- A Little Sisterly Advice
- Cheeky Reads
- DRD aka Donna's Blog
- Gunner Marnee's Blog
- J.K. Coi: Living with Immortals
- Just Janga
- Killer Fiction
- Kimberly Killion
- Maggie Robinson
- Maureen O. Betita
- Megan Kelly
- Pam Clare
- Renee Lynn Scott
- Romance Bandits
- Romance Dish
- Scapegoat's Blogspot
- Smartass Romance
- Terri Osburn Writes Romance
- Tessa Dare
- Vauxhall Vixens
- 2013 (80)
- 2012 (206)
- 2011 (237)
- 2010 (325)
- 2009 (307)
- 2008 (254)
- 2007 (66)
One of the best workshops I attended during Nationals was You Say Tomato, I say To-Motto: How Character Motto Influences Plot, Conflict & Other Story Elements presented by Susan Gable. I realized in the middle of the workshop that Ms. Gable also presented one of the first workshops I ever attended. I still use techniques she taught in that one. If you ever get the chance to attend a workshop presented by Susan Gable, I highly recommend it.
Now, down to business.
Every hero and heroine has their own built-in motto. As Ms. Gable defines it – “A deeply held personal belief, stemming from the character’s back story, that impacts the way he/she views the world and the way he/she behaves.”
I always learn better with examples so that’s where we’ll start.
Hero X - Good soldiers don’t cry/pick yourself up and carry on.
Background - Father in the military who repeated these words over and over.
Environment – Few close friends and little if any personal effects in home.
Behavior – Every injury is a scratch no matter how serious and it is never an option to think about, discuss, or heaven forbid admit to having feelings.
Heroine X - Feelings are important and should be explored.
Background - Raised in a home with a lot of drama, possibly a parent who acted or worked in psychology/psychiatry.
Environment – A hugger whose home is filled with deep colors, lots of fabrics and overstuffed furniture.
Behavior – Every experience is an opportunity to explore how she feels and share those feelings with anyone around her.
Motto is a great tool for both plotters and pantsers. Plotters can take the foundation of the motto and dig deep into the backstory and pantsers can use the motto as they go along to keep the character acting and reacting in ways that fit who they are. Plotters can use mottos to plan ways to test the characters, challenge them, and create conflict. Pantsers can use mottos to maintain motivation without having to think too much about it.
In the end, mottos tell the writer what these characters will ultimately teach each other in order to find their HEA. They take the guesswork out of the equation and still allow for new twists and turns along the way.
Other motto examples:
I'll do it myself.
Life is short, eat dessert first.
Everybody lies/Everybody leaves.
No risk, no reward.
I know I'm right, don't confuse me with the facts.
These could go on endlessly.
Have you ever used mottos for your characters to shape your stories? If not, would you be willing to try it? If you were writing the story of Hero and Heroine X above, what would you throw at them and how would you bring them together? (To Sin – I promise this not a secret ploy to make you plot. *g*)