13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

Our listeners submitted some great questions!

  • How do you fairly and even-handedly write a deeply compelling character you deeply dislike?
  • What’s the best way to discuss a character’s underlying motivations without expressly stating them in narrative or dialog?
  • How well should characters understand their own motivations?
  • How do you make non-violent characters interesting?
  • Can there be too much depth to a character?
  • How do you balance character depth across multiple attributes?
  • How do you make a character motivation seem deep when most people’s motivations are actually pretty shallow?
  • Do you create standard dossiers for your characters?
  • Does your story have to have a villain?
  • How do you know whether or not a character’s voice is working?
  • Do you track words or phrases that are unique to a particular character’s voice?

Liner Notes: Brandon mentioned Howard’s “Tyrannopotomus Rex” doodle as part of the writing prompt. Here it is, should you need visual reference.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.


Write a story about Howard’s “Tyrannopotumus Rex.” (Yes, it can be a story about how that’s not what a real tyrannopotomus rex looks like.)

Pitch Dark, by Courtney Alameda

2 thoughts on “13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation”

  1. My introduction to There Will Come Soft Rains was an audio version on Dimension X. https://youtu.be/HF7954TWz2k So far as I can tell, that was in 1950. I would have been 7 or 8 years old. I remember thinking that the house must be sad. IMHO the house is a character.
    Also, it was paired with Zero Hour. These are th first SF stories that I remember.

    With all of love,

    C. J. Czelling

  2. Out in the wild, wild west of Utah, the fearless foursome of Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard took on a lengthy list of questions, digging into the depths, and spreading across the breadth of characters, especially motivations! It was Q&A time at the Writing Excuses corral, with lots and lots of answers! So, read all about it in the transcript available now in the archives and over here:


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