitter as a resource. If you follow me or check my Twitter profile, you’ll see I follow less than 200 people, and followed by just a bit over 200 folks. The folks I follow are one of three types: old friends, information security folks, writing folks. I say folks, because Twitter profiles are not always¬†people, but include companies or organizations.

Anyway, the way I use Twitter is to focus on specific information. This garners real gems sometimes. Here’s one I’ll share. One Paul Fenwick posted a blog entry discussing how to undermine learning in children.

Paul Fenwick

While the focus of the article is on how we encourage or discourage learning and the studies done in 1998 and 1999, we as writers can take this information further.

How we speak (authors) to our characters in our fiction, and how our characters speak to each other, can affect their progress and motivation. The language we use can move the character forward, or have the character ring hollow. How do you describe a character who faces tough challenges, and fails. If the character values effort and learning (among other things), the character comes back and tries again and again until successful. The character who values “looking good” and fails, usually will give up after one or two failures. Any attempt to portray the character differently will seem wrong.

You may apply this concept to both the protagonist and antagonist characters. I’m thinking that young adult fiction should show these distinctions clearly in characters. Not just for character honesty, but to demonstrate the difference between valuing effort and learning over just looking good.

I could be wrong, of course. You are welcome to correct me.

Keep Writing.