Motivating Factors

Do you have any pet peeves? Of course you do. It’s okay to admit it–we all do.

One of the things I feel strongly about when I write is a character’s drive. When I am reading a story, there are certain things I can let slide. If it’s a good read, I can look past a few weak plot points. I can push through an introduction that doesn’t move me, giving it a chance to pick up later on. I can slog through those chapters, you know the ones. Full of explanatory dialogue, as if the author couldn’t trust his or her readers to pick up the subtle hints along the way, and felt the need to lay it all out, effectively killing the book’s replay value.

But one thing that just makes me sad is a book with a strong premise and flat characters. It feels like so much wasted potential. If you can’t relate, can’t connect, can’t feel what the characters are feeling, then what is it that keeps you reading? I want to know what drives the characters. What motivates them to do–or not do–certain things. What is their passion, and in what ways does it affect the flow of the plot? I like characters that become so real, so alive, that I feel as though they could walk into the room, and we could sit down and have a conversation like old friends. Or even, perhaps, mortal enemies.

What are the things that you look for in a story? Is it the fresh, unpredictable plot that keeps you turning the pages? Do you live for the adrenaline rush that accompanies a long-awaited climax? Is it description so lush, that you can close your eyes and effortlessly transport yourself to that fictional land? Or are you like me, driven by driven characters? Whatever it is that makes you passionate about reading, ultimately we all want the same thing. A story that’s memorable and moving. And that is a noble goal, indeed.

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