Story Goal Issue

by KeOh

Question: Ahh, I've seen a similar question asked elsewhere on the site and you responded quite helpfully, so I figured I'd bother to ask myself.

I'm currently working on a book, obviously haha, and I've come upon a rather fetching conundrum. I decided, after reading your site, that my story goal would be for the main character to want to create something. It's a bit hard to explain (and I don't want to give it away) but essentially he lives in a transient world, where creating something is quite unlikely.

Now, the problem I've come across is that I start the story from when he's young and naive. Therefore, he can't really actualize yet that his world can't sustain creations. At least not directly anyway. So I started him off with the goal of trying to figure out the meaning of his existence. Eventually, through this search, he comes across the idea that creating something might be his ultimate purpose.

I'm still working on transitory situations and incidents for the switch, but I have the general idea. In terms of plotting I used the final goal (the creation one) as my overall story goal, since I knew that was where it would inevitably lead. Anyway, I guess what I'm basically asking is... does this seem to jarring of a switch? Or, more importantly, is it a logical one that makes sense?

Answer: Often main characters do not know exactly what would rectify the imbalance that is making them dissatisfied with themselves or the world - at least not right away. They may work for some time towards what they think will solve the problem, only to realize later that the actual solution is something else.

Dramatica uses four terms to describe this dynamic:

Symptom: what appears to be the problem, but is only a side-effect.

Response: what is done to address the Symptom

Problem: the real problem that underlies the Symptom and is causing the world or the character to be in a state of dissatisfaction or imbalance.

Solution: what will actually resolve the Problem, bringing the world or the character into balance or harmony.

Sometimes, if the main character knows from the outset what the Solution to his/her problem will be, the story becomes too easy and therefore boring (especially if the Solution is not hard to implement, once it is known). On the other hand, trying to address the Symptom might be just the thing that leads him/her to discover the real Solution after a great deal of effort in the wrong direction (Response).

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