Character Motivation

Motivating your Babies!

One of the biggest problems when writing a story is giving characters believable and lasting motivations. Why do they do what they do or act how they act? Where do they want to go with their lives and what is the drive behind every little detail? Without this, there is no story because well, people don’t do things for no reason.

I hit a wall when it comes to figuring out my character’s motivation. What is it? What the hell do they want? What is the purpose of the story as a whole? I went through books, websites, and various blogs but I couldn’t find a concrete list of motivators. There were the generic ones like Love, Family, Hope, etc. As great as they are, they couldn’t be the only ones out there.

So I asked myself, what other motivators are out there?

After harassing my co-blogger and a ten hour Skype call, we compiled a list. We got some help from sites that mentioned a handful of motivators, which you’ll find linked below.

I hope this list can help other writers out there as much as it helped me.


Motivation Index: expands on a good number of motivations to better understand them. The site also offers a list of goals and examples for each.

15 Interesting Motivations for Villains and Heroes: further walk through for 15 motivations. If nothing else, they will spark thought.


Envy Loyalty Happiness Hatred/Anger
Approval Pride Greed Acceptance
Love Power Prejudice Perfection
Companionship Sadness/Depression Freedom Protection/Safety
Guilt Lust Family Money
Boredom Jealousy Desperation Advancement
Curiosty Religion Society Competition
Honor Strength Failure Ambition
Destiny Independence Commitment Helping Others
Stability Loneliness Privacy Paranoia
Revenge Survival Self Preservation Justice/Morals
Money Food Dislike of People Possessiveness
Health/Disease War/Conflict Betrayal Death
Loss Hope Fear Peer Pressure

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