I recently attended my office Christmas party. It was a festive occasion with delicious food, friends and a fabulous entertainer! She sang a song called “The Twelve Days After Christmas” which had us all rolling in laughter.
If you’re not familiar with the song, I’ll paraphrase: Sister-friend is straight fed. UP. with the flock of odd creatures her “true love” sent to her for Christmas. She proceeds to shoot the partridge, chop down the pear tree, make soup out of the hens, drown the geese and ship all those maids, dancing ladies, pipers, lords and drummers back to where they came from.
Well, she kept one drummer. 😉
It was fun to consider what happened to the poor person stuck with all the clean-up after that many animals and uninvited guests. I never really had thought about it until that party. Which led me to question: What in the world was that guy thinking? (And let’s just face it, it was a guy sending all these things to his true love. A woman would have sent more practical gifts.)
Who would sit around and think, “She’s my true love. I’ll show her by sending her a menagerie of squawking, molting, pooping birds and fifty extra mouths to feed! She’ll love it!”
Yeah. Shoulda put a ring on it instead.
When I started thinking about the motivation for this guy, it led me to think about the motivations of our characters as we write. Sometimes I get caught up in the plot of the story, and forget to think about what is driving the events. To write a cohesive story, the characters need to behave and react in consistent ways. That’s not to say you don’t write characters that grow and change. That’s important too.
Looking at motivations and backstory of the characters we write, even if these things don’t make it to the page, helps to write consistent characters. Why does the character feel a certain way? What caused them to be callous, or ambitious, or romantic? What are they thinking when they say and do the things they say and do?
Recently I have been having an issue with the love interest in my current WIP. I like him. He’s fun to write, but he was feeling a little flat to me. I went back and really thought about where he came from, what he had done to get himself in the place he is, and why he’s drawn to the MC. I didn’t really have good answers for all of those questions, so I set out to discover them. When I had those things lined out, he became more “real” to me and I was able to write him as more than just one dimensional.
I know one thing for sure. He would never send his true love a partridge or a pear tree.