Do you have any advice for knowing what is going to happen in your story but not having any idea what the motivation is? For example, a writer knows they want their king to order all witches be burned at the stake, and that said author knows that the king has some sort of motivation behind it, but the author hasn’t quite figured out what the king’s reason is for hating witches? How does one overcome such a block? Sorry if I was too verbose or unclear :)

Okay,
so, I’m answering this as part of my initiative to actually answer the
hundred-million asks I have in my inbox. And no, your questions made perfect sense! 🙂

This is certainly far
past when you would have figured it out on your own, but I’m going to answer it
anyway in case someone else is having the same problem.

I
think it helps to step back from motivation and focus instead on backstory. If
you could come up with a backstory for the king, then you might come across a
situation where he would come to distrust witches.

Perhaps
think of what he was like as a prince. Maybe he was arrogant and made a bet
with a witch—and lost. Then the witch took her prize, and the prince decided
she was evil, so now he thinks all witches are scammers.

Or a
witch killed a beloved family member or friend. What if his mother was a witch,
and he blamed a coven for taking her away?

So it’s
not about motivation—it’s about who the king is as a character and what he’s
experienced to make him that way.

It’s
generally a bit simplistic to go “Okay, so the king doesn’t like witches. Ummm,
sure, it’s because he thinks witches are ugly.” And that can be fine, but what’s
the root of it? Not liking witches because he thinks they’re ugly is fairly
2-dimensional, because there are too many factors that could bring into
question what exactly “ugly” means.

So
instead of starting in the middle and building around it, start from the
beginning and let it develop naturally. In the case of the king, for example,
maybe his dislike of witches starts off simple, but more and more things happen
to him that put witches in an unfavorable light. So if he vaguely dislikes them
at age 10, he could easily despise their existence by age 25. It depends on how
commonplace witches are and if he would have had opportunities to interact with
them.

Focus
on the core of the character and leave the surface-level “motivations” for cop
shows. (That’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, for those of you that like cop shows.)


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