5 Character Motives You Need To Write Your Next Story

Every action has a motive or is a result of multiple motives, especially in a storyline. Not having a motive for all the actions carried out in a story creates the biggest plot hole. It is essential to create a credible motivational force that will form the base of the story.

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What do we mean by Character Motives

Motives refer to the reasons to do something discreetly or indiscreetly. Character motive is the deriving force that leads the characters to commit actions. The motive is what forms the foundation of a plot. It keeps the plot moving and makes the characters credible 

One could believe that character motives are limited to only fictional works of literature. This is not true. When we talk about a motive, we are talking about what was the reason behind it, what inspired it, what caused the action. 

The question of Why?

If you open a nonfiction piece of writing, you can find a ‘motive’ there too. Autobiographies and biographies are mainly based on motives — we read about their life stories, how the events of their lives led to multiple achievements, etc. 

All literary works are an amalgamation of varying motives. We cannot assign a single motive to any work. We can have one principal motive and multiple sub-motives. Or multiple motives can emerge into one dominating motivational force. 

Another important point to note is we don’t consider the motive of just one character. There is always an opposing force. Without the opposition, the storyline becomes incredulous. Taking into account the motive of the antagonist and protagonist is a must, but we also consider the motivations of secondary characters. It adds more spice to the plot.

5 Commonly Observed Character Motives

Conquering a Quest

A quest is a trip to accomplish a specific task. We often come across such stories in which the lead characters go on an adventure to complete a task that is crucial for the characters themselves, or the community. 

A treasure map is one of the most essential components of such a plot, along with fictional creatures and varied obstacles.

Jumanji and Pirates Of The Caribbean are some of the most famous movies we all must have definitely watched with the dominating theme of conquering a quest. Stories like The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Disney movie, Frozen, also have their plot revolving around completing a quest. The Pixar movie Onward is based on two brothers going on an adventure to solve a quest.

Dora The Explorer is a character who goes on several adventures.

Fulfiling a Prophecy

A prophecy is a prediction of what is going to happen in the future. The lead characters are usually destined to fulfill a prophecy or prevent it from occurring.The oracles or fortune-tellers usually foretell these prophecies. This theme is accompanied by the stock character of ‘the chosen one’ i.e. it is the ‘chosen one’ who is meant to fulfill the prophecy.

In some plot lines, we come across self-fulfilling prophecies. This refers to a prediction that leads to such actions that it somehow causes the prophecy to become true. 

We all have watched the movie Krrish. In that, Dr. Arya had built a machine that could predict the future which shows him dying at the hands of Krrish. He goes hunting for Krrish to kill him first, but eventually dies just as foretold by the computer. This is a classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One of the greatest Greek playwrights, Sophocles, had drafted a tragedy known as Oedipus Rex, in which prophecies play a central role in the plot. 

Harry Potter was the chosen one to fulfill the prophecy.

Stopping a Monster

This is quite a well-known motive we come across. In such themes, there is a creature that has caused havoc, and it is the job of the protagonists to put an end to it. The lead characters either capture the monster, kill it or escape from it

The Jurassic Park franchise and the Godzilla movie franchise are classic examples of this motive. 

Storylines focusing on monsters can be of any genre — from comedies such as Monsters Inc and Hotel Transylvania to horrors such as Anaconda and It

End of the World

When we talk about the end of the world, we can observe two primary motives based on that. The protagonists either have to stop the end of the world or survive the aftermath of it. A spinoff to this theme is surviving a disaster. 

Since it is a fictional world, the doomsday or the disaster can be caused due to any factor — scientific anomaly, or an alien attack. Movies such as the GeostormThe Day After TomorrowSan Andreas, and of course, the remarkable movie 2012, are some examples that focus on the end of the world. 

The movie Ice Age is also based on surviving the meltdown of ice caps.


A vigilante is a person or a group of people — civilians — who undertake the responsibility of law enforcement without legal authority. Pretty much all the superheroes are vigilantes.

Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary — all of them are just civilians who do not own the legal right to punish the ‘bad guys’. 

Now the purpose why one chooses to become a vigilante can be varied. It could be losing a loved one and fulfilling their last wish, getting revenge, or maybe protecting the rest of the city.

Other motives include avenging the death of a loved one, world domination, etc.

Motives of Character

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vBX1QGPaCeU?feature=oembedMotives of Character

Put Your Knowledge To Work

Every now and then a story prompt crosses our mind yet we fail to write down a whole story because of our lack of creative writing skills. Not anymore, though. Podium School brings you the best and easiest Creative Writing Blog to help to bloom those writing skills.

We have the beginner’s guide to creative writing that will help you go through all the aspects of writing. Check out the following articles to augment your knowledge regarding creative writing –

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