CHARACTER MOTIVATION THESAURUS

ESCAPING A KILLER



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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.
FORMS THIS MIGHT TAKE:
Getting away from a serial killer
Evading a hit man or assassin
Escaping a murderer
Fleeing from an angry spouse
Getting away from a person seeking revenge for a past wrong
Escaping a family member looking to cash in on an inheritance
Freeing oneself from an unstable person (due to mental illness, hallucinogenic drugs, demon possession, etc.)
Fleeing from an enemy or jealous rival
Being kidnapped by someone who wants to keep one from testifying, and needing to escape
Escaping a loan shark’s henchman
Getting loose from a criminal intent on tying up loose ends (after a home invasion, a sexual assault, a kidnapping, etc.)
Evading a stalker
Escaping from a super-fan suffering from delusions

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: If a character is working toward a significant achievement that gives their life purpose and a killer seeks to stop them, the determination to escape is more about realizing that potential than it is about mere survival.
Safety and Security: When loved ones are threatened, a character will be driven to do whatever is needed to keep them alive.
Physiological Needs: When the character has been marked for death, the need to survive will put them into fight-or-flight mode and push them to the lengths of their endurance to protect themselves from the killer.

HOW THE CHARACTER MAY PREPARE FOR THIS GOAL:
Hiding in a place of concealment
Hiding in public where one is invisible in the crowd
Attempting a blitz attack where one strikes quickly and then runs away
Seeking the help of police or FBI to track down the killer
Obtaining leverage that may sway the killer into letting one go
Hiring a mercenary or bodyguard as a means of protecting oneself
Going off the grid
Fleeing the country
Entering a witness protection program
Investigating on one's own to find the killer before he can succeed in his plan
Going on the offensive in a kill-or-be-killed scenario
Using oneself as bait in order to capture the killer
Learning new skills in order to defend oneself (self-defense, weapons training, etc.)
Reaching out to the killer's enemies to collaborate or gain help
Utilizing inherent skills to evade capture or go on the offensive (hunting or tracking skills, computer hacking or other investigative skills, survivalist training, etc.)
Faking one's own death

POSSIBLE SACRIFICES OR COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS GOAL:
Draining one's financial resources
Giving up one's job or career to go into hiding
Being viewed as a victim when one has worked so hard to not be seen that way
Putting one's family at risk
A family member or friend being captured, hurt, or killed as a message to the intended victim
Having to flee and leave one's family behind to protect them
Asking for help and having that person be killed
Making a decision that gets a bystander killed
Being injured (physically or psychologically)
Escaping to a new locale but not being able to thrive there

ROADBLOCKS WHICH COULD PREVENT THIS GOAL FROM BEING ACHIEVED:
Police officers who dismiss the threat because they don't believe there is one
Police officers that are inefficient or inadequate
Corrupt officers who can't be trusted
Not having enough money or resources to escape
Having family that one must care for or protect (especially if they are not mobile, such as a child in hospital care or a spouse needing regular medical treatments
The killer being highly technical and therefore being able to track one online no matter what safeguards are in place
A killer who is well-connected, making the police force reluctant to go after him without solid proof
A killer who has many resources and is difficult to out-maneuver
A highly motivated killer willing to cross any moral lines or take any level of risk to end one's life
The killer getting help from an unidentified person in one's inner circle
A physical limitation (a broken leg, a medical condition, etc.) that interferes with one's ability to flee or defend oneself
An inability to travel out of country (due to missing paperwork, a criminal record, etc.)
A tenuous personal situation that makes it risky to go to the police, like being wanted for a crime, living in the country illegally, or having loved ones who are at risk of incarceration or deportation if one seeks help
A past trauma that causes an incapacitating fear, such as the killer being involved in that trauma

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

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

CLICHÉS TO AVOID:
  • Discovering one's killer is the very person one trusted to help
  • A killer who plays a deliberate game of cat and mouse and leaves clues to their identity that lead to them being caught