Are Your Stories Missing Desire, Motivation, and Uniqueness?

3 min read
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The biggest storytelling mistake is putting the wrong person on camera. Much of the audience's experience relies on that person and how you tell their story. To overcome this mistake, find people with a strong desire, motivation, and uniqueness for your story.

Imagine this!

You begin the process of creating a video to support your fundraising efforts. Someone who always said good things about your organization's work comes to mind. You asked them to be a part of your story, and they agreed.

Yet, your enthusiasm for them changed when you watched the first edited story draft. You felt bored watching their story despite the good soundbites they spoke.

You even ask your hired vendor (or in-house video team) if they can spice it up. They add more B Roll with faster cuts. But it doesn't make the person or story more engaging.

Unsure what to do, you settle because nothing worked to make the story more intriguing.

Thereafter, your development team uses the video for your fundraising campaign. People's feedback is okay; nothing to rave about or complain about other than the story felt flat, but it was okay.

Meet the Big Three: Desire, Motivation, and Uniqueness

Your story was flat because its driver, the character, lacked a strong desire, motivation, and uniqueness. The Big Three is a term coined by Muse Storytelling.

Desire, motivation, and uniqueness get to the shared human truths and experiences. We all have things we want to do or achieve in life. Some of us have strong motivations for desiring those things. Everyone is unique if allowed to share what makes them different.

Let's explore why they're important and how they can make your stories more engaging.


An engaging story includes a character who wants something. Take Lion King for an example (the O.G. Animated version, but it's better than the live-action); the main character Simba wants to be a king like his father, Mufassa.

Simba even sings a song: "Oh, I just can't wait to be king." It's this desire that drives and influences Simba's decisions.

The person chosen for your organization's story needs a desire. The stronger the desire, the better. What do they want? What would life look like in three years for them? What's the biggest dream they want to do someday?

A character's desire is the starting place of their journey we, as the viewing audience, get to experience.


A strong desire without a strong why is a wish. Motivation is the why that drives a person's appetite. Simba's reason for being king was to do things his way, to avoid the rules of others. Simba sings, "free to run around all day…free to do it all my way."

The person chosen for your organization's film needs strong motivation. Their why helps to create a connection through relatability. Their motivation allows the audience to see things from the character's perspective. From here, your audience can empathize with your character.


Lastly, what makes this person different? People's differences are intriguing, drawing us into their world. The same ole same ole becomes mundane. But uniqueness snaps us out of sameness and engages us.


The most significant way to put the right people on camera is to identify characters with desire, motivation, and uniqueness. After all, the goal is to connect with your audience right? Conducting pre-interviews with potential people is a great way to discover their big three. Including the big three in your story will take your audience on a journey while keeping them engaged.

Check out this article if you're curious about how we conduct pre-interviews to determine desires, motivation, and uniqueness.

We're a Minnesota-based storytelling agency serving the Midwestern United States.

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