Monday, February 7, 2011

Part X Suspense - Goals and Motivation

For believable characters, all readers need to understand the character’s motivation for committing or solving a crime. Suspense tends to be fast paced and depends on action and psychological tension so a clear motivation provides reality for the reader.

A novel offers two significant ways to provide information different from a movie or TV.
• Time - The character has the advantage of multiple scenes to show motivation.
• Introspection - The character can reveal motivation, goal and attitudes in his thoughts.

Goals are best understood when the reader understands the motivation. Why does he kill children? Why is he stalking the woman? Why does she marry and then kill her spouse? Why does he steal?

Goals and motivation are important for all main characters in the novel, especially the antagonist and protagonist. The victim may also have significant backstory to help explain the crime.

While the protagonist’s goal in suspense is usually to punish the criminal, stop the villain from following through on dire threats, or squelch a dangerous situation. His backstory will reveal if he is only doing his job or if he has a greater motivation that causes him to strive for success. Has the incident affect his life or a loved ones? Does he feel threatened? Is it a moral or spiritual issue? Does the crime go against a deep value? The motivation of the goal can be a complex blend of reasons.

A villain needs to be believable, and the author does that by providing him with at least one redeeming quality and reasonable motivation, even if it is skewed or wrong. The most despicable person may love his dog or is kind to his parents, but he will strive to harm someone who has disgraced his family’s name.

Suspense has many sub-genres that affects the types of goals and motivations of he characters. Use a search engine to review the specifics for each genre. As an example of differences, I will review psychological suspense and romantic suspense.

Psychological Suspense
Psychological suspense involves moral danger, and usually two plots run through the story for the protagonist. The first plot is stopping the crime or catching the criminal. The second plot line is a personal weakness, dilemma or conflict in the life of the protagonist—sick child, failing marriage, money problems, or an variety of issues.

The villain also needs motivation that makes sense. Often it is revenge or power, and usually a goal or motivation warped by a twisted worldview.

Romantic Suspense
A popular form of suspense involves romance. The focus is on both the hero and heroine, usually one is in trouble and the other is trying to solve the problem. The story often leads to suspicion placed on one or the other and the character begins to view the person as a threat.

In romantic suspense, the antagonist can be a sexual predator, a character with an obsession or a person out for revenge against the individual or her family.

When dealing with goals and motivation, remember:
• Goals are unique for each character.
• Motivation comes from backstory and/or the result of a recent action.
• Both protagonist and antagonist have strengths and weaknesses that affect goals & motivation.
• Ask yourself I the action is realistic. Would you react this way under the same circumstances?
• Readers want excitement and reality.

About Me

My Photo
Multi-award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian fiction for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. She has forty-seven contracted novels with over three million books in print. Gail is the author of Writers Digiest’s Writing the Christian Romance. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations  and presents workshops at conference across the US. Gail live in the Detroit area.

Writing the Christian RomanceGroom in Training (Love Inspired)Dad in Training (Thorndike Press Large Print Christian Fiction)Bride in Training (Love Inspired)In His Dreams (Michigan Island, Book 3) (Love Inspired #407)Loving Treasures (Loving Series #1) (Love Inspired #177)Loving Hearts (Loving Series #2) (Love Inspired #199)In His Eyes (Michigan Island, Book 1) (Love Inspired #361)Family in His Heart (Michigan Island, Book 4) (Love Inspired #427)Loving Care (Loving Series #4) (Love Inspired #239)Through The Eyes Of A ChildLoving Ways (Loving Series #3) (Love Inspired #231)The Christmas Kite (Steeple Hill Women's Fiction #2)Loving Feelings (Loving Series #6) (Love Inspired #303)And Baby Makes Five (Monterey Peninsula Series #1) (Heartsong Presents #770) 

A Dad Of His Own - Coming March 2011
Dad In Training, Groom in Training, Bride in Training - Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Monterey Memories - Barbour Publishing
Writing The Christian Romance - Writers Digest 

No comments:

email if you would like to be a blogger here. email to list books in our amazon store