Story goal for a paranormal Romance

by Adrienne
(Spokane, WA)

Question: I don't know how to word this best but here is a try. I have an idea of what is going to happen in the story that I am writing but I don't really know how to translate that into a story goal. I have been told by others (mostly my sister who also writes) that my stories lack plot and I agree. It is by far the most difficult thing for me. So I guess I need more examples or something of Story Goal because while I understand (at least I think I do) the idea of a story goal figuring out one seems much more difficult.

My story is a story about two roommates who end up being targeted and turned into vampires by a controlling jerkwad who has literal mind control powers and their attempts to escape him and find some semblance of normal after their transformation and trauma. But that seems almost more a theme than a story goal and I don't know if I am just being thick headed (a thing that happens a lot with me) or if I am genuinely stumped. See the problem is that that goal seems really to only involve the three of them and that my various other characters don't really have a stake in that directly. They have other reasons to be involved: hating the villain, wanting to preserve their own way of life, preventing a breech of the "Masquerade" (to borrow for WoD) and I don't really know how to wrap all of this together. And further still my attempts to just wing it have proven lack luster in so far as they always run out of steam well before the story feels complete.

Answer: It seems to me you have two possible stories:

a) a horror story about the vampire attacking these two roommates

b) the story of their recovery from the trauma of their transformation

Assuming it is the second (a little like the Jessica Jones Netflix series), it may be that you just need to flesh it out the overall story a little.

So, let's assume your main character wants to obtain a normal life--whatever that means for her. (Maybe she didn't have one before she was transformed?) The vampire transformation is the initial driver that creates a threat (making her goal harder to achieve).

The second driver (end of act one) will be an event that offers her a new opportunity to find that life. Perhaps she can connect with others who want the same, but perhaps for
different reasons? This is where your other characters can come in. Maybe they are all wanting a more normal life (whatever that means to them individually).

So the goal will be the normal life (friends? family? community? safety?). You choose what that would look like for your characters. The consequence would be the opposite of that.

I don't know if you use the Dramatica software, but if your main character's biggest internal concern is her desire for closure (recovery from the trauma), that would suggest that the impact character has an internal concern with being open to new possible futures. For instance, if you want your vampire to be both the villain and the impact character, the vampire may be concerned with finding a new possibility for his future (perhaps he wants a power base, a better food supply, etc.)

Dramatica would then suggest two possible types of story goal/consequence.

1. Obtaining
2. Changing one's nature

For instance, if the characters are all seeking a safer life or a supportive community (goal of Obtaining), the consequence if they fail might be everyone losing their humanity by becoming vampires (Changing one's nature).

Or, if the goal is for everyone to give up their past personal traumas (goal of Changing one's nature) and become better people, the consequence if they fail might be that the vampire takes away their community (Obtaining).

This is where you bring in your other characters and give them a common concern or goal and a consequence (threat) to be avoided. The more specific you can make these, the easier it will be to plot.

Next, try to figure out...

Requirements: What things must the characters achieve if they are to succeed in their goal? Whenever a requirement is met, the reader will see that they are making progress.

Forewarnings: What might happen to suggest that the consequence is getting closer? When forewarnings appear, they make the reader fear that the characters will fail.

These first four elements (goal, consequence, requirements, and forewarnings) are essential to a plot.

You can further develop your overall plot using the rest of the 8 Elements ...

Or by using the W-Plot model...

This overall plot will be happening at the same time as your main character undergoes her internal conflict and her personal arc. The more you develop it, the more narrative drive your story will have.

I'm a strong believer in creating an outline for this plot, whether it's one paragraph or 20 pages, even if you change it in the writing.

Best of luck.

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