Character motivation definition
Characters are more than the labels they are so easily defined with.
As explained in the previous article introducing the Dramatica Archetypes, each character is defined by their function within the main story line. Protagonists pursue goals while Guardians aid the effort towards that goal. While these quick definitions make it easy to understand their purpose in a story, they fall short of actually providing an author with the means to use these characters in a story.
To find those tools within the archetypes, they first must be broken down into a finer resolution.
The Elements of Character
If you want to know what motivates your character, you must move beyond the labels of Protagonist and Antagonist and look at the elements that created that label in the first place. Looking this closely at a character, we can see that there are motivations that lead to action and motivations that lead to decision making. An archetype happens when just the right action element is matched up with just the right decision element. Put the two together in the same character and the labels we’ve grown so familiar with will “ring out” as if striking the right harmonic chord.
So a Protagonist is driven to Pursue a goal (their Action element) while at the same time possessing the motivation to Consider (their Decision element) the pros and cons of attempting that goal. The Antagonist is driven to Prevent that goal and to force the characters in the story to Reconsider whether or not they should take action in the first place. Match the right Action element with the right Decision element and you get an Archetypal Character. While there may indeed be some cultural significance to these characters (as witnessed by Jung/Campbell/Vogler), their real power lies in their objective reality.
At first glance, it may be difficult to decipher the difference between Consider and Reconsider. The former describes a character who weighs their options, makes a decision and moves on. The latter describes a character who has already made a decision, but now finds themselves debating whether they made the right decision or not. It’s difficult to make sense of at first, but once you see it at work, over time it will start to become apparent (I promise).
In addition, it’s important to note that these elements do not necessarily have to be “within” the character themselves, they can be attributed to or seen as properties of that character by others within the story. The Antagonist represents the motivation to Reconsider, whether they are driven to do it themselves or whether they motivate others to Reconsider. Regardless of how it is exposed within a story, all that matters is that they represent that part of the story’s larger argument.
Character Archetypes in Star Wars
You’ll find examples of each Archetype broken down by their motivation elements at the end of this article.
You can see how the murder of Luke’s aunt and uncle is really an attempt by the Empire to get the Rebels to Reconsider their rebellious efforts. It’s not so much that Mr. Tarkin is pacing back and forth deliberating whether or not he made the right choice as it is that he and his compatriots represent the motivation to Reconsider. Lucky for the galaxy, Luke decided to stick with his original Consideration.
But Archetypal Characters are boring, right? For the most part, I agree. Sure, maybe one or two within a story is OK, but all eight? Probably not a good idea nowadays (unless you’re purposely trying to create a throwback to 20th century fiction). The trick is to realize that you don’t have to match up the right Action element with the right Decision element. You can mix and match to your heart’s desire. In other words, you can let your creativity take over.
Woody Harrelson’s character in, Tallahassee, is a unique mix of elements from the Guardian Archetype and the Contagonist Archetype. As Guardian to Jesse Einsenberg and the girls, Tallahassee represents the drive to Help the group reach the amusement park. But it would be quite a stretch to say that he also represented the other Guardian element, Conscience, in the story. If anything, he is motivated by Temptation. You don’t have to look much further than his addiction to Hostess Sno Balls for proof of that. This is what makes his character so unique and interesting. The fact that he is motivated by conflicting elements creates an interestingness factor to him that Ben Kenobi can’t quite live up to.
You can even combine Archetypal Characters as they did in the original Toy Story. Woody is both the Protagonist and Reason character of the story. As Protagonist, he Pursues the goal of reuniting with Andy while also Considering the pros and cons of taking Buzz back with him. As Reason, he applies Logic (as in the opening sequence when all the other toys are freaking out during Andy’s birthday party) while at the same time maintaining Control over the group and the situation.
To Creativity and Beyond
This understanding of Character Archetypes is precisely what makes the Dramatica theory of story superior to all previous understandings of story. As opposed to the Campbell/Hero’s journey paradigm, the Dramatica Archetypes are seen as stepping stones towards more complex storytelling. While you can use them as is, their real power lies in their ability to easily communicate a real understanding of character motivation. In fact, once you understand the elements that make up an Archetypal Character, the only limit to character development is your own imagination.How long does it take to learn spanish? What does pay to the order of mean? How to keep kidneys healthy? What does determinate mean? What does the phrase? How long to cook prime rib at 350? What is the meaning of confine? How to change default google account? how much water should you use to replace milk in hamburger helper What is legacy media meaning? Tricks to help me remember why i walked into a room? What does 750 on jewelry mean? How to reset a nintendo switch? What does true breeding mean? What does mistrial mean? How to open rar files on mac? How to do the magic tricks? How to bowl tips? What time does galleria mall close? What is the meaning of 222 spiritually? When will pbs air new new tricks? Show where guy tricks people with illusions? how to use tablegateway inside view helper zf2 What does tornado warning mean? What does manana mean? What order should i learn skate tricks? How do i enter tips for daily sales? How to get rid of scabs on face? What is the meaning of verge? How to wire a three way switch? What is a caucus? How to be a restaurant floor manager tips and tricks? How to restore deleted text messages? What does retinol do for skin? What does bust mean in clothing? How to get rid of canker sores? What is the meaning of incubation period? How to remove a tonsil stone? How to copy and paste on a mac? What did joseph smith teach was the meaning of the word salvation? How to do tricks with csgo knives? What are traditions? How to install insulation? What does kmg mean? What is an lp? How to heal a sore throat? How to tame a llama in minecraft? How to wash my pillow? What does internal medicine mean? What does alice mean? What are some tips for a job interview? What is ddos meaning gaming? What does skal mean? What are signs of heart attack? How to make extra cash? What u upto meaning in hindi? What does var stand for? What does da mean? What is the meaning easter? How to do your own taxes? t helper cells help stimulate which of the follinw celks How to update lg tv? What are the chinese zodiac signs? What is the meaning of introspective? What is the meaning of balustrade? How to do tricks when shield surfong? How often tips certification? Mobile tricks what can you do with your phone? How to make lavender oil? What does pyt mean? What is the meaning of paramount? What is the meaning of crow? Lesbian sex tips when on your period? What time does the oakland a's play today? How to get rid of wasps with vinegar? What does grooming mean sexually? How long do you have to renew your driver's license after it expires? What does gatekeeping mean? What is the meaning of the seder meal? What were some of harry houdinis magic tricks? How to save pdf as jpeg? What is the meaning of flinched? What does shadowbanned mean? How much does it cost to climb mount everest? How to s? How to make a table of contents in word? how much does sand blaster helper earn in new york How to free up space on mac? What is a studio apartment? What does dull mean? What does a cicada look like? What does marxism mean? How to stop period cramps fast? The combining form muscul/o- has the same meaning as which combining form? How to get custom songs on beat saber? What i sthe icarly episodethat carly tricks nevel? What zodiac sign is january? How long does it take to get a green card? What does john mean? How to get food stamps? What is the spiritual meaning of seeing a spider? What does p mean gunna?