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  1. #1

    What types of general motives do you think are the most interesting?

    Do you generally enjoy writing/movies/stories/etc that involve good guys "saving the world/universe"? Defeating an enemy who wishes to conquer all? Defending against some external source? Something revolving around love?

    What, generally, do you think makes for the most interesting story structure overall?

  2. #2
    known as Noumenon no more Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Weighing in, maybe uselessly, I have to say that in my opinion there's no answer to this that isn't wholly subjective, interesting though that may be. I enjoy stories that run the gamut from galaxy spanning, cult-spawning sf to introverted, ideosyncratic character study - and the range of what motivates at either extreme (or anywhere through the middle) can be as similar or different as two peas in a pod. How the writer handles their material is more key for me than that material hitting a particular hook.

    On a side note, your last sentence threw me a bit - maybe it's because I've spent half the day planning a workshop on story structure for one of my writers groups, but I don't see how "motivation" has anything to do with story structure at all. Three Act Structure and The Hero's Journey haz teh win (as I understand the kids say), but using them says nothing about the nature of the tale you want to tell.

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    it could be worse Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Personally, I like the soul-searching sort of stories mixed in with external forces pushing our heroine into morally questionable grounds.

  4. #4
    Some elements are there, to some extent. You will always have a bit of that or this. The question is, what people do in dire circumstances. That's the interesting part. You can have someone bent on destroying the world, but if everyone opposes them, it's not interesting. Finding the little selfish things that drive us above all else is what makes is special.
    Igor

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Noumenon View Post
    Weighing in, maybe uselessly, I have to say that in my opinion there's no answer to this that isn't wholly subjective, interesting though that may be. I enjoy stories that run the gamut from galaxy spanning, cult-spawning sf to introverted, ideosyncratic character study - and the range of what motivates at either extreme (or anywhere through the middle) can be as similar or different as two peas in a pod. How the writer handles their material is more key for me than that material hitting a particular hook.

    On a side note, your last sentence threw me a bit - maybe it's because I've spent half the day planning a workshop on story structure for one of my writers groups, but I don't see how "motivation" has anything to do with story structure at all. Three Act Structure and The Hero's Journey haz teh win (as I understand the kids say), but using them says nothing about the nature of the tale you want to tell.
    Well I am more focused on the motivation side of things -- the reasons why characters do what they do that drives the main narrative.

    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    Personally, I like the soul-searching sort of stories mixed in with external forces pushing our heroine into morally questionable grounds.
    Care to elaborate with an example or two?

    Quote Originally Posted by Igor View Post
    Some elements are there, to some extent. You will always have a bit of that or this. The question is, what people do in dire circumstances. That's the interesting part. You can have someone bent on destroying the world, but if everyone opposes them, it's not interesting. Finding the little selfish things that drive us above all else is what makes is special.
    Igor
    Do you mean to imply finding something to relate to in every character, good or bad?

  6. #6
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Noumenon, I read that last line from the OP as basically asking how our characters' motivations influence the plot of their stories and, therefore, the structure of the book. Hero's Journey? Is that not a structure based on some pretty strong motivations such as anger, need for revenge, desire for knowledge, love for the beautiful girl/boy, etc?

    I like the motivations of loyalty and betrayal. The exploration of those between two characters, often as a character study, are what I have been exploring for the past few years. Both, I think, can drive a person to some great and terrible things. Things such as throwing yourself in front of a car to save your friend's life, or turning your back on your best friend and handing him over to the the person who should be both of yours greatest enemy. And, then, what comes of that for the character? That is what I want to know.

  7. #7
    Something that that holds social relevance or emotional effect like:
    A.Battling the evils of nationalism and statism
    B.Fighting to liberate the oppressed
    C.Trying to stop humanity from destroying itself
    D.Revealing and defeating blatant classism
    E.Trying to find out why a particular event happened
    F.The hero is trying to restore the balance of nature
    G.Revenge if it's well written
    H.Trying to stop the madness of fundamentalism of both the secular and theistic variety
    I.Fighting to show that the will of the individual must always be respected
    J.Keeping a promise they made to someone long ago(These stories have the power to make me tear up like few other things)

  8. #8
    Perhaps I misspoke (I apologize since I am often loose with my speech... not exactly a good thing around other writers!) -- I am asking more about the motives of the characters than the structure (e.g. Three Act Structure) -- I was using "story structure" in a very general sense (I could have just said "story" there).

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    Peckish hippokrene's Avatar
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    Survival.

    (More than 10 characters.)

