Story Goal Issues
by Dylan Roberts
(Dallas, Texas, US)
Hello, I have a question involving my story goal. This is my first multi-chapter story so I'm trying for a simple, Jim Carry-esque character arc. You know, main character has a obvious and extreme flaw and-because of the arrival of some catalyst for change-overcomes the flaw. At least, I assumed it would be simple, but I am having trouble finding my character's goal through all of this. I know MY goal of pushing the character to overcome his flaws, but I'm not sure what HE wants to achieve. His flaw is lack of assertiveness; letting others push him around. I don't think that he believes he can become more assertive at the beginning of the story. He more likely thinks he's just a natural pushover and can't change. Does the story goal have to be something that he wants from the very beginning? Does it have to be something the CHARACTER wants?Answer:
The goal dos not have to be something the main character wants - though it will be something the protagonist pursues (these can be two different characters).
The story goal is the thing that will heal or solve or fix the problem in the story world. It will affect or involve the majority of characters.
In the case of your main character who lacks assertiveness, it may be that his choice, at the critical moment, to become more assertive is what will allow him to achieve the story goal.
What you want to do is create the arc of the main character's inner conflict. Show him as a pushover in act 1. Then let us see him pressured to become more assertive. Let him make the right choice when he is in his most difficult hour - to assert himself. Then show him at the end, happier or more at peace because of his choice.
The arc of the main character's inner conflict is separate from the overall story, which concerns the pursuit of the story goal, but they are connected because the main character's choice determines the outcome of the overall story.