Sometimes your story will demand overarching goals that span several
.For example, your character may know in
#3 that he wants to go out withthe neighbor girl, but this isn’t a goal he can accomplish in just one
. Hemay not achieve this particular goal until
#11.That’s where partial goals come into play. Just as
goals build up to theoverall story goal, partial goals build up to fulfill overarching goals, whichthemselves eventually lead up to the overall goal. In our example, thecharacter’s journey to reach this particular overarching goal might include partialgoals such as purposefully bumping into the neighbor girl several times, gettingher phone number, buying her flowers, and apologizing for yelling at her dog.Overarching goals that require several
to accomplish do not negate theneed for individual goals within each interim
. But don’t limit yourself withthe notion that each
has to be an island unto itself. Each
is just asmall part of the larger whole. Since everything must integral, everything can’thelp but be intertwined.
Questions to Ask About Your
Once you’ve identified your
’s goal, stop and ask yourself the followingquestions:
Does the goal make sense within the overall plot?
Is the goal inherent to the overall plot?
Will the goal’s complication/resolution lead to a new goal/conflict/disaster?
If the goal is mental or emotional (e.g., be happy today), does it have aphysical manifestation (e.g, smile at everyone)? (This one isn’t alwaysnecessary, but allowing characters to outwardly
their goals offers astronger presentation than mere
, via internal narrative.)
Does the success or failure of the goal directly affect the
narrator? (If not, his POV probably isn’t the right choice.)
Goals in Action
Let’s examine a few
goals in action. Just for continuity’s sake, I’ll be usingexamples from the same four books and movies I used in my Secrets of StoryStructure series.
Pride & Prejudice
by Jane Austen: Mrs. Bennet’s goal in the first chapter is toconvince her husband to call upon the newly arrived Mr. Bingley. Even thoughshe’s not the story’s protagonist, she is the primary actor in this first