Why does character motivation matter?

character motivation matter

Why does character motivation matter?

The motivation of a character is one of the fundamental elements when writing a story. Motivation is always relevant, but especially when it comes to the protagonist. Motivation is what is behind every action that your protagonist undertakes. Why does character motivation matter? And its importance lies in the fact that it helps the reader understand why the character does what he does.

Why does character motivation matter?

Without motivation, any narrative, be it a novel or a story, would be no more than the more or less attractive description of some facts. The motivation of the actors of these events is what gives them a deeper meaning. That meaning is what interests the reader.

If your characters, especially your protagonist, do not have a clear motivation, your story will be flat, inane. The reader will not really get to know your character and, by not understanding what drives him to act as he acts, he will be left out of the story.

Therefore, you have to make it clear from the first moment what it is that drives each act of your character. What is your motivation?

Now, there are different types of motivation that you can use to get your protagonist moving. We see.

Can you think of a better motivation to act than the desire to stay alive?

Being in mortal danger (or at least believing that you are) is one of the most powerful triggers. And since it is an extreme situation, it can lead to extreme decisions.

A person who has failed will do everything possible to leave that situation.

It can be a sentimental, economic, work, or vital failure. The important thing is that your protagonist is going to put all his strength into play to stop feeling like a failure.

Sometimes we do not act on our own accord but are driven by what others expect of us.

The pressure is an excellent motivation to make your protagonist move, who tries not to disappoint his parents or please a friend.

As motivation does not come from him but is imposed to a certain extent, this type of motivation usually gives rise to very interesting internal conflicts.


Curiosity is perhaps the best of the virtues of the human being. It is what has led us from the caverns to launch space rockets.

And it’s a powerful reason for your character to get going. What is beyond the limits of the town? What happens if I open that door? Who is my new co-worker?

A curious character is always a game.


Guilt can also act as motivation for your character. The protagonist has committed an act of which he feels guilty. Now, motivated by guilt, you can try to redeem yourself and make amends for your mistake. Or you may try to hide what you have done because you fear the consequences. Or you may run away, embarrassed that others have discovered your sin. Exploring the possibilities will give you many options.


Desiring something or someone is always a powerful reason to act. The protagonist has an objective, something to achieve, and he will take all the actions that are necessary to achieve it.

Lack of stability

This is a fixture in any storytelling. At first, something happens that destabilizes the world of the protagonist. And all that the character undertakes until the end is in order to return to the starting point, to a previous situation in which he felt comfortable.

But also the lack of stability can be used throughout the novel as motivation. Things tend to be precarious again and again and the protagonist tries to amend himself incessantly to achieve a stable position that allows him to feel safe.

You may also like to read Stay motivated to get rid of 7 mentally unstable signs

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