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Old 05-03-2012, 11:06 PM   #26
heyjude
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:20 AM   #27
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Hi Gang,

I've been away for awhile, but am back! Even have a spiffy new laptop for writing (sharing with hubby) and for traveling so I can still work. Ok sidetracked here ...

My MC in my mystery novel is one of 4 cops in a homicide division. Akin to Beckett in the TV show Castle (she's the main cop out of the group).

Yes, he's solving this homicide because that is his job, but he's also extra motivated because of how the women victims (both living and dead) are being treated ... something similar to what happened to his baby sister (who is still alive and well). He, his sister and his parents are all a close-knit family. So, what happened to his sister is still raw to him, even though it's been several years. These crimes hit a bit close to home for him. His sister's attacker was never found. So, he's kind of substituting one justice for another.

I know what I'm trying to say, but took some pain meds a bit ago and am way over tired. LOL. Just nod your head like you understand and I'll be happy. hehehehe =)

For detectives, PIs, etc ... motivations typically are: a) they are always looking to be challenged (think Sherlock Holmes); b) they solve murders as a substitute to something in their past (think Harry Bosch and my MC); c) they know who the victim was (many cozies come to mind ... they are living in the community, visiting the group of friends the victim was associated with, etc).

Just my quick take on it ...
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Old 05-05-2012, 02:49 PM   #28
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Good to see you, BE! And that's a great motive.
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:35 AM   #29
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I think a good way to solidify the crazy part is to give an insight into what made that person crazy - then you get to motive. For instance, I wrote a book about a serial killer of drag queens...and he was killing them because daddy was abusive and liked to wear mommies undies... so that got down to the why of it.
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:26 PM   #30
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> a) they are always looking to be challenged
> (think Sherlock Holmes);

Sherlock Holmes is probably the perfect case here. IIRC, he ran out of money before he could finish university. His application to Scotland Yard was turned as he lacked the credentials. So Holmes takes amusement in solving Scotland Yard cases, the very organization which doesn't recognize his abilities because simply he doesn't have a diploma, and yet comes to him when they run out of options.

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Old 05-14-2012, 04:52 PM   #31
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Motivation can be a deceptive trail to follow.

My murderer (not the MC) is a failed magician deeply envious of a woman who can do magic better. He can't work out how she does what she does. In the course of a dinner party of gathered amateur magician, he suddenly realises he could kill his rival and get away with it because he has accidentally discovered a vulnerability that nobody else knows about. The envy alone would not have been enough to push him into actually committing a crime but when the unforeseen and serendipitous opportunity presents itself, he acts on his gambling instinct and does it because he is certain he can get away with it.
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:39 AM   #32
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It's okay to know the hero's motivation, because I'll accept that it's his/her work, hobby, fascination, whatever. But I definitely want to know the murderer's motivation. I try to avoid books where murder is the murderer's hobby.
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:14 AM   #33
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If you're struggling with motivation, and you want to go the "He's just crazy" route, you might be able to solve the problem by showing why he's crazy. If he was born crazy, in a 'Michael Meyers/Halloween' sort of way, then show the first time that craziness came out. Remember, Michael Meyers butchered his sister at the beginning of the film, and that was enough. You have to establish his personality in some way, or else the character will feel thin and unsatisfying.

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Special Agent Pendergrast just jumps in and starts solving things (why? Because his family is crazy!) Jack Reacher? We know he doesn't like bullies, bureaucracy and BS, but why? Is there any motivation in a Vince Flynn novel? Nope, Mitch Rapp is just a Dudley DoRight who's out to preserve the American way. End of story. Lucas Davenport is a police officer. He solves crimes, because that's what he does. Harry Bosch is one of the world's greatest characters, but why is he such a tough, never give up bad ass? Sure, after innumerable novels we get some motivation lightly sprinkled over the top, but the stories wouldn't be any worse if this wasn't included.
When you're dealing with series characters like Reacher, their motivation doesn't matter all that much because they are reflection characters. Reacher's job, besides kicking ass and nailing the girls, is to act as a window through which the reader absorbs the story and views the other characters. You might not know what drives Reacher to sneak into the the mob bosses mansion, but it doesn't matter because the story isn't about Reacher. The story is about the little girl the mob boss is holding captive, and her worried mother sitting at home. You learn (through reacher) what motivates the other characters in the story, and they're who the story is really about. Reacher discovers that the mob boss became a psychopath after his only son was gunned down by a rival mob, and when he discovers that motivation, so do you.

