Another day, another very slow internet forcing me to consider posting from my phone again. But, that's neither here not there. No, today I wanted to touch briefly on character motivation. I'm reworking a scene and I realized that the side character in it didn't have as strong a personality as I wanted and it struck me why. They were just set dressing.
Every person that exists in your story, from the main protagonist to the person that sells them donuts in act 2 has some kind of motivation. This is gonna get a little nerdy (as if it isn't already) but there's a good example for keeping this in mind. Might anyone out there be familiar with a little franchise called Ghostbusters? Well, I doubt you're familiar with the short lived table top RPG that was created around them in the late '80s. The company that made it went under and all their stuff is available online for free, so if you're looking a for fun, very different RPG, give it a shot.
Back on topic, though... this RPG has character cards, as they do, and every character has a motivation. Now, when you make your character, you give them motivations like "help humanity" or "get rich," but even throwaway characters in this game are given a motivation. Some have been "to have lunch," or "to find the perfect book." These may sound weird, but it helps to remember that every character you come across has their own motivations.
So, when I wrote this shopkeeper for The Paladin, I lost track of what they wanted, of what their goals and motivations are. Now, they can be grandiose and epic, like saving humanity or conquering Kentucky, or they can be mundane like "get this person out of here so I can eat my pizza." The point is, those motivations drive the actions and dialogue of the characters and make them real.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.