Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How to Use a Story's End to Help You Write the Beginning

Character Goals Are Evident From the Very Beginning

When you enter a race, what's the goal? To finish, to get a certain time, or to win? It could be any or all of these. But if you enter the race, you're going to have a goal.

Same thing with a novel. Your character has to have a goal. There are both needs and wants. There are character goals and story goals. Sometimes it may be one in the same, but usually not. In Wonder Woman, she wanted to end the war, but she needed to find love. Ending the war was the story goal - the want. Finding love was the character goal - the need.

How to Write the Beginning with the End in Mind || christiewrightwild.com

The Character Goal vs. Need

Start with the end in mind! In Wonder Woman, Diana wanted to end the war. Since that was going to be the end, we know that she had to be challenged in the beginning - with her questions about who she was and who her father was. She spent her whole life training physically as a warrior. That was her status quo. Fighting. It was part of who she was and part of how she would be able to reach the end.

But ultimately, she also had to find love to truly end the war. It was what gave her the real inner strength to end the war of all wars. It was what was needed to help her grow.

Your Character Needs to Have a Goal

If your main character's goal it to feel loved, then you also need a story goal. Feeling loved is the character's need. The story goal then becomes the character's want. What is your character good at? Bad at? How could your MC be challenged? What would they succeed in?

In Moana, the story goal was to save her village and restore health to the island. That is what Moana wanted to do. When she "Gunshot" happened, she set off into the ocean to obtain her goal - her want.

But Moana also had a need. She needed to find her own identity. This need was the character goal. When she became humble enough to listen to her grandmother and her own heart, she discovered who she truly was and what she was capable of becoming - a master Wayfinder. This is what she needed to reach her goal, the story goal, of restoring the heart Te Fiti, so that her village could have fish again and thrive once more.

Your Character Dictates the Plot

The four fundamentals of a novel are character, plot, conflict, and theme. The character is what all the other elements hinge from. The characters actions and reactions dictate the plot. The wants, needs, and goals dictate the conflict, and the ending - how all the conflict is resolved - dictates the theme based on the character's needs and wants and how he or she changed in order to reach those goals.

Ask yourself the following questions.
  1. What does my character want? (This is the story goal.)
  2. What does my character need to do or change in order to reach the want? (This is the character goal, which they probably don't realize.)
  3. How can my character be challenged to make reaching the want harder? (This is the conflict.)
  4. What will my character learn as a result of fulfilling the need? (This is the theme.)

What is YOUR MC's want (story goal)? Share in the comments!

Outline Your Novel:
Learn How to Study Books and Movies So You Can
Map Out a Basic Plot For Your Own Novel

Keep on keepin' on...


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