Must characters have a goal in the beginning?

by Zapata
(London)

Question: Hello... It's me again LOL I think I've post in the wrong section before


I just finished writing novel with two povs and 7 characters.
For the most important character (Just call it 'Ted') I use first person pov and else use third limited.

In the beginning of the story Ted just wants to get out of his town, adventuring from town to town (I feel it's kind of weak goal) but in the few last chapters his goal changes to the stronger one.
So, while Ted still sticks with the weak goal, I build the tension by telling the reader another character's background and conflict. (Don't worry, because all of them have strong goals that will end up with Ted's biggest conflict in the end)

Oh... one more information.
The style I write is like I told from Ted's side. and other, then back to Ted, and else, back again to Ted, etc. (They have different goal though)

So is that okay if I do that?
Well I feeling worry though in the beginning, but after saw movie Dorian Gray I feel It's the same case (Dorian has no goal in the beginning right? or I'm wrong?)

Sorry if the explanation far too long and wasn't so clear' Thanks

Answer: Sometimes the main character does not embrace the Story Goal right away - that is, the goal that eventually most of the characters will be involved in or affected by.

Nonetheless, a main character should have a personal problem/goal that forms the basis of his inner conflict. It sounds like your character, Ted, starts off with some essential dissatisfaction in life, a personal problem which he is trying to solve by getting out of his town.

Assuming that is the case, the challenge will be: will this method of coping by running away ultimately help him solve the Story Goal, or will he have to learn a new approach that involves standing his ground? In the story, we would expect to see Ted pressured to change his approach, perhaps by making alliances or connections to a new community so that he is forced to consider settling down.

If all that is true, we would expect to see Ted forced to make a decision at the climax - whether to leave again or stay. That decision will determine whether he achieves the big Story Goal that affects everyone and what the outcome of the story is.

Best of luck with your writing.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero