So I've been working on this book idea I have for a few years now. I've spent a lot of time thinking and not much time actually writing, but I have a great idea as to what will be happening down the road, how the main character will meet all the supporting characters, and even a few twists to keep the story interesting. But for the life of me I can't settle on a good source of motivation for him. The most obvious and cliche ones come to mind immediately; his family and frinds are killed, his village burns down, he feels obligated to. None of these have the realism and the grit that I want to convey. My character is very duty driven, but not very social, so having him freak out when his village dies may not make much sense. He does have a thirst for adventure, but not for getting himself killed. He is a realist and it's very difficult for me to see him putting himself in harm's way for others. Throughout the book, this will change, but I need the motivation before he becomes a more well-rounded person and without it being extremely cliche.
This issue has made me look at motivation as I've seen it in other books and movies and when it was done well or poorly.
Eragon- I love this book series, but the initial motivation is a bit shaky. Eragon is a total homebody. He freaks out when his cousin is about to leave. Then all of a sudden he gets a baby dragon and he becomes some super hero revenge-seeking beast. Not likely. Realistically, he would have seen the threat coming, hid out in the woods, and tried to survive until the king came to kill him.
Star Wars the Real Trilogy- Luke is a whiner, but he always thirsts for adventure. Setting him up as an adventure seeking character makes it feasible that when his home is destroyed, he heads off to live his dream of fighting in the rebellion
Harry Potter- Their main motivation is just to be nosy little brats as most kids are. This would be fine, but even little kids know not to kill themselves and to, at some point, call for help.
The Heir Trilogy- Most probably haven't heard of this series, but i'd recommend it for a pretty easy read with an entertaining story. The motivation starts out with him just wanting to see what he can do with his cool new powers and it ends up being a fight for the freedom of huge groups of people. A bit shaky, but still amusing.
The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm- Another book most people haven’t read, it starts out with a group of detectives being hired to find some missing children and it turns into this whole huge epic quest. Similar to the Heir Trilogy, The initial motivation is fine, but it makes little sense why the three detectives here would go and save the world like they do.
The Lord of the Rings- I’m sure most people don’t want to hear anything bad about this series, but the idea that a midget of a person would willingly venture into the fires of Mount Doom to drop a ring in a volcano seems silly to me. Love the story, not the motivation.
Iron Man- Tony Stark sees his legacy being tainted and put in the hands of the same murderous bastards who tried to kill him. Simple revenge motivates him, then turns him into a modern-day super hero. I really like how they did it.
Your Highness- I just recently saw this movie, and although the movie itself was terrible, I like ho they showed Danny McBride’s character being motivated by his want to be as good as his brother while still being hesitant to actually do it.
Fired Up! (because I can)- Just a couple guys lookin for girls. Gotta love it.
Jennifer Government- A great read. I would strongly suggest anything the author Max Barry puts out because he is a phenomenal writer. Great motivation. A government agent trying to stop an already out of control system from taking over the world. Very well written.
The Parent Trap- I recently watched this movie again because... well I’m easily amused, and I realized that what they did makes very little sense. When they got home they could’ve easily exposed that they found out the truth, confronted the parents, and demanded different accommodations. But then there would be no trap, it would have had to have been called Parents Being Put in a Slightly Awkward Situation and that just doesn’t flow very well.
Overall, I’m just tired of the clichés that are so widely used and accepted, but the problem is, without the clichéd traumatic events, there is no motivation. Maybe the reason I view them as stale is because that is how to get someone motivated to do the extraordinary things required in a fantasy book.