Thursday, January 12, 2012


Today I wanted to look more on motivation and how it may look in our characters. First though we need to talk more about two different kinds of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is driven by the good feeling that a person gets from just doing the task at hand. It is important to do the task because it makes the person feel better about who they are. The person will work through the task more willingly than a person working for an extrinsic reward. Some things that affect how intrinsically motivated a person is on three main factors: autonomy, results are not determined by luck, and the task is not rote just to achieve a goal for example rote learning to get a good grade in a class.

Extrinsic motivation is driven by an external motivator i.e. working for money. People who are extrinsically motivated will not be the best workers in the company unless the extrinsic motivator is highly motivating. Studies have shown that too much extrinsic motivation can reduce intrinsic motivation. This is seen in school as well. Students are working for the grade rather than to learn and so they really don't learn other than the answers to the test. In order to increase intrinsic motivation extrinsic motivation can be used as long as the task is tied to an internal value or belief of the individual.

When working with our characters in our books we need to determine what motivates them and that thing that is motivating them is it going to last or at what point will another motivator change the characters view on the task. For example think about the difference between a man fighting to save his country and family and that of a  mercenary hired to fight for a country. In the first case the motivator of the man is family, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the second the motivator is money. What motivator would change the first man's will to fight for his family? What motivator would change the second man's will to fight?

Our characters all have motivators whether they are intrinsic or extrinsic and those motivators influence the decisions that those characters will make.

After thinking my goal through a little I realized that if I wanted to be published by the end of January a beta reader would have to read my book in about a week, a little unrealistic :) My new goal is the end of February (it will be a good birthday present anyway). So if you would like to beta read my book I would appreciate the help and hopefully this new goal will give more people the opportunity to do it.

Thanks for all of your support.


  1. true on their motivations...

    so what are you looking for in a beta? editing or content?

  2. One of my grandmother's favorite quotes goes along with this. "Happiness doesn't come from doing what we want to do. It comes from doing what we don't want to do and being glad we did it." Having the character's motivation to do something change is a great way to show character development. As an example look at Han Solo he wants to rescue initially because Luke promises him money, but in the end he comes back because he wants to protect his friends.

  3. I think that when it comes to characters, it's best to have a bit of both going on. I like having the extrinsic motivations leading to the internal motivation. :-)

  4. Interesting post. Since I'm an intuitive writer, I don't give conscious thought to a lot of the stuff that creates character and plot, but as I was reading this, I realized that the main character of my second novel begins with extrinsic motivations and grows into embracing intrinsic ones (and in the end, he is much, much happier!). Thank you, as always, for the insight!


Show your support and keep my spirits hi (truly this all about me) by commenting and letting me know how fantastic, amazing, wonderful and terrific the posts are. Oh yeah and have fun with your comments, add to the story and above all comment!!