Kath here. Today’s guest is historical fantasy novelist Jules Watson. You may remember Jules from her interview with valued WU contributor Anna Elliott about writing historical fantasy. Jules kindly returned to WU to provide more inspiration and motivation to writers in the growing historical fantasy market. Jules’s new book THE RAVEN QUEEN, a mystical story set in ancient Ireland, is garnering advanced praise. Enjoy!
Have you ever clapped a hand to your head when the heroine of the book or movie does something unbelievable, out of character, foolish, or just plain “huh?”
Writers focus on the “big” elements of plot, character, and description, but something just as important runs a bit more under the radar: motivation. Logic says that every action in a book should provoke a reaction. Everything your characters do should also be driven by a believable motivation (a pre-action?). After all, in childhood books, Spot only ran after Jane’s ball because he liked her patting him afterwards. He was motivated to get something for himself by pleasing Jane. From babyhood, humans are trained to look for reasons for things. That means as readers we look for reasons for things.
Sometimes we writers get so excited about a brilliant plot twist that we charge in without making sure we have planted sufficient motivations first: in the characters’ back stories, in their personalities, or in previous action sequences. If, without reason, you throw something in that goes against the character traits or story you have already established, it can frustrate the heck out of your readers.
Of course, you want your characters to be larger than life, especially in genre fiction. If you do need them to act illogically, just make sure they have a good motivation – and if that comes from an emotional base, all the better. Survival, love, freedom, or the wellbeing of society are strong motivations that will make characters do anything, and readers will accept why they do it. [Read more…]