A Character's Goal

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A CHARACTER'S GOAL

I'm going to be picky here, and very specific.

Your character needs a goal.

Yes, from the VERY beginning of the story, we need to know her (and by her, I mean the MC. Doesn't have to be female. You should know this by now...?) aspiration in life at that time.

Let me lay this out for you.

Say you have a female, who we'll name Jane. The plot of the story is that she's going to fall in love with this really hot guy. So you start the story with her and her BFF talking, and BAM!

Enters Hot Guy.

Well, at this point, your plot is going to be blatantly obvious. It's going to be so predictable, that we as readers could probably tell the story for you.

Ex: Jane hates Hot Guy because he's a player, but they're forced to do something together and they fall in love!

HOWEVER! What about at the beginning you introduced the MC's passionate love for cooking, and her ultimate desire to go to cooking school. This makes her unique, gives her a goal, gives her a personality, AND keeps her from being some girl with absolutely no dreams except to fall in love with a  hot stranger. Plus, there's another up side to this. Conflict! Every story needs conflict, so if you throw in a great goal your character has and a hot guy, there's conflict!

How? She has to choose between the cooking school and staying with the guy. That's a tough decision, and can create conflict.

Now, your character's goal doesn't have to be what causes conflict. It's just an option. Her goal can help with the plot of a romance in some of these ways:

a) Create conflict. But we already talked about that. Read above.

b) Create relationship between MC and love interest. Yeah, so maybe the guy supports her goal. He wants to help her reach it. That's how they become great friends AND fall in love.

c) Be the reason MC and love interest meet. How about instead of a random meeting that leads to love (seriously, how often does that happen?), they can have a shared interest and meet at work/school/craft-fair/etc. They meet BECAUSE of her goal!

d) Well, the love interest can even BE the goal. Yeah, so maybe he is the president of the U.S.'s son or something. The MC's pure goal in life is to marry him. Sounds bizarre, but people can be bizarre.

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If your plot doesn't have romance, then I really hope you have some goal for the MC...I was just pointing this out because many romance novels tend to only focus on the romance, as if the MC doesn't have real dreams like everyone else. If you don't have romance, I bet your character already has a goal, because if not...then she/he is just meandering around pointlessly and the story is a waste...

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TYPES OF GOALS:

Now, you may be thinking that goals have to be big and significant. They don't. What's your goal right now? Get an A in class? Impress a guy?

Here's a list of some normal, simple goals your character could be focused on: (One or two or ten of them! It doesn't matter!)

~Pass a test

~Impress certain guy

~Win parents approval

~Get a job at a certain place

~Graduate high school

~Graduate college

~Make a friend

~Get married (but she isn't sure to whom yet?)

~Save money and travel the world

~Become a published author (Oh wait, that's my goal.)

~Find her father

~Get into a certain school

~Never get married (This is actually some people's goals. She can say she's never gonna get married, but then hot guy enters and creates conflict! Also, if you use this, don't just have her throw away her goal the instant a guy comes in. She has to be strong and stubborn and stick to it for quite a while for it to be convincing. Same with all of these goals.)

~Become famous

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Are you catching on? Also, the great things about these goals are that they can be temporary. For instance, in the first chapter she may be solely focused on getting an A on the test. Well, once the test passes, that's obviously not going to be her goal any more. Give her a new goal. She needs to always have something to focus on so she isn't just wallowing around in self-pity or self-admiration waiting for a guy to come along.

KEY POINTS:

Keep the plot moving with your character having something to do other than waiting for the inevitable falling-in-love between the characters.

Keep your plot unique by giving your character a unique goal.

Keep your plot believable by giving your character a life! Please! We all have goals, don't we?

Keep your plot interesting by having us root for your character to achieve her goal!

Keep your plot from becoming like all the others, with everything just WAITING to happen. Surprise us.

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That's all for now on this!

CHALLENGE: Figure out what your character's goal(s) is/are. Perhaps even make a list of his/her goals. If you can't find ANY (and there should always be at least one at any given time), then you need to think about some believable goals that your character could have that would make sense. Think about how you want them to play into the story. Insert them. This applies not only to romance, but also to everything else. If your character is just sitting around waiting for the plot to happen, it's not going to be as believable. It'll be predictable.

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