Write what you know. Write what you feel. Write who you know. Know yourself. You write from yourself, from within you. Write from what you feel, what you’ve felt, from what you’ve felt about others. Write what you feel about others and what you know others feel about you. What you feel is true to you, but – it’s not necessarily true. You feel as you do and others feel as they may. Sometimes your collective truths coincide, they cross paths, like flocking birds of different feathers, crisscrossing as they head in different directions from the same place. Write from the inside-out. Turn out your mental pockets, find the emotional lint hidden in the creases.
Motivation is important but instinct is more revealing without saying more. The Character’s knee-jerk reaction to an event, person or word will show who they are – what they do and say display who they really are. Motivation suggests an objective, a coherent thought. True Characters roll off emotion, reaction, habit and experiences, just as we do. We rarely argue, truly argue with that surging irritation building to a boiling peak, rarely with a final result in mind. We argue emotionally, we fight about how we feel, how the other has made us feel (deliberately or not). And our anger is angelic, infallible in its justification. We are all always in the complete right. A Character should have that selfish righteousness about something critical to them, an unreasonable assumption of their automatic win of any related discussion. Motivation is objective, instinct is emotional, emotion is selfish. Everyone is selfish. Everyone says they’re easy-going, cucumber cool and don’t get riled easily – until it’s something important to them, something with that emotional hook in under their mind. Then easy-going goes out the window and it’s all hands on deck for this one, this precious position which we must win or face a diminution of self, ego, of the id.
A Character without those selfish zones, those critical areas which brook no dissent or weakening, who won’t defend their core against any assault, is not a full person, merely a character, not a Character. A background performer, not Principal Cast. They cannot carry a scene or plot arc to completion. But give them a precious cargo, a delicate vital idea of self, and they will defend it with an unreasonable super-violence. Realistically, honestly, intuitively and instinctively. All else will follow.