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    Shadow's Lure (June 2011)
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    Quote Originally Posted by CausticDuality View Post
    Do you generally enjoy writing/movies/stories/etc that involve good guys "saving the world/universe"? Defeating an enemy who wishes to conquer all? Defending against some external source? Something revolving around love?

    What, generally, do you think makes for the most interesting story structure overall?
    (bold mine)

    I'm playing with your words, but I don't go for "general" motives. I much prefer specific motives, and they can be as simple as someone wanting to go home, or as complex as a young god's search for meaning in a life lived among mortal people, as long as they are specific.

  11. #11
    Well, by "generally," I mean to imply that some motives are easier to make more interesting than others.

    For instance, when hearing a story about a big-bad out to destroy the universe for the sake of power, such a thing is not very interesting.

    However, other motives might be much more versatile/interesting.

    It is those motives I am asking for opinions on.

  12. #12
    known as Noumenon no more Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CausticDuality View Post
    Perhaps I misspoke (I apologize since I am often loose with my speech... not exactly a good thing around other writers!) -- I am asking more about the motives of the characters than the structure (e.g. Three Act Structure) -- I was using "story structure" in a very general sense (I could have just said "story" there).
    Okay, gotcha!

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage View Post
    I read that last line from the OP as basically asking how our characters' motivations influence the plot of their stories and, therefore, the structure of the book. Hero's Journey? Is that not a structure based on some pretty strong motivations such as anger, need for revenge, desire for knowledge, love for the beautiful girl/boy, etc?
    Yes, I would substitute "plot" for structure in the OP. I'm not sure I agree with your and, therefore point though (and I don't know if this is the place to get into it!)(but what the hell). Plot could be described as "structure" in the sense of the sequence of events in the story, but use of a Three Act Structure can be entirely independent of plot - hence the affection Hollywood has for it.

    I suppose that in a longer text, such as a novel, the structure could include more acts than just three, but typically this simply means additional dramatic reversals within what would have been "Act 2" in the standard 3AS. The danger would be treating each "act" as a discrete adventure in the larger story, which might make the overall story feel episodic.

    In any case, The Hero's Journey can apply to any narrative, regardless of the number of acts. The particular driving emotion is moot; the H'sJ is just a structure, and could be fleshed out into a story about apathy as easily as passion. The sole intention is to make the story clear, but what the writer chooses to do with it unconstrained. Of course this can include subverting the H'sJ, but that's just a different way of using it...
    Last edited by Andrew Leon Hudson; October 30th, 2012 at 07:28 PM.

  13. #13
    Shadow's Lure (June 2011)
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    Quote Originally Posted by CausticDuality View Post
    Well, by "generally," I mean to imply that some motives are easier to make more interesting than others.

    For instance, when hearing a story about a big-bad out to destroy the universe for the sake of power, such a thing is not very interesting.

    However, other motives might be much more versatile/interesting.

    It is those motives I am asking for opinions on.
    Not sure I agree. It all comes down to the execution. Motivation A is not inherently more interesting than Motivation B. If the Big Bad has a specific, compelling reason to want the power granted by seizing control of the world/universe, that motivation will be interesting.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Sprunk View Post
    Not sure I agree. It all comes down to the execution. Motivation A is not inherently more interesting than Motivation B. If the Big Bad has a specific, compelling reason to want the power granted by seizing control of the world/universe, that motivation will be interesting.
    Okay, so, for example, consider the following:

    -Big Bad wants to control the universe because he grew up with oppression and is basically lashing out (a sort of Magneto motive)

    Would this be an "interesting" motive? Because even to me, I am not sure I'd find it interesting even though it is a specific/compelling reason. This is my main difficulty -- finding interesting motives.


    Generally speaking I tend to find that conflict is usually between good vs. evil or everyone vs. some external force, where good and evil are binned by selfishness versus what's best for everyone. Would you agree with this?

  15. #15
    known as Noumenon no more Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CausticDuality View Post
    Big Bad wants to control the universe because he grew up with oppression and is basically lashing out (a sort of Magneto motive)

    Would this be an "interesting" motive? Because even to me, I am not sure I'd find it interesting even though it is a specific/compelling reason. This is my main difficulty -- finding interesting motives.
    In isolation it might not be - but no-one's motives exist in isolation. The villain plays against the hero, and both struggle in the context of society (which can have its own "motives", in conflict with all those of various individuals).

    Anyway, what you describe for Big Bad has an empathetic aspect: he was once oppressed. A strong enough motivation to fuel the drive for racial, gender, sexual and international equality for a start.
    Last edited by Andrew Leon Hudson; October 30th, 2012 at 07:38 PM. Reason: I've got to stop spending all night finessing my posts

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