What happens when a character has two motives? One innocent and the other deceitful? And towards the same person? Or different persons? If a double motive is directed towards one other character, I think this gives the writer a difficulty. Such as, who is this character? The writer will have to explain somehow why their character is ‘double-minded’ or complex or at least make it intriguing or interestingly mysterious.
If, from the same character, an innocent motive is directed towards one other and a deceitful motive is directed towards another, this is easier to write. It may mean that the character loves one and dislikes the other, as simple as that, or was complimented by one and offended by the other and drew a reaction to that.
But the character could only have a motive that is plain and simple evil, whose behavior depends on the situation, is outwardly innocent towards one, and aggressive towards another, but both times wants to hurt the others. Enough of evil. What of good motives? Yes, we need those; integrity.
Setting is very much important to what happens within the above parameters. If the setting is an office, the actions of the characters are more subtle rather than overt, for example. If the setting were a desert, a jungle, a village, and so on, all have different expectations. But if the story is a fantasy, more other worldly things are accepted.
“I have two websites I use for information on publishing,” said the fledging writer to her inquisitive hearer. She was ashamed of being a fledging in front of this successful person, but thought that with possibility, possibility should never die and keep her going, until it reached fruition, with the possible becoming more than probable, and turning her notion into something real.
The musing said to the aspiring novelist, who was getting no younger: Hope the younger ones do for the traditional publishers that are still going, depending on what they would write for them. Nothing short than…May just find something else. Something better. So, for you, I will keep the possibility of ‘afresh’ avenues open, as should the younger ones. But keep knocking on the door, from time to time.
In storytelling class, the lecturer may discuss the concept of compelling choice. For these lecturers, compelling choice is the pivot on which the plot turns in the classical story structure. The main character faces dilemmas at various points and has a choice between two or, even better, more choices of action, but the character chooses one way because the choice compels more than the other possibilities. Real life is faced with such challenges as well at all sorts of levels. I wish that in real life we would always make the best choices, but in stories a character is a character with its own personality, beliefs and ways of doing things. It’s just that some choices compel the protagonist more than others. This is good material for the writer. The character can make authentic choices because one choice was more compelling that the other possibilities. In real life this can be as difficult as choosing the most unselfish course of action.
If I was an editor, I wouldn’t want to explain my decision to a writer if I rejected their work. Somehow, I get why editors generally do this. A decision may fit the editor’s criteria for rejecting a piece, but a decision can also be quite subtle and lucid rather than fully defined. There’s just this sense that a piece is not quite right. So, the editor passes on it after due consideration and an explanation should not be forthcoming from a subtle sense of uncertainty over a piece. How could you define it? So, writers should be assured that sometimes there are not explanations for rejecting a piece — the feeling just wasn’t right. Anyone should be able to ascertain this through their own decisions over selecting or rejecting things where, sometimes, the feeling is the basis for the decision and it just didn’t feel right. I know I do.