Character Motivation

For the man who is extremely and dangerously hungry, no other interest exists but food. He dreams food, he remembers food, he thinks about food, he emotes about food and he wants only food.”

Abraham Maslow

Character motivation involves both internal needs and external situations. The situation is an external goal that needs to be solved, while the internal need is a basic physical or psychological desire. The two conditions, related and entwined, will decide how your character acts in any given situation. Without internal motivation, goals external to one’s self could not exist.

Examples:
  • I am hungry, and driven to find food.
  • Thirsty and will find a beverage.
  • Love struck and I will go to the ends of the earth for my darling princess’ requitement.

Sarah Lumptin is overweight and falling in love with Jason Bell, but feels inadequate due to her ample weight gain from antipsychotic use. Because of this, she foresees a spinstress’ life.

Internal: guilt, love, fear

External: goal to date Jason

Motivation: struggle to lose weight to gain date with Jason is driving force behind story.


Relative Needs

  1. Physiological
    • Food
    • Water
    • Shelter
    • Basic Sustenance of life comes first
  2. Safety and Security
    • Self-preservation
    • Not only the need to be free of physical endangerment but perception that this is so
  3. Affiliation Needs
    • A sense of belonging
    • Sharing a physical closeness with others
    • Acceptance by others
    • Coffee Shop
    • Socail Club
    • Sports Team
    • First sociological need
  4. Esteem Needs
    • recognition as being outstanding
    • self-esteem garnered from group
  5. Self-Actualization
    • An individual’s concepts in life thought to be needed to maximize potential
    • Studying
    • Gaining Strength (Weight Lifting)
    • Attending Church

These needs are in order of precedence and, like the quote at the top of the page states, there must be a satisfaction of the most basic physiological needs before your psyche allows consideration towards the lowest. Since survival is a top requirement, these sorts of needs create the most suspense in a story.

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