Story Goal

by Eric B
(Pomona, Ca)

Question: How do you create a story where the only real story goal is to survive? Obviously, the consequence of this story goal not being met is death. How could I make my story goal more complex without changing the main goal?

Answer: On the one hand, you could argue that survival is the goal of most disaster stories such as the film Titanic.

On the other hand, there's an interesting relationship in Dramatica between the Goal and Consequence. For instance, if the goal is any form of "obtaining" (such as obtaining survival) then the Consequence is not "un-obtaining" or "not obtaining," which would be a truism. It would be like saying, "the Goal is obtaining and the Consequence of not obtaining is that you won't obtain."

Rather, the Consequence of not Obtaining tends to be about Becoming or Changing one's Nature, as in, "if you don't obtain survival, you will become a corpse."

You will sometimes find it works better to reverse the Goal and Consequence, as in "you must become a different person (Goal), otherwise, you won't survive (Consequence) - you will lose possession of life. For instance, Rose in Titanic must become someone who is unconcerned with material wealth in order to survive the disaster.

Lots of stories work this way, where the main character must become someone different in order to obtain the goal. That's how you can connect the goal with the main character's inner conflict.

Another approach is to ask what survival means for various characters. Does it mean just to keep breathing, or does quality of life matter? Might some characters be satisfied if their children survive rather than they themselves? Might it be all right if their friends survive, or their company, or their tribe? Or do they want to be immortalized in art, or to leave a legacy? They could all be concerned with survival, but in very different ways.

Comments for Story Goal

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Sep 29, 2012
Timely and Concise!
by: Eric B

That totally answered my question! It seemed like an obvious answer, but I don't think I would have gotten to it without direction. Thank you a bunch, you got me over that issue.
5 stars and recommendations.

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