Assigning Motivation Characteristics


I’m at the stage where I am assigning motivation characteristics to my objective characters. I did read a great article from Jim where he writes about tying the elements to the overall story, which makes a lot of sense.

For most of the motivation elements, its clear how they link to the overall goal. Consider the goal, oppose the goal, pursue the goal etc etc. However, there are four elements that I am unsure how to tie them to the overall goal - they are controlled, uncontrolled, logic and feeling.

Any advice on how to link these four to the overall goal would be greatly appreciated.


Wow, you’ve done a lot of work on this!

First, let me say it’s probably not necessary to nail down those Elements, especially for a first draft and when you’ve got everything in else in place – most likely they’ll show up naturally.

That said, there are potentially limitless ways you could explore them (I’m assuming this is the same story you were working on? )

For example, you could have a character who is always explaining why the hipsters’ approach always makes more sense than the stupid locals – everyone knows that macadamia milk is better, you can’t even argue it, it’s just logical. This person could do similar things in different contexts. Somehow this person is always coming into conflict with someone else who is always frustrated and depressed about the changes that are happening to the town. Etc.


One approach you can take is to see what archetypes they belong to (namely Reason and Emotion) and see how they pop up in movies you like.

Chewbacca (Emotion), for instance, isn’t exactly tied to the Story Goal, but since he’s with people who are, he’s naturally emotional during moments about the Story Goal.


Thanks again for your response Lakis – always willing to lend a hand. Yeah, as you say, I’m not desperate to get the elements down in a concrete way or even think about illustration at the moment. I guess I wanted to get more of an understanding of how this elements represent the story objectively. At this stage I just want to make sure of the characters I have need to be there and if there are any areas that I am missing.

Emotion & Reason are the two roles I struggle with most. I think it Is because they don’t seem like objective roles. When I think about the other roles, there is a clear understanding on how these roles affect the story objectively. I think Chewbacca is a great example. He seems to be a character that is driven by emotion – but that seems subjective to me. I read somewhere on here that the character in the skeptic role doesn’t actually have to be a sceptical person, just that they represent the skeptisim in regards to the approach or goal itself.

So would it be right in saying that the reason character represents the logical argument and the emotion character represents the emotion argument? Because that is the only way it feels like it makes sense to me in regards to how the other elements work.

In my story, I feel that the character that represents logic would come from the Hipsters side. The Hipsters are very logical, passive aggressive, master manipulates, always calm. But they have a subtle way of agitating their detractors – who always respond emotionally (getting angry, lashing out etc), which makes the hipsters look better.

So could the story logical argument be from the Hipsters - We are from the city – city is better than town. We are more cultured. Know what is best for the town. Why would you not want to be better? If you don’t like the town you can always just move to a town you like – it’s easy – we have cars and public transport to help do it.

Where the emotional argument comes from James’ crew (represented by one of his supporters). Hang on, this is my town, my grandparents lived here and so did my parents. This place means a lot. I’m not just giving it up to some tourist.

Is this right? Should I be doing it as emotion and logic arguments, or just have characters that are driven by emotion or logic (Chewbacca & Princess Leia).

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I can think of one reason elements such as Feeling and Control might not strike you as particularly attached to the Story Goal. Those elements belong to archetypical characters who fall within “The Passenger Quad”.

Of course, I don’t know where the idea fits in with all the recent developments in how we understand Dramatica. But the concept of the Passenger Quad still has it’s place on the official website. You can read about it here:

Here’s a description I found:

Unlike the first quad, these four Characters are not the prime movers of the story, but rather ride the coattails of the Driver Characters. If not for the Drivers, the Passengers would not even be involved with the problem. Each represents an approach or attitude in the story: Sidekick is forever faithful while Skeptic is forever doubting; Reason acts on the basis of logic and Emotion responds from feelings. Of course, each of these Characters also has its own motivations, but seen Objectively as part of the Story Mind they represent different approaches and attitudes toward solving the problem.


It’s not that they affect the story objectively, it’s that we are looking at them from an objective place. Like, imagine seeing a couple having a fight in a restaurant. We don’t know why they’re angry or crying, we can’t feel it, but we can see it.

First, yes, you can have the totality of the hipsters be logic and the totality of the townfolk be emotion. Doesn’t have to be a person.

Second, you’re understandably tripping over what it means to have a “logical/emotional argument”. Traits are represented by how characters act. That action is the argument. They don’t have to have or make an argument – their behavior is the argument.

Chewbacca is making an emotional argument in Star Wars. He’s not just driven by emotion. Those things are equivalent.


Yes! That’s exactly how Objective Characters work.

And it’s hard to really answer your question about motivated towards logic or feeling or making a logical or emotional argument, because they both read the same way. (Which it seems like both @MWollaeger and I were writing at the same exact time :grin:)

Your illustrations of Hipsters and the crew work great (assuming the goal is something in reference to the town).


And glad we said the same thing!!