Do you sometimes become so completely overwhelmed by all the work left to be done to your story that you walk away without writing? I’ve been doing that dance myself lately. Preparing for this month’s free Plot Tips eZine (yes, I know September is more than halfway over!), rather than begin on all the steps involved — catch up on emails, update all social media, and write a few of blog posts — I give in to the overwhelm and walk away. Perhaps we’ve each forgotten. What motivates you to keep writing?
Putting out my ezine for more than 20 years, I’ve learned a couple of helpful tricks how to climb out of the morass and get to work. A tight focus on one step at time helps clear through the impasse. Even better is to remind myself why? Why go to the effort? Identifying character motivation is critical in stories. So, too, is identifying your own personal motives for writing a story with a plot from beginning to end. Awareness of our own personal motivation brings a greater sense of spaciousness and care to our actions.
When you find
- Yourself without the energy to take on your writing or any other task you know you want to, wish to, desire to accomplish
- Your characters without the energy to keep going
Go back to your / your characters’ motivation. Ask yourself what motivates you to keep writing? Look toward your reasons, goals, objectives for your motivation to act. What drives you to follow through?
When you consider your motivation for writing a story with a plot from beginning to end, don’t settle for your first answer. As I write in Writing Blockbuster Plots: “As [your character] changes, what drives and motivates her changes, too.” Same with you. The deeper you delve into your story, you find your relationship with your writing changing and deepening. Your reasons why you continue even when you don’t know exactly where you’ll end up often move from hopes for external rewards to gratitude for the internal rewards writing offers us.
For me, reconnecting to the joy I feel in reaching out, connecting, and helping others strengthens my drive to take action.
PROMPT 19 in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts (to Write a Story with a Plot From Beginning to End), I present the character’s motivation in the negative though my examples of motivating forces are both positive and negative. The examples tend to involve another character. When one character wants one thing and another character wants the complete opposite — or to take away what the first character has — actions create conflict and tension and page-turnability. The energy of the story surges.
Plot Prompt 19
The loss the protagonist will suffer if she is unsuccessful in reaching her goal determines what motivates her to strive for her goals, even in the face of tremendous odds. The greater the risk, the more exciting the story.
Some motivating forces are:
- Revenge (negative)
- Love (positive)
- Hate (negative)
- A promise (positive)
- Rebellion (positive)
- Betrayal (negative)
- Self-sacrifice (negative)
- Ambition (negative)
As you write, stay aware of the mood and promise of the story and convey them in scene. Show how the protagonist notices something new in her surroundings, something that has been there all along but that she only now notices. What surprises her about that?
Experiment writing one version of the scene:
- fast and violent
- slow and moody
- angry and choppy
- sexy and brooding
- innocent and scary
Each time notice something new.
(For 15 different scenes types, how and where to use them, and with plenty of examples, refer to Writing Deep Scenes).
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