Cut your Character Motivations – TIP

Don’t waste time including character motivations, plans or goals in your script unless it has something to do with the visual of the panel.


Joe is riding his bike down the tree-lined street of his neighborhood. *He thinks he can reach the stadium in time.* or maybe even: *He’s headed to the stadium.*


Donald walks with a bundle of roses under his left arm, planning to give them out to each pretty girl he encounters.

  • Is the artist intended to capture “he thinks he can get to the stadium in time”?
  • Is the artist intended to capture “He’s headed to the stadium.”? Is putting a sign behind the character “Stadium arrow right 4 miles” relevant? Or is just showing the kid in the next panel pulling up to the Stadium main entrance SHOW US that the kid was headed toward the Stadium?
  • Is the artist intended to capture Donald’s plan to give the roses out in upcoming panels in some visual fashion?

The answer to all of these is a most-likely, no.
So if the motivation isn’t helping define part of the visual leave it out.

You can include motivations when they enforce emotional states or work to directly support the panel visual. (Often, there’s a lot of subtext an artist can draw from, from a well written motivational line.)
There are also times when a motivation may be required for continuity sake, to keep the artist clear on where the story is at any given moment.

But more often than not, motivations are just a crutch, compensating for a lack of visual writing.

About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S.  Visit for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.