Can the story goal change?

Question: Hello and thanks for you time.


I am currently writing a teenage romance novel and the story goal is for the main character to get the guy she's been in love with her whole life. Throughout the development of the plot another guy falls for her and will do anything to convince her that he's the one. The main character also realises that the guy she's been in love with isn't actually what she's looking for in a boyfriend.

Can the story goal change and can my character change her mind and decide that she really loves the other guy instead?

Answer: The short answer is yes. What follows is the long answer...

First, usually in a romance, the relationship throughline concerns the quest for love, while the overall story is about something different (often the thing that gets the potential lovers to interact).

However, in any throughline, there are five elements at play here. First is the Concern, which in this case we can say is the quest to obtain true love.

The Solution is the thing that will satisfy that concern. In this case, it is getting the guy who will really be Mr. Right.

The Problem is the thing (the hole in her heart, her emotional need, etc) that only the Solution will satisfy. In other words, if she were to get the guy she's had the crush on, she would quickly discover that (since he's not Mr. Right) the relationship would not satisfy her, would not solve her problem.

The Symptom is what she worries about, what she thinks is wrong with her or her life (not having her lifelong crush, Mr. Wrong).

The Response is what she thinks will address the Symptom - i.e. doing what she can to win Mr. Wrong.

This is a very common situation. Often people pursue what they think is the solution to their problems or needs, only to find out that they've been addressing the Symptom rather than the underlying cause, and that the real solution to their problems was somewhere else all along--maybe even right under their nose.

It's fun for the reader too, because often readers can see that Mr. Right is staring the heroine in the face but she doesn't notice him because she's too fixated on Mr. Wrong.

At any rate, you (as the writer) know that the real solution is Mr. Right because anything else would not be a happy ending. And, if you do your job well, the reader will see that too once they've reached the end of the book.

Best of luck.

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