Friday, April 30, 2010

A Motivation Problem

(May 24, 2009)

No, it's not my motivation that's the problem this time...I'm trying to understand what would make one of my characters act the way he does, and I would welcome any help.

This is from my second book, in which the protagonist was illegally squatting on Indian land and was evicted by the U.S. Army. He's currently living in a town on the side of the river the government gave to whites. The standard of living he and his family are experiencing is considerably higher than the one he had on his illegal farm. Yet he's pining for that piece of land.

What would make someone be so fixated on something like the land? I'm having some trouble understanding the character because I am much more practical than that, living by a sort of "get over it" mantra. Some of the possible motivations I've offered to myself include 1) he likes the landscape better than that south of the river (but it's not THAT different!), or 2) it reminds him of home (but again, it's not THAT different). So why can't he just get over it and say, "It's not that different, I'll just find a spot south of the river?" It's important to the plot of my story that he be fixated on living north of the river, because that's where the main conflict comes in. White people coveted this land the government had given to the Cherokees, and they put pressure on the politicians to move the Cherokees out--something that didn't take a tremendous amount of pressure, I might add.

Anyone have any thoughts? I greatly appreciate any help!

1 comment:

Augustina Peach said...

fj-warren said...
Sorry - back again. I've just read this post and feel that I might be able to help having been placed in a similar situation in former years. Find, or remember, a piece of prose or poetry where Lover A yearns for Lover B with every fibre of his/her being. The very essence of that desire is that nothing else can equal the thing you cannot obtain or can no longer have. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can get close to the soul-stripping feeling you get when you lose the piece of land that you fell in love with and had to give up.