Alphabet Challenge Day 7 (mark two)

It’s day seven of my alphabet blogging challenge. I know I pronounced that yesterday, but I was WRONG, as some of you pointed out. Yesterday was day six and today is day seven. If I’m befuddled at this stage, what am I going to be like by the end of September? And that is  a rhetorical question!

Okay, day seven.

The letter is G

and the topic is GOAL

Modern life seems to be all about to-do lists and achieving. You have to have priorities; you need aims;  you must have goals, so we’re told.

Often goals are set for us by parents, or teachers,  and later on by those above us at work. Before you even get the job, the interviewing panel are likely to ask, ‘Where do you want to be in five years?’

Sometimes your partner in life might set goals: ‘We’ve got to set aside an evening a week to spend together.’ Or you might set goals for yourself: you  want to lose weight, or run in the London Marathon next year, or trek through the Amazon rainforest.

But more often than not, I suspect, most of us are happy to get to the end of the day, the end of the book we’re reading, the end of the bottle. Realistically, our goals are few. Human nature being disposed towards apathy and procrastination, the majority of us tend to drift.

However, such sloppiness in not good enough for characters in fiction. An essential part of their raison d’être  is a goal. It might be big or small, but it has to exist and it has to be thwarted. The character must have something they WANT, and something must stop them getting it.

There’s a cliché that you only find out what people are really like in a crisis. If that’s partly true in real life, it’s completely true in fiction. Characters have to face conflict and through that, change – of some kind – occurs.

So, here are a few characters and their goals – what conflict would you put in their way:

  • Jodie is a forty-year old architect who is fed up drawing  plans for modern boxes and wants to design something exciting and innovative.
  • Fliss is twenty-five. She’s been saving in secret for a trip to Australia because she thinks her biological father lives there.
  • Josh was involved in a major car accident. His left leg has been amputated above the knee. He makes his mind up to compete in the paralympics in Rio.

Character + motivation or goal + conflict = plot. Easy!

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8 Comments

  1. polly says:

    I really like this post Lindsay, so clear and concise ~ and I can quite see how using characters and their goals plus conflict leads to plot.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Glad you like the post, Polly. I wrote it with minutes to spare before September 8th ran out, so if it works at all, I’m delighted!

  3. Christine says:

    Well done for getting this posted with 6 minutes to spare. I enjoyed it too although I would just say it is never my goal to reach the end of the bottle! As Polly said, clear and concise. It never hurts to be reminded of what it takes to make a story work. Well done, take the rest of the day off!

  4. Lindsay says:

    Agree, Christine. My goal is to keep the bottle going, not get to the end of it!

    Until the last minute, my ‘g’ word was going to be genre, and then I ran out of time. Glad you got something from ‘goal’.

  5. Helen says:

    Well done for achieving your Goal for day 7 of the blogging challenge. Pretty impressive under the circumstances! It’s true that to do lists are a key feature of modern life. There is one for work and at least one for home and they grow long, largely because things not on the list get forgotten what with memory becoming more unreliable as the years pass. And most frustrating is the tendency to do things that are not on the list with the accompanying temptation to add them just for the satisfaction of crossing them off! The plot formula is excellent and like all formulas (should that be formulae?) probably appears much easier than it is. Already wondering what H tomorrow will bring …

  6. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Helen. Day 7 of blogging challenge accomplished (albeit by the skin of my teeth) and still a long way to go. I am also wondering about H!

    I suppose the difference between the to-do lists/goals in real life is that they’re disparate and often unconnected. In fiction, a character’s goals need more focus and cause and effect play an important part.

  7. Christine says:

    And most frustrating is the tendency to do things that are not on the list with the accompanying temptation to add them just for the satisfaction of crossing them off!

    Hi Helen – this made me laugh because I thought I was the only person who does that! I console myself with the thought that it should have been on the list in the first place and so adding it on once it’s done is acceptable practice!

  8. Lindsay says:

    I’m inclined to add things to the list even though I’ve done them because it’s so satisfying to cross them off!

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