While innocently frittering away my school hours, my mind wandered to a subject that often leaves me paralyzed in inexplicable aversion: My writing. My questions of the year reared their little ugly heads: “Why doesn’t my writing ever feel complete and alive? Am I terrible writer? Should I quit the one thing I absolutely love doing? What if I’m not good enough for this venue of work? What if I’m not cut out for this? Aaaagh! What if I’m just wasting everybody’s time?! ”

For once, I found an answer. Well, to the first inquiry, anyway.

It’s not my setting. It’s not my storyline. It’s not my plot. It’s not the themes. It’s not the color of the sky, it’s not the climax, it’s not my style of writing. It’s not even the fact that I use odd words like boondoggle, widdiful, or pulveratricious.  No, no, it’s my characters.

…Or, well, a LACK of what my characters have: Motivation.

Scanning over a few short stories and incomplete novels, I’ve found a trend: Most of my characters lack motives and reasons. I never actually put thought into the “Why” of what they’re doing. I make the character, I give them a past and a present and maybe a future (unless they mysteriously expire) and I shove them into a plot, but they don’t have reasons to be there; they’re just along for the ride.

And there it is, too: I have a PLOT, and I have a “goal” they’re seeking to complete, or a place they need to go or something they need to do… But rarely, very rarely, do I have a believable motive as to why they are attempting to achieve this. It takes away the human feel; the minor realism; the life of my writing.

… Time to work on fixing that little screw-up, eh?