The Pyramid of Motivation
First, thanks to Rach for having me here on her Theory on Thursday!
If you’ve written a story or even looked into doing so, one of the major parts of a story you’re trying to grasp is GMC. No, not the car company, but the Goals, Motivations and Conflicts of a story.
The goals are what the hero or heroine want to achieve in the story. But, we must ask, WHY do they want to achieve this goal? What is their MOTIVATION for pursuing it?
Motivation can be hard and you need to dig into your character’s background and soul to find the answer. One of the tools I use is a theory I learned in nursing school.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Abraham Maslow theorized that what a person needs follows different levels – or hierarchies – and we pursue each level in order.
Level One Basic Needs --- Food, water, shelter
Level Two Safety – Knowing there’s no danger in life
Level Three – Love and Acceptance
I think most romances will deal with level three because only with true love can you move to the other two levels.
But how do you determine a character’s motivation? Take the heroine who wants to win the top spot in a competition. Why is winning so important to her?
Because she wants the prestige. Because she wants the acceptance of her family. A writer could immediately move to the third level of Maslow’s hierarchy.
But what if that wasn’t the real reason? Maybe there was something more pressing n her mind. Level One, Basic Needs. What if she needs the prize money? What if she loses then she loses everything she has: her home, her business. And if she loses those, she could potentially lose the next two levels.
If you’re stuck with motivation for your characters, I’d recommend a good look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It will provide you with a wealth of insight into your character.