Switching Story Goals

by Tyler
(De Pere, WI, USA)

Question: Is it okay for your main character to switch their main story goal halfway through the story or does that lead to an unsatisfying story?

Answer: The story goal does not change throughout the course of a story, but that doesn't mean the characters always know what the real story goal is at first. A main character may be preoccupied with an apparent goal, only to later on discover the real goal that is hidden underneath. (The real goal will be the one that is decisively determined at the climax. It is also the goal that affects/involves most characters.)

In other stories, the goal may be something vague like, "finding a home." Each of the characters may pursue this goal in a different way. Some may build a home, some may move back home, some may find that home is where their friends are, some may find that home is wherever they are, etc. Again, the climax will be when the main character does something that determines the outcome.

Sometimes, only the reader recognizes what the real goal is, because the characters are too caught up in their individual aims to see the big picture. Only the reader sees whether the story is a success or failure.

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