Have you ever wondered if super heroes are afraid? Is Wonder Woman ever afraid her golden lasso might break? When the Lone Ranger whistles for Silver and jumps off the rooftop, does he worry the horse won’t make it to the right spot in time? Sure, the Man of Steel can bend steel, outrun a speeding bullet, and leap tall buildings, but is he ever afraid the bad guy might have a hunk of Kryptonite stashed in a lead box, ready to turn him into a weakling?
I say, yes, because in their hearts, like most of us, even Super Heroes don’t want conflict. But something stronger than fear motivates them to go forward instead of retreating. Some reason or ideology pushes them to greater heights than normal. A reason so compelling that they must act, in spite of their fear.
That elusive reason is what writers seek for their courageous characters. Most of us don’t like conflict. In fact, we will go to great lengths to avoid it. However, as writers we are told that we have to put our characters in conflict and then more conflict to make our stories work. We don’t know about you, but this is hard, since most of us run from our own conflicts.
So, how does a writer make his character motivated? What kinds of things motivate characters to go forward in spite of their fears?
Here’s a list of reasons that might motivate your characters to act courageously even though they are terrified.
- If they don’t act someone will get hurt, possibly themselves.
- They are facing a do-or-die situation.
- They are motivated by revenge.
- If they don’t act they will be badly embarrassed.
- They are motivated by monetary reasons.
- An overpowering goal is motivating them to act.
- They have been pushed to the edge of their ability to stomach whatever.
- If they don’t act they will lose face and possibly power.
- They must act because their ideological passions are being challenged.
- They are motivated by passion, either love or hate.
These are only a few things that can motivate characters to act.
Can you think of others?