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Motivation is a "push" - "pull" deal
by: Richard

Perhaps I can shed a little light on the "problem/necessity" question as I'm not sure I cover that in the book.

This world we live in is sort of rigged; such that for every objective there is a barrier. And for every barrier that we overcome on the way to that objective there appears another barrier.

Start >------>| barrier....... (Objective)

Collectively this arrangement is what we could call a "game" - the game of life.

The line between us and our objective is a line of purpose. We are driven and enticed along this line by our "motivations". And motivation consists of two components - a push and a pull. We are pulled by our "desire" to achieve the objective and we are pushed by the "necessity" to achieve it.

All that's very philosophical - but here is what it looks like in a story; as an example.

Dorothy "desires" to win the baking contest at this year's county fair. But as circumstances develop Mom winds up in the hospital and needs an operation to save her life. Now Dorothy suddenly has a "necessity" to win the baking contest because the prize money is the only hope of paying for Mom's operation.

Art, it would seem, must mimic life. The very same type of desires and necessities that motivate us in our everyday lives must motivate the characters in our stories.

Hence, this is what truly defines "plotting" in a story. Good plotting is not just a random sequence of things that happen no matter how "exciting".

Good plotting is a function of Design.

Starting with the point the character serves in the story (the premise that their path will illustrate), we can get some idea of what the "event" for them must be. Understanding this word "event" is crucial. So, I spend a far amount of time going over it in the book as it relates to the structure of stories.

When we understand this characters "event" (which has its final culmination in Act-3) then we can "plot" backwards from there the two "Incidents" which make up Act-2 and Act-1 and finally arrive at the Introduction.

So it would look something like this:

Intro.>--->|1st Incident>----->|2nd Incident >---->|Event?Conclusion

And if we "zoom" in a little we see:

Intro.>---- | barrier ---->|1st Incident>----| barrier ---->|2nd Incident? etc.

From Introduction to the mini climax of the 1st Incident (and successively thereafter) our protagonist is trying to achieve a rather simple objective which has a rather simple barrier. They fail to overcome that barrier and thus fail to achieve the objective. Which is good because if they succeeded that would be "game over" and the end of our story.

Boy wants girl, boy gets girl - is not a story.

Boy wants girl, boy can't get girl, boy finally gets girl - that's a story.

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