The old detective novels did this all the time. Ross Macdonald, who IMO is the best detective novelist who ever lived, never said more than a few words about his detective, Lew Archer. But when he did, it spoke volumes. The one instance that sticks out to me was when a character told Archer that she'd heard about him. He asked what she'd heard, and her response was, "I've heard you're a very lonely man."

That was it.

But through Archer, readers were introduced to such a wide range of characters, all completely round and bursting with personality and motivation, that readers devoured the books. They were what the books were about. Archer (like Reacher and Bosch, etc) are just tour guides.
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Old 05-16-2012, 02:31 AM   #34
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But when he did, it spoke volumes. The one instance that sticks out to me was when a character told Archer that she'd heard about him. He asked what she'd heard, and her response was, "I've heard you're a very lonely man."
This is awesome.

My problem with motive is that sometimes people don't know what drives them; there's not an immediate, discernible factor. Sometimes we do things because we're idiots, or self-destructive. I guess that's not really enough of an explanation for real life or fiction, though.
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Old 05-16-2012, 02:45 AM   #35
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Motive? I'm menopausal, I don't need no stinkin' motive!

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Old 05-16-2012, 04:54 AM   #36
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> You might not know what drives Reacher to sneak into
> the the mob bosses mansion

That information is usually spelled out before the first fist is thrown. What propels Reacher into the story is his inclination to fix the wrongs; what keeps him in the story is his sense of military pride to 'finish the job'.

As a reader, I don't need to have the full psychological profile and biography to believe into his rationale to do the things he does. The above is sufficient. It is believable enough.


And that's what motivation supports: a) it propel the MC into the story, and b) keeps him/her locked in it.


> , but it doesn't matter because
> the story isn't about Reacher.

It IS about Reacher. What makes Reacher interesting is how he mixes his investigative genius with brute force, many times with surprising results.


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Old 05-16-2012, 07:16 AM   #37
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My problem with motive is that sometimes people don't know what drives them; there's not an immediate, discernible factor. Sometimes we do things because we're idiots, or self-destructive. I guess that's not really enough of an explanation for real life or fiction, though.
Right, fiction has to make sense. Real life doesn't.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:16 AM   #38
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This is awesome.

My problem with motive is that sometimes people don't know what drives them; there's not an immediate, discernible factor. Sometimes we do things because we're idiots, or self-destructive. I guess that's not really enough of an explanation for real life or fiction, though.
I've had problems with this before. Sometimes you can base something on someone or a situation you actually know and it's still deemed unrealistic by readers. Kind of strange, isn't it?
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:55 PM   #39
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Quote:
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We've talked about this before in terms of cozies, but never MTS at large, that I know of.
I recently had a painful rejection that said I just don't understand why (character name) would (do what he did). And I thought, well, because he's crazy.
Maybe the rejector should read the papers more. What one guy will brush off with no more thought, another will spend the next year simmering over. I should know. Um, no, nothing.
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Old 05-24-2012, 06:39 PM   #40
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Maybe an explanation for what drove him or her crazy would help? Like being in 'nam or Desert Storm or Afghanistan. So many wars to choose from (Don't know if I need to put a smiley or a sad face)

I've been going for the simple motivations - greed, jealousy etc for the killer and a love of mystery novels and detective work for the MC.
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