Monday, February 11, 2013

Hope as a Driving Force


What motivates your character? 

Sometimes it's fear, or revenge, or pity. But beneath the layers of motivation, there's a core HOPE. What does he hope will happen? What are his reasonable expectations vs. his greatest hope -- the best possible outcome?

In one of my stories, my main character's initial hope is completely unconnected with the shiny premise. That's because she isn't expecting time travel to pop up in her life. After it does, her hopes begin to center around that:

  • She hopes the genius who invented time travel doesn't botch the past.
  • She hopes they can get their scattered group back together in the 15th century before their 21st century boat leaves them marooned.
  • She hopes whoever's blowing things up in the past doesn't irreparably change the timeline.

And some of her hopes still involve the mundane:

  • She hopes her co-staff, the hot Welshman, won't drop her like a hot potato when he finds out she isn't the poor cruise worker she appears to be, but a trust fund baby just like the spoiled passengers he detests.
  • She hopes she'll get into Cambridge in the Social Anthropology program as an international student. 
  • She hopes she'll be able to balance her incoming wealth with her social consciousness and not be like those yuppies she's studying in her anthropology journal.
  • She hopes the arranged marriage her parents have planned will just go away, although she also fears the uncertainty of anything less than an arranged marriage. 

You can see how some of her hopes are complex and even contradictory with her fears. That's real life for anyone going through a Decision Point in her life.

What is your MC's greatest hope?

Katrina's blog pic


  1. Love this post, as the two MCs in Pity Isn't An Option happen to NOT have much hope at all. And yet... they have to have it at least a little in order to continue, even if they don't know it!

    I'd say Jonas' biggest hope is that he'll be accepted as the person he once was, and not seen by everyone as sick all the time. And Hattie's hope is that she can keep her family together.

    And now I want to read this "story"... your MC sounds awesome! :)


    1. It's true, sometimes the hope our characters feel is deeply rooted under a lot of fear. But it's the hope that drives us forward. I'm looking forward to reading yours, too, Jessica! Thank you for stopping by today and saying hello. :)

  2. What a lovely pic.... Your son is too cute!

    Hope is a great driving force in a novel Katrina,

    My second novel is about an abused Army brat whose hope is to live another day....

    1. Michael, thank you!

      Sounds like a very dark story, but one that needs to be told. Thanks for your comment, Michael! <--love your name, btw.

  3. I like that you're making the distinction here between hopes and goals. So much emphasis is put on goals (and obstacles) when plotting that it's easy to forget that hope and faith play big parts in our stories.

    1. Hi, Angelica! Thanks for commenting! Yes, I've benefited from all the discussion of character goals lately, but I wanted to talk about that gleam of hope that is behind every action. Without hope, we get people who have no reason to go anywhere or do anything. Because even if they have desires and needs, they don't believe they'll actually achieve them. I'm thinking of Katniss's mom in the first Hunger Games book.

  4. Love this post! Hope is a driving force for my protagonist in my middle grade WIP: she has horrid parents and knows it (caricature-style bad, like the parents in Harry Potter or Matilda--not evil bad), but her greatest hope is that life holds something bigger for her--something beyond a life where her biggest challenge is trying to get her parents to love her.

    1. Oh, and she also hopes to be a Scotland Yard detective :)


Speak up! You will be heard...or read.