The "Collective" Goal
By Melanie Anne Phillips

creator StoryWeaver, co-creator Dramatica

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Some writers become so wrapped up in interesting events and bits of action that they forget to have a central unifying goal that gives purpose to all the other events that take place. This creates a plot without a core.  For a story to have a message, it is essential that the readers or audience are completely clear on what the goal is at the heart of all the hubbub.


But determining your story's goal can be difficult, especially if your story is character oriented, and not really about a Grand Quest.  In such cases, there is no single goal everyone is competing to achieve (such as winning the love of a particular prince or princess), but rather everyone is trying to win the love of their own special someone.


Such a story definitely has a goal: to find happiness in a relationship. But the object of that desire is not the exact same person.  This type of goal is called a Collective Goal since it is not about trying to achieve the same thing, but the same KIND of thing.


Trying to impose a single unifying goal on such a story is a bad fit and will come across as stilted and artificially imposed.  Using a collective goal can be far more organic and play to the passions of the piece, such as in ensemble stories where the desire is to elevate a number of characters, not just the main character.


Bottom line: Every story needs a goal to pull the plot together and provide a focus for the message.  But considering the goal for your story, don't feel obligated to impose a contrived central goal if a collective goal is more appropriate.


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