M&Ms for Characters: Milieu and Motivation

Instructor:  Sharon Mignerey

Most of the fiction writers I know have several books on character development that espouse all sorts of advice.

Most of that advice boils down to making sure character development includes two things: milieu and motivation. In a word, M&Ms. Of all the techniques to build well-rounded characters, these two provide the necessary fodder to create unforgettable characters.

Milieu is that wonderful French word that encompasses all aspects of a setting—the physical, social, and cultural. In this workshop, we look at this from the perspective of your protagonist’s history, comfort, and emotional connection.

Motivation, as all writers know, is key to having your characters move through a story in a way that feels natural and organic. Motivation includes the big “why” that drives the story question and the little “why” that focuses on what he wants in this scene right now.

Of all the techniques to build well-rounded characters, these two provide the necessary fodder to create unforgettable characters.