External goals for my heorine in a romance novel.

by Teri
(Texas)

Question: I am writing a romance novel about a woman who moves to Maui from Omaha after her fiancee dumps her because he doesn't ever want to have children. The heroine is very depressed because she had dreamed of having it all - the perfect job, the perfect husband, and lots of perfect children. Her parents are very wealthy and successful. Her father is a lawyer at a family owned law firm and her mother owns a very successful dress store in a very wealthy part of town. The heroine moves to Maui to start a new life. Her best friend lives there. She has savings enough to last for only 6 months on Maui, so she must find an accounting job soon. She meets a native Hawaiian man that owns his own construction company. She is not interested because she believes she wants a white-collar worker, professional man. She sees having a lot of money, marriage to a professional man, and lots of kids who never want for anything, as success. And success, to her, means happiness. At the end, she discovers that success is being happy, happiness doesn't come from success. She has a job that pays well enough and a husband that loves her and wants the things she wants, including lots of children. What are her external and internal goals?


Answer: You already know your character's internal goal: finding a more fulfilling life. Her inner conflict is over the values of material success, the image she had of what fulfillment should look like versus children, and a different sort of lifestyle.

As for your external goal, at the moment it is simply to find a new job before her savings run out. As is often the case with romances, the external goal is the vehicle that causes the two romantic leads to meet and interact, thus creating an opportunity for love to blossom.

I would suggest, however, that as external goals go, what you have is a little too simple. You might try to make it a more difficult goal to achieve -- something that has room for more conflict, obstacles, challenges, etc. For instance, perhaps he agrees to hire her, but only if she proves herself by accomplishing a very difficult task, such as landing a major contract with the most difficult client in the world. Make it a task that forces the two to work together in ways that push them past their comfort zones so that they are forced to reveal intimate secrets to each other and become a close team.

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