I Sat My Character Down…

I wanted to make my kids laugh.

And said, “Listen up, Honey…I don’t get you.  Why do you do the things you do?”

Isn’t that the biggest question of all?  Why??

Even in real life – gasp – I know, I know.  My characters aren’t real.  Sometimes I swear they are.  Sometimes I’ll be at a dinner party or get together and realize I’m talking to a real person and not with the people in my head.  And I’ll be discombobulated for a bit.

Back to – even in real life, isn’t why the biggest question?

Why are you wearing that?

Why did you eat that for breakfast?

Why is your favorite tea Earl Grey?

Why do you write in the middle of the night?

Why do you eat with your fork upside down?

Why do you tell your kids everyday that you love them to the moon and back?

Why do you let someone else go ahead of you in the grocery line?

Why do you stare into space for large spans of time?

I think Earl Grey smells like Ireland does.

This leads me to motivation.  Everyone has a reason for doing what is done.

This is one of my favorite parts of writing.  Digging into the past of my characters to flesh out their reasons for why they do what they do.  It is so exciting to find out something wonderful about my characters, especially when I didn’t see it coming!

So as for my reasons…


I wanted to make my kids laugh.

I couldn’t be bothered to cook anything real.

I think it smells like Ireland does.

My house is quiet then.

My mom ate that way.

I so do, love them to the moon and back.

They only have a few things.  I have a million.

That’s how my imagination works.

Why I stare into space for large spans of time.

How does your imagination work?

What do your characters do to surprise you?

Rionna Morgan

Romantic Suspense as Big as Montana



  1. Fun post, quirky and thoughtful! I believe thinking about characters’ motivations makes me a better person at times. Why, you ask? Because, when someone in real life acts in a way others don’t understand, I can often offer possible reasons. “Maybe he had another fight with his wife…maybe she’s feeling bad about all the weight she’s gained…maybe she’s having trouble sleeping again, you know what that’s like….” It makes me less judgmental, because I realize we never really know what lies behind someone’s actions, and so we can’t assess them fairly on them.

    • M.J. Schiller,

      Hi!! So nice to meet you! 🙂 Sort of officially. I agree with you…you never know. I learned that so well as a teacher. Some kiddos would walk through my door with the weight of the world on their shoulders. I always tried to remember that.

      Thank you for spending time with me today.

      All the best,

  2. I agree about motivation. Sometimes, I use the enneagram (an ancient system that gets behind behavior to why people do the things they do, i.e., motivation) to provide some answers. I determine what enneagram sign my characters are, and that helps me understand their motivations. Loved your post, Rionna, and best of luck with your book!

    • Hi Susan – I’ve not heard of enneagram before. How ancient is it?

    • Susan,

      What a wonderful thing to remember. We have a brief introduction to this when I was getting my undergrad…I went just now and took a “quick” test. I am type 2 – a helper. 🙂

      What a great tool to use. Thank you. And thank you for spending time here today and for the compliments!

      All the Best to you too!!

      PS. So nice to meet you here!

  3. Love your post, Rionna. I’ve never been to Ireland, but I would so love to go. Must get some Earl Grey.
    I have a psychology degree, so I love to try to get some use out of it somewhere. What I love most about character motivation is giving them a mis-guided belief, something that stems from back story, that they believe to be true, but really isn’t. Something like I’m not lovable, or you can’t escape your past. It helps me to get into their heads and figure out their attitude. And this is where their growth comes from. It’s such fun!

    • Sharon,

      Hi!! So nice to see you here. 🙂 Thank you for the compliments. You are so wonderful.

      Psychology degree…hmmm…I might e-mail you so I can ask some questions. I have a character who is puzzling me – hence the post. Can I e-mail you?? I would really appreciate a brainstorming session.

      I hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. Hi Rionna – love your quirky post. I’m kinda quirky myself (well in my head I think I am). Love the china cups and saucers. I collect a few myself. I’ve been to Ireland – in the dead of winter – to visit relatives in Cahircaveen (Count Kerry) and they were the most hospitable people ever but that, sigh, was over 30 years ago now! We sill send Christmas Cards every year which I love.

    As to understanding characters I often just wing it and see what they tell me and I’m continually astonished by what they say!

    • The lovely Rowena! So nice to share some of this day with you.

      So am I right – does Ireland smell like Earl Grey – No, don’t tell me. I want to find that out the day I go. 🙂 I think it would be a lovely thing to know and love someone in Ireland enough to send them Christmas cards every year. Sigh…

      I am big on listening to my characters too! I love it when they surprise me.

      May a little mystery grace your day!

  5. Ha! Great pic Rionna – and great topic. Had this conversation with Dream Man just last night. Sometimes people just do things because they do. (And yes, this was about ‘real’ people.)

    Of course when we write we need actions, like words, to count. I try not to overthink it when I’m in the middle of a manuscript and then go back and tweak at the end when I know the characters better.

    • Irene,

      So nice to see you again!! Thank you for laughing with me on my silly picture! My kids just howled!!

      I am a big over-thinker in the beginning. I try to define who my characters are so that I can build from that knowledge. But after I’ve gotten going, I let them lead the way.

      I hope you day was pleasant and a bit sweet!

  6. I’m never surprised when my characters get bossy with me, but I am sometimes taken aback by how little they wish to answer my questions. I use Meyers-Briggs then. As for Earl Gray tea – it reminds me of my favorite sweater, which was, appropriatly enough, gray.

    • Lola,
      So nice to see you here today. Thank you for dropping in and spending some time with me. Meyers-Briggs, another great tool!! So clever writers are!!

      I hope you have a lovely afternoon!

  7. Great fun post, Rionna. You already know how my brain works, ass-backward and funky! But I totally love it when you go all teacher (and in a red wig) and remind us all of the all important “why”. Thanks as always!

    • You are too funny! And I miss you like crazy!! I think it’s silly that I wrote a funny post…well funny for me. Go all teacher and in a red wig–ha ha! You are welcome as always!!

  8. I agree, Rionna. Questions are the key. As they say if you don’t have the answer is because you didn’t ask the right question.

    • Oh yes, the right question~ what a great way to look at it. Thank you for stopping in. I’m always so happy to chat with you. I just love your blog! Hope you’re doing well!


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