Okay, so I have a weak motivation for a god character whose son (whom he tried to prevent his birth) seems like he is an apt tool to be used for a plot that will only be brought into fruition about ten thousand years in the future.

The god is Apollo, by the way. And since he is the god of many things, including prophecy (which he stole from the earth Goddess Gaea), he realised that he was going to get in trouble for this with Zeus/Jupiter. So he wanted to stop the child from growing up and being used by Gaea/Terra and her lover Saturn...

My issue is that with so many gods involved, I don't know how to make all their motivations believable. They are gods... they do have rules to follow, but its hard to make them struggle when they are so powerful. So I had originally set the gods in teams against one another, so it seemed more balanced.

However, again, their motivations for fighting seem very petty. For example, I have a mischief god named Hypnos (god of sleep) partnering with Apollo (because I thought it would be funny how Apollo is god of morning an Hypnos is very much annoyed at the concept of 'morning' because he is a primordial deity who likes to sleep) to stop the child from getting into contact with Gaea, or to kill it. And the only motivation I have for Hypnos is that he is 'bored' and or 'wants to mess around with some mortals'. Apollo is just afraid of getting into trouble...

I understand that as the plot builds, as the story follows the boy as Apollo and Hypnos/Somnus' failed to stop him from getting involved. What do I do to make the reasons for them forming a team believable?

In fact, how do I make a god's motivation, believable?!

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    (read Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 17:01
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    Hello and welcome to Writers SE! This is a great first question! Often people are so focused on the ending of their story. How they can come up with a ground breaking goal or ending, and forget to look at the beginning of what motivates them to even start!
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 17:27
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    @ggiaquin is right, the beginning and motivation is very important to have. I'm still struggling with a motive for my villan and I'm close to the end of my book. -_- wait... don't mind me. I'm an idiot. Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 17:41
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    Greek and Roman Gods were mostly powerful immortals who acted like normal humans, with both petty and righteous vengeances as well as with all ranges of friendships and enmities plus lots of plotting for both 'political' and 'love' reasons. My suggestion is for you to forget about them being Gods and just give them motivations that people might have in similar circumstances. Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 18:24
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    You beat me to that comment, Sara ... That's the fun with Greek gods: They're basically the blueprints for super heroes -- "mere" humans troubled by all kinds of emotions with enormous powers. That's what makes them so relatable, I believe.
    – Filip
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 11:23

3 Answers 3


Motivation is the same regardless of what race/being they are. To make reasons for people who are unlikely to team up, team up... They need a common goal. Often in stories, we read someone who is suspicious tempt the MC into teaming up with them (LoTR with Frodo/Smeagol) because they both share what appears to be a common goal. It was unknown to Frodo that Smeagol actually was plotting to take it back.

It could be, in your case, that one god is just simply BORED, but secretly, through the advancement of your story, we find out that this child has meaning to the bored god that is unknown to reader/MC. As the saying goes, the best way to unite people is for them to have a common goal or enemy. Look at the real world... Our country wasn't in the best of shape prior to 9/11. Then everyone united together as 1 country, for a small duration at least, to fight the common enemy. Every time a terrorist attack happens, all the leaders meet to show support and unison in the fight, even if tomorrow they go back to arguing over politics.

Motivation could also very well be that he is simply bored!! He was bored with his mundane life as a god who sleeps all the time and saw a chance to do something different. Often times opposites attract. One guy who is the sun, one guy who is the moon (figuratively). The sun is full of energy while the moon is lethargic. Something about the sun makes the moon want to follow him on his quest.

We can again reference something from J.R.R. Tolkien with The Hobit. Bilbo was a guy who didn't want adventure... didn't want to deal with anything outside of his books and family treasures. Something inside of him made him want to go on an adventure with these sloppy, noisy Dwarves that were totally opposite of the life he was use to.

I suggest to do deeper character building if you are struggling to find a motivation. There may be a dimension you are missing that you need to put the pieces together. Through this reflection of the character bios, you may end up changing some things you realized didn't work, or adding in something that makes it all fall together.

Some times little to no motivation at all allows for the greatest motivation to be born. By the end of The Hobit, Bilbo was full set on helping them regain their home and understands their needs. Don't be so fast to throw all your cards up front. Let the story unfold and you may find that through this, you will discover a far deeper motivation.

