Character motivation for editors

Every editor of fiction knows the importance of character motivation.

Consider the following scenario: Sarah steals a car. She picks the lock and hot-wires the ignition. (However that works. Can you even start cars by hot-wiring the ignition anymore? Maybe you need a computer? Gosh, making stuff up is hard.) It’s dark, and she’s scared. The owner of the car might catch her in the act. The police might pull her over for speeding because she can’t keep the accelerator off the floor.

Pretty exciting, right? But the interesting part, the part that drives the story, isn’t that Sarah stole a car. The interesting part is why she stole the car. Consider:

A. It’s Joe’s car and Joe stole her beloved Yorkshire terrier (the #1 most stolen dog, I checked) and sold it to a rich lady in another state. Sarah is out to get revenge on Joe and get her dog back.

B. She just lost her job as a copy editor at the Chicago Tribune and can’t afford a bus ticket, and she’s desperate to get home to her sister in Louisiana before her sister dies of cancer.

The action remains the same, but the different motivations create completely different stories.

Blog Motivation

People have any number of motivations for writing blogs. Some folks write blogs to share their experiences — a month-long bike trip, or raising a child. Some folks write blogs to share their knowledge — amazing recipes for piecrust, or tips for growing the best Brussels sprouts.

Some folks write blogs to promote their business. To me, the phrase “business promotion” reeks of salesmanship, of people who try to sell you things that you don’t want. How can you trust a person who tells you what you need when they don’t even know you?

As freelance editor, I don’t want to be that person. I know I need to put myself out there in order to find work, but I refuse to wave my website in people’s faces and say, “I’m so great! You should hire me!”

Every editor knows that a story is more powerful when it’s shown, not told. I’m motivated to write this blog not to tell you that I’m an awesome editor, but to show you who I am so you can decide for yourself.

I’m going to share writing prompts. I’m going to post my own creative projects. I’m going to talk about adverbs. I’m going to post the proofreading-test article about a squirrel invasion that I wrote in college.

If that sounds like your kind of story, stick around! If you’re looking for someone to convince you to buy something — or if you want to know how to steal a car — definitely try somewhere else.

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