How to keep the reader on a false goal, while the real goal is something else
by Tommie Holden
Question: Okay, I know that the question might be a bit hard, but I am really wanting to write this novel that won't let me sleep at night!
I have read all of the tips of how to make the Story Goal and the 8 steps to making a Plot Outline. By reading all of the articles, I believe it has grounded my story goal and plot.
Which is why I need a quick answer!
See my story is about a girl (abused by her father and other bad, horrible things) has finally been set free from him, yet everything he did to her still remains. And she doesn't want to bother her mother about it or anybody else, because they do not need to carry that weight on their shoulders like she does. Plus she gets bullied and in the story her close friend deceives her. Horribly, if I must add.
Onwards, I will ramble on if I don't...
She plans out suicide is the best answer and sets all of these plans into action to succeed in her goal; to kill herself. But I want to trick my readers into thinking that through most of the book that she is okay, which is why I set a fake goal for the readers to set them way off; to fall in love.
How would I trick my readers into thinking that she is in love, but also have her plan out that she is suicidal, which towards the end shows them that?
I don't want to hint though, because I feel I will be predictable...
And I was also thinking I might add someone to save her, which is her consequence.
So in all of this! How do I trick my readers and keep up the many obstacles of how she wants to find love mixed into her true goal?
I almost forgot to mention another twist in this story!
She has a ghost that lives in her house, who doesn't like her idea of dying or trying to find love so soon.
But I changed her friendly ghost into a figment of her imagination!
She created him when she was younger and forgot him, when she tells all her problems to him, she simply answers herself,
I suppose its split personality.
Could it also be possible for these two goals to be intertwined into one huge goal or would it be forcing two separate stories into one?Answer:
To answer the last question first, you certainly could have one overarching Story Goal in this story. It could be to escape from the self-loathing brought on by the abuse, or to change her situation. Within that, she may think the solution to her problem is one thing (love, suicide), only to realize at the climax that the real solution is something else.
I think you have to decide whether you're writing a comi-tragedy, in which she succeeds in committing suicide and therefore fails to resolve her inner anguish, or a tragi-comedy, in which case she fails to commit suicide, but that turns out to be a good thing because it leads to a better life (the ending where someone saves her).
If she dies, the thematic message would be that you cannot outrun your fate. The abuse doomed her, and there's no escape. If she lives, the message would be the opposite.
Of course, it's up to you what type of message you want to convey.
You may also need to decide who the impact character is - the ghost or the love interest. Either could be a candidate for the savior role.
As for how to trick the reader...
One possibility is to consider downplaying the Requirements, all the things she puts in place in preparation for her suicide attempt. Make these seem innocuous as they occur. Mask her true purpose as she meets each one.
At the same time, exaggerate the Forewarnings, the signs that she may be falling in love. At least, have her go through all the motions in a big way, even if she's not as emotionally engaged with her love interest as one normally would be. (You want the reader to see the warning signs, but only in hindsight.) It's what you leave out that creates the mystery.
Often people who have made the decision to take their life become much calmer, less bothered by the painful emotions that troubled them before. It's a feeling of detachment that can make her seem more "OK" than she really is.
Best of luck.