The Green Eyed Monster and Hidden Character Motivations

I have a coworker who routinely holds prayer meetings in his cube across the aisle from mine. They’re not “Tent Revival” loud but they’re certainly loud enough to hear when the rest of the office is quiet. 

Recently I found myself annoyed. REALLY annoyed. 

But why? 

Nothing he said was offensive. He was not advocating the harming of anyone who didn’t share his faith. He’s actually a wonderful person, one of those genuinely good guys who does his utmost to walk his faith. And he’s always treated me with kindness and respect even knowing full well I don’t share his particular path. 

So why the heck was I so angry and irritated?

It took me a little while and a lot of introspection but I finally realized the annoyance was caused by jealousy. I was shocked! But I knew I’d found the true source because it felt like a little emotional boil had been lanced, pressure released. 

I was jealous of the fellowship he shared with others. Theirs is a deep spiritual bond I’ve experienced rarely and even then briefly. But, that is my issue, not his, so now when I hear his group gather I smile and wish him well on his journey. 

However, the whole situation made me think of my characters and their motivations. I thought I knew what the protagonist of my current book wanted (sex), but when I delved deeper I realized his primary motivation is to keep the status quo. He was happy at the very outset of the book, but, change is coming and he is powerless to stop it.

I’ve read numerous articles about how every scene should have characters who want something. Now that I have a better idea of what the heck my character wants the scenes should be easier to build… should …. I’ll let y’all know how that turns out.

 What moments of introspection have helped you in your writing or craft?

 

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