Thursday, April 17, 2008

Motivation! It's the key to everything!

I'm taking a detour from the Indie list to bring you an announcement from my frustrated mind. Ready? Here it is.

A talented cast, sprinkled with eye candy, does not make up for a plot's lack of motivation.

Motivation is THE key to what characters think, do, fear. It's the reason they are who they are, and why they want what they want. Does anyone else think it goes without saying, you must research and find out what your character motivations are???

Goals - what characters want. Motivations - why do they want them, what makes them tick. Conflict - what is going to get in the way of them achieving this?

The big 3: Goals, Motivation, Conflict. (Also the title of Deb Dixon's useful book.)

I just went on IMDB. The #2 movie in the USA this past weekend was "Street Kings." The #7 movie was "Smart People." Ahem. In the midst of writer's block, a lack of other movies playing, and two free movie passes, I went to see them.

First, Street Kings, aka Elaine's stupid choice.

It seems every book and movie I pick up or see lately has great potential, but they fall through. Why is this? This movie even had Forest Whitaker and Hugh Laurie. Talented individuals. And Hugh Laurie also fits into the eye candy category. (Along w/Chris Evans, but he couldn't save the movie either.)

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention at least one good thing. They DID share some motivations toward the end of the movie, but truthfully, it was too late. Motivations are what help us identify with and care about a character's journey. If we don't learn their motivations until close to the end, we can't care all the way through.

You can write a book or screenplay about pig farmers in outer space who love to go to the opera. (Okay, ridiculous example, but stick with me here...) But you must make their motivations REAL.

Second, Smart People.

This movie, despite the selfish angst by Dennis Quaid which is never really explained, had some snappy dialogue. Original stuff, rare in today's recycled world. But the motivation wasn't there. Or perhaps it's just because I expect a great deal when I pick up a book or see a movie.

Let's be honest, though. In today's world, a medical professional would demand the use of a condom before she sleeps with someone. Am I alone in this theory? I can understand someone not as knowledgeable, or a teenager too embarrassed to purchase them. But a medical professional??? That's cheating to forward a plot which isn't backed by real motivation.

Sometimes it's like walking a tightrope, because we also want our characters to have flaws so we can watch their transformation. But when a character does something so completely against who they are, it's unbelievable, it takes us out of the story, and in the end, it lessens the storyteller's credibility.

Motivation is key. And it helps characters become more real to the audience.

Soap box is getting plenty of attention. Guess I'll get off of it for now. Thx!

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