Giving Your Characters Motivation [Character Development]

In real life, everyone has something they’re working towards. We all have a purpose, try to stand out, and – hopefully – do the right thing.

This goes for your characters as well. They’re all trying to live either own lives in the fictional world you created. They’re trying to stand out to your readers and they have a purpose to aid the plot in moving further.

In order to get to know your characters on a deeper level and figure out what they’re purpose is, you need to know one thing. Their motivations.

What Is Motivation?

Motivation allows your readers to figure out who the characters are and why they make the choices they make. It’s because of their motivations that the story is able to keep moving forward. However, it’s some decisions based on your characters that will make that good or bad.

Where Does Motivation Come From?

Motivation can come from anywhere, anything, and everyone. One thing can influence your character for better or worse.


Depending on whether your character had a happy childhood or not can show who they are as an adult. Certain experiences will remain in the back of their minds that they’ll take with them to adulthood.


Your character’s surroundings have a lot do with how they’ll act as well. Are they around good-hearted people? Chances are they’ll be influenced to make similar decisions. Are they happy where they are or not?

Personality Traits

Any trait you give your character will stand out and show who your character is. For example, if you have a character with an ambitious mind, chances are they may be a workaholic. How would that affect their home life? Their friends?

How Do You Show Motivation?


Every action has a reaction. One of the best ways to reveal your character is to show them doing something. Is there a problem? How do they solve it? There are a cause and effect for everything, think about how each situation will change your character in a way.


Your character will reveal a lot about himself if we’re able to see inside his head. His interactions with other characters will certainly show that as well. How does he act around people he likes? Dislikes? A crowd?

Let Your Reader Infer

You don’t need to reveal absolutely everything. Leave some room to show what your character is capable of, but allow your reader to get a feel for the character by inferring certain traits about them. Let them discover it for themselves and they’ll be eager to see what happens next.

What are some motivations you give your characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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19 thoughts on “Giving Your Characters Motivation [Character Development]

    • Yeah, I definitely feel like characters write themselves. If you have an idea for a plot though, it helps. Even if it might change down the line.

  1. Your ideas could come in very handy for fleshing out some of the parts you feel are a bit flat and hopefully lead to aspects of the character you never envisaged and help make them much more round

Let me know your thoughts!

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