Passionate Characters

We all know that writers are generally a passionate bunch about something – a book they just read, the integrity of their work, literacy…you get the idea. 

But what about your characters?  Are they passionate about something? 

My MC in my WIP is many things – she is resentful, annoyed, pissed off and deceitful.  But after some discussion with the other lovely ladies of this blog, I realized she was missing a passion at something.  She hasn’t really had a motivating factor to get somewhere, she just wants to not be where she is.

Some of the minor characters had the same problem.

So what’s the difference between progressing and being passionate?  Look at real life.  As you may have noticed, all of this blog’s contributors are educators in some capacity.  We see students all the time who come to class and do the work to get the grade.  Then, there are the students who dive into the subject matter, find how it relates in other aspects of their life outside the classroom.  These students have a fire in their eyes toward what is being taught and are enthusiastic in their pursuit of knowledge.

Now apply that to some characters we love. 

Harry Potter is excited to go to Hogwart’s, but school, studying and learning become a passion for him when he realizes what is at stake – the only family he’s ever known.

Indiana Jones is interested in finding the grail, but becomes motivated and passionate about it when he has to find it to save lives.

Jo March enjoys writing a story each night, but becomes passionate about it the more she realizes her need to figure out who and what she is.

I’m sure you can think of other characters, who just go through the motions of their plot until there is a reason to become passionate.  And that is the point when they become endearing, hated, loved, despised, etc.

How have you made your characters passionate?  What are some tricks you have learned when discovering a character may be flat/unmotivated?

12 thoughts on “Passionate Characters

  1. I just finished my first novel, so I don't have loads of experience to go by. My book began with a passionate character and the plot evolved, so I sort of have the exact opposite issue. I completely agree with you, however and your examples are helpful and on point.

    Hope your new year is off to a great start and 2012 is your best year ever. I am hoping it will be for me.

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  2. I'm not sure how to discover what makes my characters passionate except to write character files, and write the story . . . I discovered in a mad dash of writing that my sword-wielding protaganist in The Crystal Sword has a soft spot for kids. I didn't expect that, but I've been using it.

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  3. I've learned, over the years, that good characters have to have reason to go on the journey. Something that touches their emotions. If I, the writer, can't feel the character's emotions, how can my readers?

    I'm not one that likes to *torture* my characters, but I realized that I have to put them in situations that they fear or hate, because it helps them face their inner conflicts and act on them. The external conflicts help with that.

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  4. Very good point. My characters seem to just create themselves, I like to think they are passionate about something but I have never really analyzed them in that way, at least not yet. Nice to meet you 🙂

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  5. I wasn't too sure what I was doing when I began writing my first novel so it took me almost 3 years to develop my characters. And, believe it or not I liked some of my supporting ones better than the main character which resulted in a novella (not out yet).
    I found it easier to write when the character was already developed. He led the story – in fact he hijacked the story to the point where he added adult content where I didn't want any. But it was the right thing to do, because the story after all became “his”.
    The novel I'm currently working on seemed to get unique characters as well. They all have a specific attitude, little quirks and different passions. I'm not sure where those stemmed from, but they're not all equal or likable, which I guess it's a good thing.
    Great post!

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  6. My characters are more than just an individual on a blank page, they're a live person, a real human being, and with that comes passion. It took me awhile to learn it for my secondary characters. People were constantly telling me they were cardboard cut-outs. I never realize I had only spent time molding my main character I'd forgotten about them!

    Now I've given them all crazy awesome personalities and with that the passion comes!

    Writing is so much fun isn't it? Love this blog! First time stopping in and look forward to making a habit of it!

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  7. Hi Tasha – new follower here! I love creating characters – especially for longer pieces – and I really miss them when I've finished with them. Sometimes it's only the characters that stop me from discarding a piece of writing – they cry out to me for resolution! Great blog – and thanks again for following mine 🙂

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  8. I think this can be a bit like a psychotherapy session with our characters. I hardly know my own motivation in MY life! How am I supposed to know what my character wants, too?! But, it is necessary to sit down with her, so to speak and have a chat (So, how does that make you feel?), so I know what she needs, even if she hasn't figured it out yet.

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  9. Great thoughts. I think I need to revisit this issue on my own WIP.

    If anybody is looking for a real-life passionate character on which to base their own MC, I'd suggest Tasha herself. 🙂

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