Friday, June 7, 2013

#5 Critique Partner Series - Motivation


I am in no way a professional.  I don't have a fancy education to back up writing (that is reserved for mathematics), but I do know what I like to read and I do know when I read something that doesn't quite jive for me.  So WELCOME to my CRITIQUE PARTNER SERIES!  It is minus the partner, because I don't actually know any of the writers whose work I am reading, but here I will offer my advice.  Much of my advice you can find everywhere else on the internet.  None of it is professional.  All of it is...I can't think of anything to finish this sentence with.  I liked the whole "Much of it, none of it, all of it" thing I had going on at the start of each sentence, but I'm far too lazy to spend time thinking how to end that sentence, especially when this is only a blog developed for my personal enjoyment.  Always forwards, never backwards (unless it’s the delete key)!

#5 Critique Partner Series - Motivation

Why does Cinderella need to go to the party?  Why does the prince have a party in the first place?  Why does Cinderella leave behind her slipper?  Why does the prince seek out the owner of said slipper?  Why do Cinderella’s sisters chop off their toes and heels?

What are your characters’ motivations?  They’ve got them, or at least, they should.  However, sometimes it doesn’t quite come off the way we want it to in our writing. 

When I read, I have an annoying tendency to question everything from why a character twirls her hair to the secret reason behind the empty coffee pot.  I usually see foreshadowing an hour before the sun rises.  That’s annoying because my sense of wonder at the sunrise sometimes dies when I already have a sneaking suspicion (because all suspicions sneak) the sky will be pink, but it also allows me to wonder why I’m up so early.  Couldn’t I have slept in?  Am I a morning person?  Did the kids get me up early?  Did I even go to bed last night?  Why was I awake all last night, if I didn’t go to bed?  You get the point.  What’s my motivation for watching the sun rise?

When I write, it’s also a terribly wonderful tendency.  It helps me delve into my characters’ minds, and it certainly helps me understand why my characters make their choices. I over think everything, too.  Each word is specially crafted for the character.  She says “maintain” here instead of “keep.”  I’m the only person in the world who will notice that my character could have said “keep” but she that she chose to say “maintain” instead.  I’m the only person in the world who will think about why she said “maintain” and not “keep.”

In the last manuscript I critiqued, I found myself filling the margins with questions like these:   If she’s scared, why doesn’t she run away?  This is funny; why doesn’t she laugh here?   When you write, you’ll want to ask your characters the same questions.  Question everything your characters say and do.

I’ll leave you off with a few lines from Weezer.  I know exactly what his motivation is.
-Your mom cooked meatloaf, even though I don’t eat meat. I dug you so much, I took some for the team.

My question for you:
What are some tips you can give for making your characters' motivations clear?