Goals and motivations



We all want different things for different reasons.

For example, this person wants to go to the moon:

"If I'm elected president," he said, "I think maybe we will go to the moon."

Rocket BoysHomer HickmanSource

Why do they want to go to the moon?

  • Do they want to have a party there?
  • Do they want to run the country from a moon base?
  • Are they on the run from a climate catastrophe?

Luckily, they tell us a moment later:

"If I'm elected president," he said, "I think maybe we will go to the moon." He swept his eyes across the people, now attentive. "I like what this young man says. The important thing is to get the country moving again, to restore vigor and energy to the people and the government. If going to the moon will help us do that, then maybe that's what we should do."

Rocket BoysHomer HickmanSource

Here we have a nice example of two related concepts:

  • Goal: What you want.
  • Motivation: Why you want it.

For the speaker in the snippet:

  • Goal (what): Go to the moon.
  • Motivation (why): To restore vigor and energy to the nation.

(To make sense of the last point, we need to understand that the speaker means 'we, the nation' might go to the moon—not the speaker personally.)

Your turn
Discussing your answers

Going to the moon is a big goal—are only big goals interesting or important to us?

No! We have goals of all shapes and sizes, of all levels of importance and urgency.

These goals and motivations are the engines of story—they drive what happens.

In this lesson we'll learn to identify and describe them, and use them to create action and conflict.

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