Story Goal in Paranormal Romance

by shelley

Question: I was wondering if you could give me examples of story goal for paranormal romance stories. I think I'm confusing story goal with internal and external goals. Any advice will help thank you.


Answer: What distinguishes the story goal is that it...

1. Is primarily pursued by the protagonist.
2. Affects or involves most of the other characters. Either they have an interest in whether this goal is achieved, or they are concerned with the same type of goal themselves.

I don't read a lot of paranormal romance, but I did read Twilight recently for research purposes. (Fans, please forgive me if the following at all appears superficial.)

In Twilight, as it appears to me, the story goal is to gain possession of Bella. Edward (the protagonist) wants to possess her, but in a way that preserves her humanity, while James (the antagonist) wants to consume her humanity by biting her and turning her into a vampire. The werewolves seem concerned with preventing her from being possessed by any vampire, and this goal involves/affects all the other vampires, werewolves, and her father to some extent as well.

On the other hand, the personal concern of Bella (the main character) seems to be her desire to become a vampire and join with Edward.

She has strong feelings for Edward (symptom) and tries to be rational about them (response), but it appears as though the only thing that would satisfy her desire (solution) would be for him to give into his desire and bite her.

Meanwhile, her inner conflict concerns her low opinion of her value, looks, etc. and whether these make her unworthy of Edward's love - even though she appears to be his intellectual match.

Note that the protagonist and the main character (or principle POV) can be different characters, as in this case, but more often they are the same character. However, just as Bella's desire to be bitten is something unique to her in Twilight, a character's personal goal is their own, while the story goal is shared with or involves others.

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paranormal romance

by shelly
(Michigan, U.S.A)

Question: I just recently been addicted to any type of romance books involving supernatural powers. My favorite author is Gena Showalters "The Lords of the Underworld." My question is I'm currently writing a story about this town I made up. It's filled with all sorts of mythical creatures, fairies, dwarfs, half-human half-demons etc. My protagonist has a family tradition where the fathers arrange marriages for them. The man her father sets her up with is the hero in my book. He's the total opposite of my MC he's rich handsome. My MC is Plane Jane works, at a library. But I'm having trouble with my story goal. I've read the 8 elements but I was having trouble understanding it. If you could help, I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

Answer: If you're writing a romance, the one nearly universal rule is that the heroine will find true love by the end, which means a Judgement of Good.

As for the story goal, there are some romances where achieving a happy marriage is the goal (for example, Pride and Prejudice or most of Shakespeare's romantic comedies). In such cases, the entire cast of characters is involved in the goal. Either they are seeking love for themselves or for someone else.

In most modern romances, there is an overall story - a plot that involves most of the characters that has nothing to do with love and romance. Nonetheless, the heroine's involvement in that plot gives her an opportunity to find romance. For instance, this plot may provide an excuse for the hero and heroine to be thrust together. By working together (or at odds) towards the story goal, the couple have an opportunity to discover their love for each other. To take a cliche, you might have a couple who are motivated to solve a crime or a mystery, and in the course of working on that problem, the two of them end up falling in love. Or they might be involved in a business venture, etc.

The story goal is important, because it is the thing that unifies the story.

One way to identify the goal is to ask whether the characters win in the end.

If it's a romance, the heroine will end up better off because she will find true love in the end. However, the next question is whether the story goal is achieved. Does the overall plot end in success or failure?

If the overall plot ends in success and the goal is achieved, that's a classic happy ending.

If the overall plot ends in failure, but the heroine still finds love, that's a tragi-comedy or personal triumph story.

The rest of the 8 elements are there to create dramatic tension. For instance, the Consequence shows how important the Goal is, by showing the disaster that will happen if the Goal is not achieved.

Requirements are stepping stones on the way to the goal. As they are achieved, the reader can see the heroes are making progress.

Forewarnings, on the other hand, increase the reader's anxiety because that show the Consequence is getting closer - suggesting that the heroes might not achieve the goal.

It's the interplay between these elements that keep the reader turning pages to see what will happen.

The other four elements create two other types of tension that further heighten the drama.

Hope that helps.

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