How Can I make The Main Protagonist's Motives SOLID???

by John
(Woods Cross, UT)

Question: Ok, so far in my story, the main protagonist begins a quest to find his lost brother, when he learns that his brother is in fact, dead, he learns of a powerful item that could potentially revive his brother... so he goes on a quest to find it... It turns out, that this powerful item is the only thing that can ultimately save the entire world, and by going on this adventure, he is unknowingly fulfilling a prophecy about a great hero who will find said item...

Ok, and now I am stuck... Should I actually say that he is trying to find the item for revenge for his brother's death, rather than to revive him? because I don't want to get all necromaniactic with this story... the only reason I was thinking about making so the item can revive his brother was to give the main character a motive for finding the Item besides the typical old "chosen one who is destined to retrieve the power and slay the evil"...

Should I make so his brother is absolutely dead for good, and he goes out for revenge? Or maybe he has hope that his brother can be revived, but deep down knows he can't? So what I am basically asking is: What motive would keep the story the most solid?

The end result is: Main character gets Item... I am just having problems with WHY he wants to get it...

Thanks Glen

Answer: Whether the Story Goal is to obtain the magic item or to avenge the brother's death, I think what you have to establish is what the Consequence will be if the mission fails. What will happen in the story world if the item is never obtained or if the brother's killer is allowed to get away with the killing? Presumably there will be a worse disaster that will befall if the hero fails.

You are free to choose when the hero will learn about the looming Consequence (as long as it appears somewhere in the story), but you should decide in your own mind what it is.

Once you know the Consequence, there should be certain Forewarnings that arise at various points in the plot. Forewarnings are signs that the Consequence is approaching. As the main character encounters these, it becomes increasingly clear what is at stake and that the Goal is vital to achieve.

See this article where I discuss the Goal, Consequence, Forewarnings, and the rest of the 8 basic plot elements described in dramatica theory...

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