Monday, June 14, 2010

Ticks and Goals

As I tried to come up with an interesting topic to blog about today, my husband said I should write about ticks. He met a few of the tiny creatures recently on a camping trip. Yuck! Not everything about the outdoors is great.

What kept niggling in my mind, though, was a problem I've seen when working with unpublished writers. Character goals. Too many times rookie writers overlook the importance of goals.

To us who have been writing a while, setting character goals is second nature. We understand there is no story without compelling characters, challenges, and goals characters set to meet the challenges presented to them.

For example, in my recent release STOLEN SON, the hero learns a year after his wife's death his son was kidnapped and the subsequent adoption was done illegally. He resolves to get to know the birth mother and, if she's a good woman, to tell her what happened to her stolen son. This character has a goal.

Character goals can and often do change throughout a story, sometimes several times. Using STOLEN SON as an example again, by the time the hero learns the birth mother is indeed a good woman who can be trusted to care for his beloved son, he's fallen in love with her. (Yes, it's a complicated, compelling story.) His goal at this point is more a wish than anything he could reasonably hope to achieve. He wants to continue a relationship with the heroine once he discloses the truth. He wishes to be able to have an in-tact family with the birth mother, their son and himself. Yet how could she possibly want anything to do with him once she learns of his connection to her kidnapped boy? (It's VERY complicated.)

Goals from popular movies/books include: A public officer vows to kill the shark terrorizing his community. (Jaws) A disinherited son resolves to get his share of the estate left to his autistic brother. (Rain Man) A woman promises she can make a man fall for her and then lose him within ten days. (How to lose a guy in 10 days)

As is seen in these examples, without the goals, there are no stories.

Goals--we need them in stories, and it doesn't hurt to have a few in life! I met one today by completing this blog.

Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes on accomplishing your goals today!

Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

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