Too common a story goal?
Question: I have the main character who finds out that her and 9 other kids have powers and are going on a quest (not sure yet). Every idea I come up with for what they need to do seems like another author has done. (Ex. find where they came from, escape people trying to run tests on them, etc.) Is there something new that I can have them do for the plot?Answer:
There are always new possibilities for story goals. And yet, at the same time, virtually all story goals fall into one of 16 categories (according to dramatica theory).
What you might do is take a look at each category in turn and brainstorm many different possibilities for each. Give yourself plenty of time for this. Then leave your list alone for a day or more before you go back and circle the most promising options. Gradually narrow it down to the one idea that excites you the most.
Below are the 16 categories. Bear in mind there are many possible meanings for each.External actions:
1. Obtaining: gaining, giving up, or depriving someone else of something such as a physical object, a job, a title, a prize, status, power, money, or freedom.
2. Gathering Information/Learning/Finding Out something. For example, mysteries where one must find out "who-done-it" or how they did it. Getting information to someone, depriving someone of information.
3. Doing: Performing some physical task, starting something, disrupting, creating, fighting, or operating. Stopping someone from doing something, or getting someone to do something.
4. Understanding: Coming to a new recognition of the meaning or significance of something, getting others to understand or fail to understand.External States:
5. The Past: Re-evaluating the past, preventing the past from repeating, no longer being burdened by the past.
6. How things are Changing/Progress: Changing the direction things are moving in, altering a process, slowing things down, speeding things up, overcoming inertia, giving in to a process.
7. The Future: Creating a particular future, finding out what the future holds, giving someone else a future.
8. The Present: Changing the present state of affairs, accepting how things are.Internal Actions (Psychology, Manipulation):
9. Developing a Plan: coming up with a plan or vision of what must be done, or failing to do so. Stopping someone from making plans.
10. Playing a role/Being: assuming a position or title, pretending to be someone you're not, mistaken identity, getting a new job, losing a position, tricking/conning someone, disguise, mimicking, taking on a new identity. Making someone take on a role.
11. Changing One's Nature/Becoming: giving up aspects of oneself in order to become a different person, transforming, becoming something different. Getting someone else to change.
12. Conceiving an Idea: Coming to a realization, getting people to see you differently, having an insight.Internal States/Fixed Attitude:
13. Memory: remembering, forgetting, being remembered or forgotten.
14. Impulsive Responses/Conditioning: controlling or changing how one responds, conquering a phobia, training oneself to respond correctly to a situation, improving one's reflexes, mastering one's emotions.
15. Innermost Desires: getting in touch with one's true self, realizing what one truly wants or doesn't want, surrendering to one's deep desires.
16. Contemplation: learning to weigh issues differently, being unable to consider the consequences, being considerate.
Note: Obtaining is the most common story goal, but as you can see, there are lots of other possibilities.