The more I’m here in this thing scribbling words the more I realize that motivation is a lazy man’s tool for creating and defining interesting characters. I mean, really in the end, in our life, what motivates us, and does the motivation define us? Are we really existing as some cardboard character propelled to define ourselves by what we want, or is there more to us than that? Do motivations even actually exist really exist?
It seems to me that most fictional motivation wouldn’t work in real life, and most motivations for things like murder & etc would be stuff in real life we think about ex-post-facto. I mean, really that’s all what we consider motivation is, isn’t it? It’s the way of defining our past, confining our narratives, it is something we meld and shape our memories with, were we plunge into the concepts and depths and meaning and why and why did we do that and what are we doing? When, in actuality I think most of our actions don’t have simple things like motivations propelling them forward- motivations make things too simple, too direct, too much like this like that and like this.
Motivations for characters feel like someone sat down in some workshop somewhere and everyone was asking why would they do that? why? and so motivations get planted in like a seed, frustrating in growth to spread leaves, but actually any more real than anything. They are all expostfacto things, and putting them into characters feel like some sort of lie, like I’ll insert this reason or cause for him doing X here, and then when he acts later BINGO it makes sense, it all makes sense.
But what about characters who struggle with what they’ve done and what they’re doing, who don’t make sense of it all, who don’t have motivations laid out clearly, and are trying to constantly struggle with what makes them them and not someone else? Characters that aren’t just a list of wants and needs and desires but instead creatures who struggle with the world inside of them and outside of them, who make sense but can’t make sense, who at every turn come to realize that their actions aren’t what makes them who they want to be, but instead the actions redefine them and somehow change them? What is want? What is need?
How do we define ourselves?
I think about Camus’s The Stranger or The Outsider or what have you, and how his motivation for murder is not a simple thing, not an easy thing. Not out of hatred, not compelled out of jealousy. The sun is hot. The air is hot. The moment is burning with intensity. Is it the moment itself that propels him to murder? The emptiness inside of him? No, his character resists easy motivations, and nothing is ever simply laid out. The character instead becomes complex, becomes more than wants and needs and actions, because deep down inside he really doesn’t have wants or needs or actions, he doesn’t see anything until he realizes he’s about to die, and then transcends who he was to become something else.
Or something like that. Still though, still, I did X because of Y is just too simple. Or, I want to do Y, or anything like that. People are propelled by external and internal complexities that break away with light.