How We Write Wednesdays: Layering Motivation Into Plot

Last week, we had a great discussion about motivation. How it takes more than basic plotting to get your protagonist believably through his or her scenes. She can’t  just be doing things. The reader must identify with why she’s doing what she’s doing. Her motives. Her goals. What’s stopping her from getting where she needs to go. Make that come alive on the page, and you’ve got yourself a plot, a story, that a reader won’t be able to stop reading.

But how do you develop motivation on such a deep level? Since it’s Wednesday, Jenni’s taking the reins of this How We Write tangent over on her blog. I’m sure she’ll be nice. I mean, maybe there will be a bit of snark and revenge in her post, after I used one of her manuscripts as my example last week. But I’m a big girl. I can take it ;o)


Seriously, she’s talking more about the brainstorming we did together while she was reworking her work-in-progress, and you don’t want to miss it.  Today, you’ll hear what happened AFTER we broke through and she started discovering why her protagonist was doing all the dark, driven things she was on the page.

Of course as a writer, once you start looking at a character’s motives–really looking at them–you start to see holes in your plot. Which makes you think more about character. Which shows you how little you really know about what you’re doing with your story. It’s funny how plot and character layer into each other that way. And it’s reality, the longer you work at writing and completing and then starting new books. The basics become what they were meant to be–merely the beginning of your process–and the creativity (and hard work) of an artist takes over.

Sound like a bottomless cycle? Not at all. Check Jenni’s HoWW post out to see how important for your WIP this sort of brainstorming with your own writing/critique buddies can be. After everything I pushed her to understand about her protagonist, she FINALLY got me to talk about her plot. Jenni’s most favorite thing.

Then check back over here  next Wednesday, and I’ll be about all things character again. MY most favorite thing ;o)

See, we both got what we wanted.

No revenge necessary, Jenni.

I’m just saying.

Writing and rewriting your book is a cycle. A lovely, layering cycle that weaves the hard work you do on your plot and characters tighter and tighter together, until you can’t tell one from the other… And THAT is what we here at HoWW Wednesdays like to call a story.

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7 Responses to “How We Write Wednesdays: Layering Motivation Into Plot”

  1. Having you do a conflict box is revenge enough….

    Funny you bring up revenge. When I think back to those brainstorming sessions we had that weekend the only thing that comes to mind is a kind of happy exciting feeling of “I did it”. But if we had that kind of brainstorming session with my work just a few shorts years prior…oh I’d be plotting my revenge.

    Layering plot and subplots used to be so easy…until I learned my character motivations and actions weren’t always matching up and I didn’t understand why because I couldn’t see how they need to be woven. When we say it, it all seems so logical, but doing it in our work is something entirely different.

    One big change I made during this process was to plot, then plot through character. Its amazing what comes out of that.

  2. Mary Preston says:

    When I read I always appreciate the extra effort that goes into the writing. It shows through, unconsciously and consciously.

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