Journal logo

Character Motivations

by Harley 3 months ago in list
Report Story

Different character motivations for your upcoming book

Character Motivations
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

When you write a story, your character has to have so sort of background. And everything your character does should be motivated by something. Having flimsy character motivations is a quick way for your plot to start seeming contrived and the character choices could start seeming unreasonable. Plus, the psyche is one of the most interesting aspects of a character !

Motivated by Fear

When a character is motivated by fear, there needs to be something holding that fear in place. Power imbalance, past experiences, or reputation can all generate fewer. A character who is motivated by fear is also in a way motivated by survival, since fear is a survival instinct.

Motivated by Pride

When a character is motivated by pride, you should consider if they really believe they are all the things their facade is constructed of. Or if they are using fickle pride to cover some insecurities. If it‘s the latter, then there’s an element of shame you shouldn’t ignore. Ask yourself this, Where did it come from ?

Motivated by Love

This can be self, familial, platonic, or romantic love. Love motivation can be one of the greatest sources of good for a character. You can also approach it from differnt perspective to grey the morality of it. Toy with the line between love and obsession, between love and control.


Maslow‘s Hierarchy of Needs

Besides the three motivations I listed before, you can also motivate your character based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And in my personal opinion, this is a great way to make your character seem more alive. Due to the fact that us, as humans, fall into Maslow’s categories, this is a excellent way to give your fictional characters more life-like characteristics.

Starting from the bottom and working our way up I will explain how each of these work and what they entail


This is the lowest level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. They are the most essential things a person needs to survive. They include the need for shelter, water, food, warmth, rest, and health. A person's motivation at this level derives from their instinct to survive.

This can be tied into the character motivation of fear even, there’s a lot of ways to take the physiological motivation and turn it into something great for your character.


The need for safety was acknowledged a basic human right. Safety needs represent the second tier in Maslow's hierarchy and these needs include the security of body, of employment, of resources, of morality of family, and of health.

This can tie into if your character is happy or not, what’s making them not happy ? Are they secure in their job ? Ask yourself these types of questions.

Love and Belonging

The third level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is love and belonging needs. Humans are social creatures that crave interaction with others. This level of the hierarchy outlines the need for friendship, intimacy, family, and love. Humans have the need to give and receive love, to feel like they belong in a group.

Is your character searching for affection ? A friend ? To fit in ?


Esteem needs are the fourth level in Maslow's hierarchy and include self-worth, accomplishement and respect. Maslow classified esteem needs into two categories:

(1) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence)

(2) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).

Self- actualization

Self-actualization needs are the highest level in Maslow's hierarchy, and refer to the realization of a person's potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.


With the three motivations I gave and the five Maslow gave, you can start to create a motivation for your characters. It can be any one of these, or multiple. Just don’t leave your character hanging, everyone and everything has a motivation behind their actions. You have the privilege to create the motivation for your characters, don’t cut them short.


About the author


Hi, im 18 years old currently in college working towards my bachelors degree in English, inspiring to become an author. :)

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.