Story Goal/Consequences

by Tracee


Thanks for posting such great information. My character's mom died during child birth and he never knew his father. Is it a strong enough story goal for him to want to find his father because he (my protagonist) wants to know where or how he belongs in the world? And that he is afraid of dying without knowing? Or do I need a stronger consequence? I'm a bit flummoxed. I really didn't want to go with something as dire (or seemingly cliche) as needing medical assistance.

Answer: Yes, I think you could use that as a goal. The challenge is how to illustrate the consequence of never finding out - not knowing where he comes from.

I can't tell you what to write (it's your job), but what you may need is a way to illustrate the consequence in a tangible, physical way. Perhaps you can present an event that shows how he does not fit in with his peers or adopted family, and therefore with his environment. The implied consequence may be that this situation will continue or worsen over time. Hence, he tries to find his real father to see where in the world he does fit.

You could also give him an example of another character in a similar situation who suffers because of it, but I think the primary thing is to establish his feeling of being at odds with the world that stems from dysfunctional relationships.

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Jan 26, 2013
Story Goal/Consequences
by: Tracee

Thanks Glen!

You're pretty awesome. BTW, last week I purchased and completed "Dancing on the Inside." Loved it! I've already recommended it to two friends: both are teachers at great private schools and one is a YA author! You should really think about doing this writing thing for a living. ;-)

My initial idea was to start with him leaving his hometown, already in the train station. (I was obsessed with Amtrak when I was young and always thought it would be cool to open a book/film in a station.) His backstory is he was raised by his mom's older sister. But she had 2 kids and a brute of a husband who was never keen on adding a 3rd mouth to the clan. So I considered doing a couple of flashbacks (I know, tricky, right?) to illustrate the very point that he didn't fit in with his adopted family.

When he arrives to his new town he actually happens upon a pretty glitzy career that adds a new goal and introduces his antagonist. All the while he will still search for his dad. I started the outline but started to wonder if I didn't have enough consequences for not finding his father right away. This was the impetus for posting the question in the first place.

I'm not sure if I'm complicating things for myself, but that is my vision.

Oh boy...

Jan 26, 2013
by: Glen

Aha! Now you're adding a new layer that makes me suspect that finding his father is his personal concern - the source of his inner conflict - while the actual story goal is the one involving the antagonist.

Remember that the story goal is the one that involves or affects most of the characters, especially the protagonist and antagonist who are in conflict over it. The protagonist pursues it while the antagonist tries to prevent or avoid it. The Consequence is the terrible thing that will happen if the story goal is not achieved.

The main character's concern is the area where his inner conflict stems from. How he resolves his inner conflict will determine whether he ultimately makes the right choice to achieve the story goal. The fact that he doesn't fit in with his aunt's family will be the source of his inner drive.

The point is to keep the reader guessing. We don't know how he will resolve his inner conflict until his personal climax, which means we don't know if he will make the right choice to achieve the story goal - until it happens.

P.S. Glad you enjoyed my book. Best of luck with this story.

Jan 26, 2013
by: Tracee

Thank you. That helps me and I was able to re-work the opening because of your feedback. I've made some adjustments to the first third of the outline. Onward...

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