Here’s how it is: the Earth got used up, so Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR. Those who possess it no longer bound by the laws of equivalent exchange in alchemy. Their mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. The people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups– psychopaths and mystery writers. I’m the kind that pays better. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. There is nothing wrong with your television set.
If you must blink, do it now.
(Try and guess all of them in the comments, I’ll tell you if you’re right!)
So I saw Kubo and the Two Strings this weekend and it was good. Like, really good. On the scale of Shark Tale to PIXAR, it’s a solid The Little Mermaid. The animation is gorgeous– LAIKA has really outdone themselves this time, especially with all of the origami scattered throughout the film. The characters are wonderful too, from the design, to the animation (again), to the actors (though they sort-of oversold Takei’s role, it’s basically a cameo), to the dialogue. The fight sequences were great as well, extremely well choreographed with very fluid motion and interesting to look at. Plus the fact that the movie used proper lighting so you could actually see all the action. And the story… um… Well, the story is…
Okay, time to get meta.
What is Character Motivation?
valeriemclean1919 Beauty and the Beast, character motivation, characters, Dead Man's Chest, Disney, Hamilton, Hamlet, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pirates of the Carribean, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Wizard of Oz, William Shakespeare, Wreck-It-Ralph, Writing About Film, About Other Art, About TV, About Writing 0 Comments
Character motivation is possibly the most important aspect of narrative writing. Without character motivation, there’s no plot. And while narrative art without plot does exist (just ask Dziga Vertov or Godfrey Reggio) most books, films, tv shows, stage productions, and other things that we tend to associate with the art of language (as opposed to visual or musical art) has some kind of plot. And the most basic of these plots? Character wants something, has to overcome obstacles to get it, and either succeeds or fails. Luke Skywalker wants an adventure, he leaves the planet, blows up a Death Star, and becomes a hero. Indiana Jones wants to find the Ark of the Covenant, he contacts an old girlfriend, flies to Egypt, and the Nazi’s faces melt. Prince Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s murder, he grapples with his mental illness, distances himself from his social circle, and then kills King Claudius, but dies in the process.
Character motivations can change over the course of a story, usually as a “be careful what you wish for” kind of thing. You also can have unmotivated characters that are notable in their lack of motivation. But most plot consists of the motivation of the protagonist coming directly into conflict with the motivation of the antagonist, or the motivation of society, or the motivation of the universe itself sometimes. Figuring out your protagonist’s motivation is entangled in the plot and conflict of the story.
I’m going to look at a few different stories with varying complexity in terms of motivations and how they work, because unlike my other writing advice, figuring out your own character’s motivation is individual to your character and story. You can list a million different stories that have a million different characters with a million different motivations. I’m looking at these stories, but there are plenty more examples to look at if you’re having trouble.
That said, here are some examples.