Q: Is there a way to find an original motivation that is also strong enough for an adventure story? I want to avoid clichés: avenging a dead parent; seeking a treasure; winning the love of a prince. But it seems as if the simplest, most intense, and most relatable motivations are also very overdone in this genre.
A: Don’t worry about your hero’s desire being trite and familiar. Just about all visible goals in any genre have been done many, many times. Usually they are some version of either winning a battle or competition (HUNGER GAMES), winning another character’s love (THE PRINCESS BRIDE), escaping a bad situation (JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE), retrieving something of value (any Indiana Jones movie), or stopping something bad from happening (any MISSION IMPOSSIBLE or AVENGERS movie). As for inner motivations, they will almost all be to gain love, acceptance, power, revenge or significance.
It’s the CONFLICTS heroes face in pursuing their desires, and the ways they plan to overcome these obstacles, that will make any story original and emotionally involving. So, focus on the external obstacles your hero must conquer to achieve her goal, and the inner conflict that pits your hero’s fear and identity against the emotional courage she must show to fulfill her destiny.
These are the stories that will have the greatest impact on your readers, audiences and followers.
You can read more in my Hero’s Desires Series, where I break down a hero’s primary goals to help you identify the ones that are essential, and how to manage them all while keeping your story simple and powerful.