Deb's Morning Pages

My Writing Life. One Morning at a Time.

No Need To Explain


There is no need to explain why your character did something. If you ask somebody to read your work (another writer or reader) and they question a character’s motivation for doing something, don’t waste your time explaining why the character did it unless you need to work through HOW to show your character’s motivation for doing something because clearly you didn’t. Pointing out that in prior chapters/scenes you’d set up the so-called motivation doesn’t cut it. Or, simply say “thank you” and move on. Because if you so strongly believe you have all your ducks in a row, then clearly the person who posed the question will get it. Maybe I don’t get it, but I do know motivation when I see it. And I also know that writing is tough. Hell, critique is tough. But it’s all apart of the job.


Author: Debra


6 thoughts on “No Need To Explain

  1. You’re preachin’ to the choir – hallelujah!

  2. This is a great point. Sometimes you think you’ve put in the motivation but, because you know your characters so well, it didn’t always translate onto the page. Other times, people are over thinking it and don’t agree with your motivation. IN my opinion, don’t bother defending – it never works. But, ask them why they don’t see the motivation and what they see as the motivation, and why it didn’t work for them. Then, take a look at their response and decide if there is any action needed. Usually, upon further probing, you’ll find the problem – either its not on the page or they didn’t like it.

  3. Yes, explaining why a character did something is the worst bad example of telling, as in ‘show don’t tell.’ I don’t need to have everything explained to me when I read. Maybe if a character did something that I wouldn’t do, that’s a clue about something deep inside them that doesn’t need to be shown more clearly.

  4. Yep, it’s a hard lesson to learn but we all need to learn it. Thanks for visiting Brian.

  5. Megan, Exactly! How many times have you and I said to each other, “what the heck are you talking about?” hahahaha.

  6. You’re right, Chris. I figured out what the motivation was but an editor wouldn’t take the time to make the leap. As writers we don’t want to give editors/agents any reason to set our pages down.

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