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CHARACTER MOTIVATION THESAURUS
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A compelling goal is one of the cornerstones of strong fiction, but conveying why the character is driven to achieve it is what draws readers in and makes them care. Explore all angles of character arc by digging deep into what is motivating your protagonist, the obstacles that could stand in their way, and how sacrifices may play a role if the character is to succeed.

*Dark Motivations: These are unhealthy or negative goals commonly embraced by villains or protagonists pursuing a false motivation (one they believe will fulfill them but ultimately will not).
*Kidlit Motivations: Goals like these are often pursued by children and young adults and frequently occur in stories written for those age groups.

ACHIEVING DOMINION OVER ANOTHER (DARK)

ACHIEVING SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT

AVOIDING CERTAIN DEATH

AVOIDING FINANCIAL RUIN

BEATING A DIAGNOSIS OR CONDITION

BECOMING A LEADER OF OTHERS

BECOMING THE SOLE POWER OR AUTHORITY (DARK)

BEING ACCEPTED BY OTHERS

BEING ACKNOWLEDGED OR APPRECIATED BY FAMILY

BEING A PHILANTHROPIST

BEING THE BEST AT SOMETHING

BREAKING PEOPLE SO THEY ABANDON THEIR BELIEFS (DARK)

CARING FOR AN AGING PARENT

CARRYING ON A LEGACY

CATCHING THE BAD GUY OR GIRL

CAUSING SOMEONE PAIN (DARK)

COMING TO GRIPS WITH A MENTAL DISORDER

CONTROLLING OTHERS (DARK)

COPING WITH A LEARNING DISABILITY OR ILLNESS (KIDLIT)

CORRECTING A PERCEIVED MISTAKE (DARK)

CREATING OR DISCOVERING SOMETHING IMPORTANT

DEALING WITH BULLIES (KIDLIT)

DISCOVERING ONE'S TRUE SELF

DOING THE RIGHT THING

DOING THE RIGHT THING (KIDLIT)

EMBRACING A PERSONAL IDENTITY (KIDLIT)

ESCAPING A DANGEROUS LIFE ONE NO LONGER WANTS TO LIVE

ESCAPING A KILLER

ESCAPING CONFINEMENT

ESCAPING DANGER (KIDLIT)

ESCAPING HOMELESSNESS

ESCAPING INVADERS

ESCAPING WIDESPREAD DISASTER

EVADING RESPONSIBILITY (DARK)

EXPLORING ONE'S BIOLOGICAL ROOTS

FINDING A LIFELONG PARTNER

FINDING FRIENDSHIP OR COMPANIONSHIP

FINDING ONE'S PURPOSE

FINDING SOMETHING LOST

FITTING IN (KIDLIT)

FORCING A BIG CHANGE (DARK)

FORCING CONVERSION (DARK)

FORGIVING ONESELF

GAINING CONTROL OVER ONE'S OWN LIFE

GETTING REVENGE (DARK)

GIVING UP A CHILD

HAVING A CHILD

HAVING IT ALL (DARK)

HELPING A LOVED ONE RECOGNIZE THEY ARE HURTING THEMSELVES AND OTHERS

KEEPING WHAT ONE HAS NO MATTER WHAT (DARK)

LEARNING TO TRUST (KIDLIT)

MAKING SOMEONE PROUD

NAVIGATING A CHANGING FAMILY SITUATION (KIDLIT)

OBLITERATING AN ENEMY (DARK)

OBSESSIVELY PURSUING A RELATIONSHIP (DARK)

OBTAINING GLORY WHATEVER THE COST (DARK)

OBTAINING SHELTER FROM THE ELEMENTS

OVERCOMING ABUSE AND LEARNING TO TRUST

OVERCOMING ADDICTION

OVERCOMING A DEBILITATING FEAR

OVERCOMING A FEAR (KIDLIT)

OVERTHROWING GOOD WITH EVIL (DARK)

PROFITEERING (DARK)

PROMOTING CHAOS (DARK)

PROTECTING A LOVED ONE

PROTECTING ONE'S HOME OR PROPERTY

PROVIDING FOR ONE'S FAMILY

PROVIDING SECURITY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

PROVING SOMEONE WRONG

PURSUING A PASSION

PURSUING A TOXIC DESIRE (DARK)

PURSUING JUSTICE FOR ONESELF OR OTHERS

PURSUING KNOWLEDGE

PURSUING MASTERY OF A SKILL OR TALENT

REALIZING A DREAM

RECONCILING WITH AN ESTRANGED FAMILY MEMBER

REPAYING A DEBT

RESCUING A LOVED ONE FROM A CAPTOR

RESISTING PEER PRESSURE (KIDLIT)

RESTORING ONE'S NAME OR REPUTATION

RIGHTING A DEEP WRONG

RUINING SOMEONE'S LIFE (DARK)

RUINING SOMEONE'S REPUTATION (DARK)

SAVING THE WORLD

SEEKING DEATH (DARK)

SERVING OTHERS

SOLVING A PROBLEM (KIDLIT)

STOPPING AN EVENT FROM HAPPENING

SUPPORTING ONESELF FINANCIALLY

SURVIVING LOSS

SURVIVING THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE

TAKING WHAT ONE IS OWED (DARK)

TRYING SOMETHING NEW (KIDLIT)

TRYING TO SUCCEED WHERE ONE HAS PREVIOUSLY FAILED

WINNING A COMPETITION

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