Once there was a goal strong enough to build this tower. I hike often up Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside, Calif. At the top is the Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge. Kids love to climb up the castle-like stone stairs. People read the plaques.
In 15 years it will have been a century since this was built by residents of the city to honor a local leader who tried to promote world peace. It was in the wake of World War I, which was called then the War to End All Wars. It wasn't, as we know all too well.
But the goal of peace, the desire, the motivation lives on as people are reminded whenever they climb up and see this monument.
Motivation is the backbone of novel writing. If your characters don't have it, you've got an empty shell. Sure, you can write compelling action and lyrical prose, but without motivation it goes nowhere.
There's a great quote attributed to Kurt Vonnegut: "Every character should want something even if it's only a glass of water."
If that character is tied up by kidnappers in the desert and hasn't had a sip to drink in a day, that desire becomes critical. The story needs a Big Picture goal as well as smaller ones that lead to it. So that once the character escapes the kidnappers and gets that drink of water he can go back to stopping the alien invasion of the planet or whatever.
On the Literary Lab, Lady Glamis did a great post on the dangling carrot. She developed a motivation map to track how she is driving her characters and creating tension.
I'm reminded of all this as I strive for my own goal of writing 50,000 words of a brand-new novel this month. I've made motivation lists for my characters in hopes I can keep those threads strong as I go. It's a huge challenge, and I don't know if I will make the word count or if I will have written something viable by the end. I do know that it's another invaluable experience.
As of last night, which was the seventh day of writing, I had reached 14,511 words. I'm motivated, and hopefully, my characters are, too. How about you?