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Sunday, August 18

Sunday Writing Tip: Examine Your Protagonist’s Motivations

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, make sure your protagonist has strong, clear, and plausible motivations for acting in the novel.


A common early draft issue is a protagonist who has no real reason to do the thing they’re supposed to do in the story. They act out plot because the story needs then to do it, not because something real is driving them.

Examine the motives and reasons why your characters are acting in your novel. Make sure they have believable reason to want to solve the problems they face, both for the main core conflict, as well as the smaller conflicts they face on a scene by scene basis.

For more on character motivations in your novel, try these articles:

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