Tuesday, January 31


This week here on Wordwranglers, we're discussing motivation.  At first, I didn't want to participate.  I had another subject in mind.  But then, I thought about what I wanted to talk about, and motivation was exactly it!

Some of you may not know that I've fallen in love with the TV show Justified.  My daughter Brandi turned me onto it, and she and I watched the first two seasons non-stop, back-to-back.  Then I started watching it again.

Don't read further if you don't want a spoiler alert.

I'm in lust, er love, with Raylan Givens, the lead character.  He's a US Deputy Marshall who  has been sent back to Harlan County, Kentucky because of a justified shooting of a drug dealer in Miami. 

There's nothing about this man I don't love.  Did I mention that?

He's a bad ass.  He likes to shoot first and ask questions later.  He's overcome a rotten childhood.  Women love him.

I love him.

Okay, you're saying, what does all this love have to do with motivation?

There are two things the writers did that felt off to me. 

One, they have Raylan falling in love with his ex-wife Winona again. 

And two, they've made her pregnant at the end of Season Two. 

Well, Raylan did.


What's wrong with that, you ask?


Brandi and I were discussing it, and his motivation is all wrong!  He was with the beautiful, gun-toting, abusive-ex-shooting Ava.  She was a good match for him in all ways.  She isn't afraid, she's tough and she's gorgeous.

Winona is Milquetoast.  She's all wrong.  I don't buy for a minute that Raylan would be motivated to be with her again.  Not over Ava.

And to make her pregnant?

This guy isn't a family man.  He had a terrible childhood.  He hates his father. 

No motivation for him to make her pregnant, accident or not.  In fact it seems to me he'd be motivated not to make a woman pregnant.

I still love Raylan, and I will keep watching, but I'm a little leery now.  Are the writers going to mess with me again?  Do, and I may quit watching.

And your reader may quit reading.

And this, my friends, is why motivation in our books is so important. The reader has to believe the motivation that drives the characters.


  1. I wrote this post at 1:00 a.m., after work, so hope it makes some kind of sense...LOL

  2. It does make sense, D'Ann. :) Motivation is important for the story and the readers. The characters have to have a motive to reach their goal. Motivation can change, but it has to be clear to the reader when it changes and why.

    Great post!

  3. I've been watching Justified from the very beginning. Love it. Not really lovin' Winona but I have to believe they have a plan in the works.

  4. Great post D'Ann...motivation is very important and it does need to be believable. I haven't watched Justified, but I have read books like what you are talking about. When they make a character do something that doesn't fit in with their personality, it does lose me sometimes, or makes me think that they wrote that part in there because they needed it there, not because it worked for the character.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble lol...enjoyed your post :)

  5. Great post, D'Ann! Love Justified and totally agree about the ex-wife. I'm worried about where the writers are taking the show too. They can't mess with Raylan's character too much or they'll ruin it. And thanks for the wonderful post on motivation because I think I really need some right now to keep my ms going :)

  6. It's always crucial that we believe in the main characters in a novel. The connection has to be there or the novel is put down. Certainly, motivation is one of the keys in believability. The actions of the present have to be consistent with the backstory developed for a character. If the h/h acts out of character, the reason for it has to be clear. D'Ann, I haven't seen the show you're talking about but will try to catch some of it.


    Jacqueline Seewald
    TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS--in local libraries

  7. I don't watch Justified, looks like I'm missing a great show. But I would guess this is the dark moment. Maybe the baby isn't his, and his ex wants him back? He's a good guy and does the right thing.(Remember he's a man, and he wasn't thinking with his right head in the heat of passion) Perhaps he really loves the other girl and it'll all come out in the wash. Think soap opera- Maybe, ex has baby, child needs a blood transfusion, and his blood type or whatever doesn't match. Or maybe, the girlfriend finds out his ex had another lover and she tells Ryan. Ryan orders a blood test ect... Of course, you'll have to wait til next season to find out what happens next...
    The camera is showing you only, what they want you to see.
    LOL just thinking...
    Good post,

  8. makes sense to me. I think motivation is all about the emotional baggage our characters (and, heck, us in our real lives) carry around. Haven't watched Justified but with the past you (and the writers) have given him, I don't see either of those actions, either.

  9. Ah, but accidents do happen and now think of the conflict that will occur.

    Of course I've never seen the show, so I'm probably not the best one to comment.

  10. GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Right? I haven't watched Justified (though it sounds really good). That would require wrestling the remote from not one, but out of two of my spawn's death grips. I gotta pick my battles. *sigh* (see, I ramble also)

    With Justified...does this mean more conflict is coming up for those who watch the show?

    Just like when you throw a loop and take a dally (goal & motivation), and the rope ends up under the horse's tail (conflict).

  11. I haven't watched Justified, so I can't say anything about the show. But I've seen weak motivation in books. Heck, I've struggled with that in my writing, especially in the beginning. What seemed so clear to my mind didn't translate onto paper or screen when I really scrutinized it.

    Great post, D'Ann!

  12. Great post and you are absolutely correct. Our character's motivation has to be believable or simply put, it won't work. Not for most readers anyway.

  13. I have actually quit reading books or watching tv shows because the writer(s) messed up and made me quit believing the story. And you're right it's all in the motivation of the characters.

    Good post.

  14. Motivation--the WHY is def important. Great post! A lot of writers forget about the motivation.

  15. Great post! I can't comment on what you're talking about because I haven't seen it, but I love how you've drawn the picture.

  16. I haven't seen Justified--no TV time any more--but I know how those writers play with their characters. But yes, believable motivation is essential. I've had crit partners scribbling all over an ms "Why is she acting this way?" I knew why, it just didn't come out on the page. LOL Excellent post, D'Ann!

  17. D'Ann...Great post. I've seen the previews for Justified, but haven't watched. I don't need another TV show to suck me in and steal time I don't have...LOL

    Anyway, I agree with you. The motivation has to make sense. It has to fit the character. I've read books where the a main character does something totally out of character just to set up conflict that, then, doesn't feel organic (natural).

  18. Thanks everyone for coming by today. I apprecaite your comments and encourage you to watch the best show on TV!

  19. Havong that motivation problem right now. My hero's motivation got lost somewhere in this story.