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    +1 Wow. When I started reading your answer, I was like "damn, he beat me to it", but as it kept going, I felt relieved that you had answered it so completely already - Great answer! I believe this, in combination with @Sara Coster's comment (on the question) nails it!
    – storbror
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 19:13
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    Thank you all so much for answering my question! A lot of your answers helped me brainstorm a bit more, and each of them was very helpful!
    – Dany Will
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 2:11

For the characters you are choosing to work with, pride would probably be the biggest single motivator. Immortals who are part of a very small group (which would seem smaller with every passing decade) would have an incredible hangup with status within that group. The pecking order would be so meticulously hammered out after a couple thousand years of these same people interacting that any kind of slight at all would probably set one of these guys off against another one.

In fact, given their immortality, it's safe to say that all of these characters would have been at war with all the other ones at one point or another in the past, and would probably end up both allying with and being opposed to every other one again in the future. This gets more interesting when you stop to think that several of them can predict the future to one extent or another, so they KNOW that they will be allied with the guy who is their arch enemy right now against their best friend right now in another millennia or so.

You indicate that they can get powers from one another. That right there is a big motivator. What is the process for getting a power away from another member of the pantheon? What benefits accrue to them other than the power itself? Is their social pecking order predicated on number of powers obtained? If not, you could end up with a super powerful character with tons of powers being constantly slighted. Not the most stable situation...

Immortals would be very weird characters. They would remember slights made against them centuries ago. In Greek mythology, these characters were petty, shallow, and very over the top in their reactions to one another. Part of that is because they were supposed to be archetypes. Even if they weren't so shallow, you have to figure it would get strange with the same 20 people interacting literally forever. You think you get tired of your co-workers in your office? Try living with them 24/7 for a few CENTURIES! I find it very believable that these guys would probably be pretty neurotic by our standards.

One thing they may be fighting over (and which may even act like currency among them) is the ability to forget! Think about it: if their brains don't degrade and they are immortal, the impacting layers of year after year after endless year of listening to Zeus' stupid puns and knowing you would listen to them for the rest of all eternity would LITERALLY drive you crazy. Whoever has the power to wipe away some clutter in the form of memories would be selling that as a party favor. Take some forget juice, wipe away a few centuries of the same old BS, and feel refreshed! They would also probably "become mortal" periodically in order to live a mortal life, forget stuff, die, and actually have some kind of a delineation in the endlessness of infinity which they would look at with almost dread.

How do you look forward to endless years exactly the same as the years you have already experienced? That doesn't seem like heaven so much as purgatory... Mortality itself might be a valuable gift. In this connection, if you wanted to explore that, you might look up On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony, or one of it's numerous successors. In that universe, the "god" position had become kind of an office, which the current inhabitant of would inevitably grow very very tired of and find a way to off themselves, but since someone had to replace them for the universe to remain in balance, they usually had to find a willing or unwilling replacement. The details of this turnover make most of the plot of the series, which is extremely interesting.

To get back to your question: I think they would be trying to climb the ladder of power and replace the guy on top. Powers would be one tool in this game, as would divine and semi-divine progeny and allies. Some kind of system clearly would exist to displace the guy on top, since according to Greek Mythology Zeus himself did in order to set up the current pantheon. That seems to be the only place to go for a mid level Greek deity. There really isn't much potential for advancement in that job, come to think of it. Honestly, it might even be the big motivation for some deity-of-something-or-other to get OUT of being that and force some other shmuck to be stuck in that role for eternity. Remember the stories of Hades, stuck underground and unable to be with his love during the times she was above?

If you think this through, these guys sound a lot more like eternal bureaucratic functionaries than rock stars, and even rock stars get tired of THEIR jobs after enough decades of partying. If I were doing this: I would make them unable to STOP being a deity-of-whatever without a specific writ from mr. Big Boss and unable to really permanently die either unless they get that. That creates a huge motivation: getting OUT of the prison of being stuck with the same 20 people doing the same thing for all of eternity!


Although the Olympians had some super-powers, and were immortal, the Greeks considered them to be just like people in their emotional make-up. They fell in love (with humans), got horny, made mistakes, felt grief, etc.

Effectively they treated the "immortality" aspect as just "they don't ever die" and ignored the psychology of that. They didn't make million year plans or anything, they lived (like humans) day-to-day.

This means you can motivate them just like other humans: Hypnos wants some human girl to love him, and Apollo (for some reason) can make that happen. Hypnos is pissed at Zeus and has a plan to avenge himself (non-lethal, of course) but he needs a co-conspirator: Apollo finds that out and volunteers. What Hypnos wants can be very human like. It could even be an object of some sort he covets that belongs to another god; he wants a lock of Athena's hair. Forget they are gods that live forever. Make them like brothers that compete, but one of them needs to bribe the other into allying with him against their older brother. Not to kill him, just to prank him and get away with it.

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