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I kinda have a theme, but I wasn't consciously aware of it until I read your post.  Without getting to much into it, here's an example of what's hanging me up.  The lead character was an orphan who was raised in mines by dwarfs and has no idea where he came from.  He encounters a small group of his own people and goes away with them.  He has practical reasons of doing so (the plot pretty much drives him to do so) but on a personal level, he's motivated out of a desire to connect with his roots and find out more about his origins.  This group as a whole, in turn, is searching for a secret meeting place where supposedly dwells what's left of their people.  So the overall theme is finding "home" and belonging.  The central character's arc is complicated by the question of whether he is actually heading home, or leaving it by undertaking this journey.  The real tragedy is that he ends up betraying the group.  He's placed in a situation in which he's forced to do something that he knows is going to forever alienate him from the people that he spent so long searching for.  I can see the betrayal, how it happens, and the fallout from it.  But I don't know why it happens.  I've got to give this character a motivation for betraying his people, and its got to be something relatable to the reader.  We're supposed to sympathize with why he did what he did.  This is where I'm just spinning my wheels.  I don't know how to figure out why he betrays everyone.  I just know he has to because there's no story if he doesn't.  Of course I know that this is for me to figure out.  I'm not asking for suggestions or input.  I'm just confused on what strategy or thought process is supposed to lead me to an idea.  And the more I think about it, the more lost I get.

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I’m about to start a new project, if anyone cares I can post my real-time progress if anyone wants to see my BS in action.

It's funny also to see people saying they write things just for enjoyment. A couple years ago when my parents moved we went into attic to go through crap. I found a box full of old notebooks which bas

For my actual projects. I really need to replace all the baseboards in the house and paint. But it's hot. That's the project I need to work on.   I started selling these pom pom wreathes for $200 a p

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This is a case of putting the plot before the horse, which happens sometimes.

You’ve got all the pieces there, you got a great thematic drive, you just need to find a reason he does this thing.

If he’s the hero, I’d say the betrayal comes as a mistake of some sort. Is he tricked? Is he doing something he thought was right, but backfired?

Dramatically speaking, being caught between one’s adopted people and their true people is a classic trope.

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This is a case of putting the plot before the horse, which happens sometimes.

Might be a really dumb question, but is this also what is known as plot driven?  As opposed to character driven?  I've never been able to fully wrap my head around the difference between plot driven stories and character driven ones. 

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If he’s the hero, I’d say the betrayal comes as a mistake of some sort. Is he tricked? Is he doing something he thought was right, but backfired?

I've got these questions at least somewhat figured out.  For a long while now I've been leaning toward the latter.  He idolized these people, and he feels let down.  He feels that they could, and should, be better than what he is seeing.  His betrayal was his way of trying to force them to take accountability for something that they had done (still don't have a clue what that is).  Kinda like how Wesley Crusher betrayed his friends in the TNG episode The First Duty.  I think I'm going for something like that.  Only the results here are far more devastating.  Or like how Bilbo betrays Thorin by handing the arkenstone over to the elves.  Intensions were good, but still kind of a crummy thing to do, betraying people who'd come to trust you and accept you like family.  I just have to figure out what these people did to warrant that kind of betrayal, and I'm feeling like this involves a huge chunk of the story that I haven't even begun to develop yet.  

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Plot driven vs character driven just refers to where the motivation to keep the narrative moving comes from.

Star Wars is plot driven— there’s always a Macguffin or situation leading the characters around. There’s character stuff, but it is triggered by situations contrived by the plot— example, Luke meeting Ben because he chased after R2.

If it were character driven Luke would have told Owen to suck it and gone off to see Ben of his own volition.

There other big difference is the final climax. If it’s an action scene, it’s likely plot driven. If it’s character driven it will be a more emotional confrontation.

If you do a good job, you do both and people in the internet fight over which it is.

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I think I have my story!  Everything just fell into place.  Literally just now.  Everything fell into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  All the pieces were there.  I just could never see how they fit before.  I know how the hook is delivered in the opening "scene."   And the final "scene" compliments it nicely.  I know how and why the betrayal happens.  Tank, that advice on finding the right thematic drive made all the difference.  Once I did that, the characters just took over and kinda wrote the story themselves.  I still have things I need to develop further, but the big picture is there.  This was such an excruciating process.  I can't imagine doing this for a living.  I've been beating my head against a wall for so long, but the real progress came in flashes of insight.  I'm so excited right now!  

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On 11/14/2021 at 8:00 PM, Quetzalcoatl said:

I think I have my story!  Everything just fell into place.  Literally just now.  Everything fell into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  All the pieces were there.  I just could never see how they fit before.  I know how the hook is delivered in the opening "scene."   And the final "scene" compliments it nicely.  I know how and why the betrayal happens.  Tank, that advice on finding the right thematic drive made all the difference.  Once I did that, the characters just took over and kinda wrote the story themselves.  I still have things I need to develop further, but the big picture is there.  This was such an excruciating process.  I can't imagine doing this for a living.  I've been beating my head against a wall for so long, but the real progress came in flashes of insight.  I'm so excited right now!  

That's great!

This is generally how it always works for me, but my timeline is greatly condensed because I've just done it over and over so many times. It's that 10k hours of practice thing. My first scripts took almost a year to write as opposed to the weeks it takes me now. That's just practice.

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