Once a month I meet with a small group of local indie authors. Just before this last time, I’d gotten a new carpet in my office, which had inspired me to get rid of a lot of stuff that I wasn’t using. I had a HUGE bag of cords from various devices that I gave to my cousin. I also had a stack of books on writing that I brought for my writer friends. We normally don’t talk about the craft of writing – we’re usually all about the business of writing. But as we walked to our table, the conversation turned to love as a character goal. I said that I don’t read books where the heroine’s goal is love. I like a meatier goal.
One of the authors disagreed, then she said she didn’t know why, as she’d never written a book with a goal for her character to fall in love. The other authors said the same thing. It’s just an insipid goal for me. It doesn’t compel me. I like a character to want something badly. Or to need something badly. We all need or want love. I think that’s a given. But as a goal, it’s not enough to drive a story.
Even in fairy tales, the goal isn’t really finding the prince. In Cinderella, her goal was getting away from her mean stepmother and stepsisters. The prince has a tiny part in the story. And I’ve said before that my favorite fairy tale is Puss in Boots. No love goals there. Just finding a really nice piece of real estate to live – and doing whatever you can to get the deal. The same reason that HGTV is one of my favorite channels.
Perhaps because my mother was widowed with five young children, the goals of my main characters in my contemporary romances are often finding a home, starting a business, a career, something to do with money (and pets!). Sometimes just survival. And if you look at this summer’s movies, it seems like we have a lot of super characters saving the world or our civilization. What can be more important than that?
One of my favorite movies is Love Actually. There are quite a few love stories in this movie, but I can think of only one that stemmed from the goal to find a love interest (and I think his goal wasn’t love but to find attractive women to shag). And I just remembered that the boy in the movie had love as a goal. So there was one true love goal.
Anyone know which two characters I’m talking about? What are your favorite character goals?