Monday, November 17, 2014

The Story Gardener and Character Motives

I have gotten in a groove with writing. And it's like a supple garden box that is taking in all the elements needed to yield intriguing produce!

Praise the Lord!

As I grow my characters from the deep soil of their back story, amidst the elements of their present climate, and toward the sunshine of their future (um...well, my story is a little less sunshiny in the happy dance kind of way), I have discovered how to nurture each person with the right balance of give them the best chance to contribute to the

Yeah, I love analogy!

The Soil: Or the back story. There must be something in the character's past to motivate them to either move forward, or pull back...usually it is all wrapped up in the seed of the lie, sprouting it's ugly roots and hindering the character like an overgrown weed. But it can also be the values, morals, personality of the character know, all those nutrients that
that contribute to the wellness, or lack thereof, the plant!

The Potential/Sunshine-y future?  You know when you first plant that baby tomato plant, and you dream of plump red fruit hanging from its delicate stems? Well, same with your character, there has to be a dream or potential to drive their motives...and you must remember this throughout the story because it will keep you, the author, and your character going toward the goal...reaching for the sunshine...growing!

The Present Climate: Once the story is going, you'll start nurturing and weeding the character to escape the lie and grow toward the abundance of harvest. Now, storms may come, and you must remember that with each storm, their is a shift in the motive--not the overall motive--but a new motive to survive that present climate. These become little sprigs of new growth that hint of the underlying potential (or dream), and keep the reader asking the question, "what happen's next?" Every time you write, you should remember, what's the immediate motive my character?

Once those motives overcome the present climate, and the character pushes toward its potential, you'll have a mouth-watering story that has your reader pulling up to the table ready to harvest the produce. You as the author might feel more like a juggler than a story gardner at times, but if you remember to give your character plenty of sunshine, those motives will shine through and tempt the reader forward!


Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written five Historical Romance novels, has a Historical underway, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets, selling Jamberry Nail Wraps, and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check out her author page at and her personal blog at 


Robin E. Mason said...

LOVE this!!! I "develop" my characters by getting to know them - but I love gardening too so perfect way to think of it for me!! =D

Angie Dicken said...

Yes! Knowing your characters and how they will react is such a great thing! Thanks for stopping by today, Robin!

Susan Anne Mason said...

What a great analogy, Angie! I especially love the idea of the character 'bud' growing and pushing toward the light, only to be choked back by weeds!
Will have to remember this as I write today!


Angela said...

Thanks for this great post. I had just sat down to work on my WIP as part of NaNoWriMo when I read this post...very helpful.

Angie Dicken said...

Susan, I feel like growing characters is one of the trickiest parts of writing, but once you start getting the hang of is the best part! :)

Angie Dicken said...

Oh, Angela! I am so glad it helped! Hope you made some progress. I seem to only get a scene out at a time...but that's's a patient craft! HA!