CHARACTER MOTIVATION THESAURUS

CAUSING SOMEONE PAIN (DARK)



Never struggle with Show-and-Tell again. Sign up and activate your free trial, Sign in as a subscriber to view the Character Motivation Thesaurus in its entirety, or visit the Table of Contents to explore unlocked entries.

START MY 2-WEEK FREE TRIAL

HELPFUL TIP:

To understand why your character is driven toward a certain goal, take time to understand their personality and moral compass using the positive and negative trait thesauri. Also, dig into their backstory to find an unresolved emotional wound. Past trauma is disruptive and can generate unmet needs that, if strong enough, will motivate your character to chase a specific goal to satisfy this need.
NOTES:
When characters hurt emotionally, they may want to take that pain out on others, causing them the same type of agony. Others just get off on it, and still others might have a valid reason for causing pain.

FORMS THIS MIGHT TAKE:
Repeatedly causing soft tissue injuries (cuts, burns, bruising, flaying, etc.)
Breaking bones
Using instruments of torture to cause physical trauma
Applying torture techniques (waterboarding, drugs, exposure to the elements, restricting oxygen, sound torture, etc.)
Giving someone a painful disease or illness
Psychological torture (hurting loved ones, exposing the character to phobias, using sleep deprivation, etc.)
Inducing hypersensitivity so a person has no way to block pain receptors
Chemically rending a person immobile yet conscious during a surgery
Applying a chemical directly to tissue
Forcing someone to ingest poison
Electrocution
Force-feeding or starvation
Hanging the person or utilizing body-binding, forcible contortion, or restriction

HUMAN NEED DRIVING THE GOAL (INNER MOTIVATION):
There are five basic human needs that, when missing from a character's life, could motivate them to pursue this goal. The following needs are all possibilities, but only one of them should be the primary driver for any given character. For more information on the relationship between human needs and outer motivations, please see​ this ​Character Motivation tutorial.

Self-Actualization: An inability to move forward until a specific target experiences the same pain the character does (especially if there is an injustice of some kind) may lead to this goal. Alternatively, if the character is a sociopath, their desire to have a transcending experience that can only be attained by causing another pain and fear may be the motivation.
Esteem and Recognition: A character who feels undervalued may wish to show off their torture skills if it means impressing someone of importance and winning their admiration.
Love and Belonging: Between two consenting adults, the application of pain is a bonding experience that, for them, leads to a deeper relationship. Alternatively, an unstable character may cause someone pain because they feel that by doing so they are helping that person to become a stronger individual.
Safety and Security: If a character is desperate, they will torture someone to get information they need to protect themselves or a loved one.
Physiological Needs: If a character is struggling for survival, they likely will not hesitate to cause someone else pain to get what they need.

HOW THE CHARACTER MAY PREPARE FOR THIS GOAL:
...

POSSIBLE SACRIFICES OR COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS GOAL:
...

ROADBLOCKS WHICH COULD PREVENT THIS GOAL FROM BEING ACHIEVED:
...

TALENTS & SKILLS THAT WILL HELP THE CHARACTER ACHIEVE THIS GOAL:
...

WHAT'S AT STAKE IF THIS GOAL ISN'T MET?
...

CLICHÉS TO AVOID:
...