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Character Motivation Thesaurus: To Rescue a Loved One

Saturday, October 1, 2016 3:23
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What does your character want? This is an important question to answer because it determines what your protagonist hopes to achieve by the story’s end. If the goal, or outer motivation, is written well, readers will identify fairly quickly what the overall story goal’s going to be and they’ll know what to root for. But how do you know what outer motivation to choose?

abuseIf you read enough books, you’ll see the same goals being used for different characters in new scenarios. Through this thesaurus, we’d like to explore these common outer motivations so you can see your options and what those goals might look like on a deeper level.

Character’s Goal (Outer Motivation): To Rescue a Loved One From A Captor

Forms This Might Take:

  • A kidnapping
  • A cult
  • An abusive relationship
  • A prisoner of war
  • Forced slavery
  • Human trafficking
  • A hostage situation

Human Need Driving the Goal (Inner Motivation): Safety and Security

Methods for Achieving This Goal:

  • Plan an assault on captors in a kill-or-capture scenario
  • Enlist the help of professionals (police, a hired mercenary, criminals, etc.)
  • Plan an extraction (break and enter, grab and go)
  • Infiltrate the group and both escape unnoticed
  • A pay off (buying the loved one’s safety)
  • Obtain something important to the captor and force a trade (blackmail)

How the Character May Prepare for This Goal

  • research the enemy to determine threat level and weaknesses
  • travel to the area one’s loved one is being held
  • arrange a meeting with law enforcement
  • hire professionals if needed
  • a reconnaissance of the location
  • obtain blueprints or fist hand knowledge of the site
  • track the captor’s movements and habits
  • invest in weapons and gear if needed
  • obtain funds needed to pay a ransom
  • buy information and access to the site (if possible)
  • create plans for subterfuge to gain access and an escape
  • obtain something to use for ransom (if applies)

Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal

  • going deep into debt or bankrupt
  • being captured and tortured
  • getting others who are helping with the rescue killed
  • giving up control to someone else (police, someone in charge) who may or may not know what they are doing
  • keeping control and one’s decision leads t a costly mistake (such as an innocent being killed)
  • being injured or killed
  • making a mistake that leads to the loved one being injured or killed

Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved

  • well armed captors
  • a turncoat on one’s team
  • being unable to raise funds for the ransom
  • having one’s loved one be moved somewhere beyond reach
  • being unable to secure the help one needs
  • inept officials in charge that screw things up
  • officials who have been bribed by captors
  • a system that doesn’t care or won’t help
  • being unable to act because of fear
  • being unable to obtain something suitable for blackmailing

Talents & Skills That Will Help the Character Achieve This Goal:

Possible Fallout if the Need Driving This Goal Is Not Met:

  • self-blame and depression
  • one’s life falling apart
  • relationships dissolving if one is blamed for the result (a marriage break up over the loss of a child, for example)
  • rejection by one’s family, leading to deeper loneliness
  • a thirst for revenge that will lead one down a dark path
  • possible suicide attempts if one is unable to forgive oneself for a perceived failing

Clichés to Avoid: 

  • hiring a badass mercenary who is only in it for the money but comes to care for the main character and so goes above and beyond to save the victim
  • discovering the person needing to be rescued has orchestrated the whole thing our of hatred for the main character

Click here for a list of our current entries for this thesaurus, along with a master post containing information on the individual fields.

image: unsplash @ pixabay




The post Character Motivation Thesaurus: To Rescue a Loved One appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®.

The Bookshelf Muse is a hub for writers, educators and anyone with a love for the written word. Featuring Thesaurus Collections that encourage stronger descriptive skills, this award-winning blog will help writers hone their craft and take their writing to the next level.


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