• NaPoWriMo Interview: Georg on Motivation

    This month is speeding by! But maybe it's not for you. Maybe you're struggling to find the motivation, or your characters seem to be.

    Well, we've got popular fandom author Georg here to tell you all about what motivates him and how he figures out what motivates his characters! 

    MARVEL: Glad to chat with you, Georg! How do you know or decide on a character's motivation? For that matter, how do you demonstrate it?

    GEORG: To be honest, I derive the character’s motivation from the story that I want to write, or to be simple, their goals have to line up with my goals. When I have an emotional scene in mind, I figure out which characters to insert into the scene to make it go in the way I want. If I can get away with main characters with established motivations which will make the scene flow well, I will. If not, I'll create one out of whole cloth (once literally) and use him/her. Only then will I determine what is behind the driving force propelling the character into the situation in the most romantic/funny/embarrassing way.

    For example, in Drifting Down the Lazy River, I knew the path I wanted my character to take, and the immensely contrasting scenes they each had:

    • First, stranded on the interesting river trying to get to Destination
    • Then, at the Riverboat for a certain number of scenes
    • Then, to the Downstream City which was his primary motivation, only to find out it was *not* what he expected
    • Then back to the Riverboat for more scenes
    • Then Canterlot for more scenes to show that it also was *not* where he wanted to go either
    • Then back to the Riverboat for more scenes until he realizes this is where he really needed to be in the first place.

    Everything I write, I use to practice and improve my skills in a particular field. In this story, I wanted to practice my detailed descriptions.  So, I determined the character should be a painter who sees everything in terms of how it really looks, and an earth pony to make the task more difficult than just "Magic-done!"  

    To reduce the character count and thus story complexity, I made him an orphan so he would not have ties back to his parents (but not Batman, because only Batman is Batman).  I wanted him to pair up with Ripple, so I made him a colt about the same age plus a little, which left me with the ability to use Child Logic for their interactions with each other and the strange world of Adults.  Speaking of adults, I wanted to have him interact with Celestia and Luna, so that placed the story in modern times.

    So, I figured out Where I wanted the POV character to go, Who he was supposed to meet, How he was supposed to interact with the scenes and characters, which left… Why, or Motivation.

    Now turn that motivation up to about 11, and you have a young earth pony colt who wants to be a painter so bad that he steals a raft so he can float down the big river to Baltimore, meet other painters who work there, and become the famous painter he knows he can be.  And from there, the reader will follow him along his trail, driven by his Motivation from beginning to end as his character grows with each interaction and new motivations emerge.

    Did that make sense?

    MARVEL: I think so! It's definitely an interesting approach. In that example, your goals influenced the character's motivations, so does what drives you (and your writing) tend to match up with what drives your characters?

    GEORG: Hm. No. What drives me personally tends not to drive my characters, or I’d write more about introverted older nerds who hide behind computer keyboards instead of engaging in useful social interaction.  And nobody would read it.

    I think you will find that dreams influence nearly every MLP author’s writing.  They see a vision of a place where they would like to be, but can only imagine in their mind.  Bringing other readers into your mind is a personal thing, particularly for introverts.  Thankfully, the internet allows us to share our visions without getting messy footprints through our houses.  And it allows introverts like myself the option to keep a certain amount of distance from the readers. 

    MARVEL: That makes sense. So, what makes those dreams powerful enough that you want to write entire stories about them? 

    GEORG: Ego.  Wait a minute, I’m supposed to sound modest.  To be honest, ego is a big part of it.  If we had no audience to perform for, no positive feedback from the readers, we writers would probably playing video games and keeping our dreams inside.  Our modern electronic age has made the process of sharing (and being distracted) far easier.  

    Without Knightly and FimFiction, thousands of young and not-so-young authors would have never have had the opportunity to show us what they were thinking, revealing their worlds beyond the cartoon and into the fertile imaginations of fellow speculative equine fiction appreciaters. Without Equestria Daily, the artists and music lovers would have a much smaller audience for their works posted to the electronic fridge so we call can marvel.  

    The threshold of sharing is lower now than any other time in our history, and the immense pouring of creativity across it can boggle the mind.  Audience participation feeds that flood, allows us to become better creators, 

    As to my motivation?  I always have to be doing something to keep my mind sharp.  At the turn of the century, I collected MP3s. Then I played World of Warcraft. Now I write speculative equine literature.  In all probability, I won’t be writing pony until retirement, but I am now, and intend on it for the near future.  It gives me a way to keep on my toes far more than video games.  

    I’ve written about Greek gods and prankster princesses, Bolo combat units and young fillies discovering their first kiss, the joy of childbirth and saving Hearth’s Warming and drifting down a lazy river and hiding in the dangerous forest and ponies at war.  Who knows what I’ll write tomorrow?  Not even me.

    MARVEL: A new adventure awaits! I can't wait to read it.

    Georg has a unique approach to motivation and character motivation that I wanted to spotlight. Finding what drives your characters isn't always an easy, straightforward process, and as Georg described, sometimes you have to work off of what you know about them already and make connections from there.

    And you'll notice in his answers on his own motivation, he sees writing as a hobby (and involved hobby, but a hobby). I think whether you want to take your writing professional or not, not taking it too seriously can be a huge help to motivation.

    Serious ponk would not make for a creative writer.
    This should be your playground! Your expression, your wild and crazy adventure filled with all the twists and turns you want to see. Go. Nuts. 

    In time you'll polish it up and make it shine nice and pretty (and readable), but in NaPo, in the first draft, you climb those metaphorical monkey bars any way you want. You run this jungle gym.

    Take the pressure off, find things that inspire you, and go to town.