The Story Goal – The Key To Creating A Solid Plot Structure


Once you have decided on an appropriate inciting moment caused by a worthy antagonist, you have to decide what your protagonist is going to do about it. Your protagonist has to set a goal that he or she believes will solve the crisis. The protagonist’s goal is known as the story goal. This goal is the foundation of your plot.

Characters must have physical story goals.

For the purpose of plotting, you should not choose an abstract goal. Characters always have abstract story goals. We are always on journeys of self-discovery where we worry about our feelings. This is a given, but never let these become more important than physical goals with deadlines. If you do choose an abstract story goal, your character will spend too much time alone, thinking, and boring your readers.

Your story at its most basic

Before you start writing, complete this:

My novel is a story about  ______________________  (protagonist’s name)

who wants to ____________________________________  (ultimate physical story goal).

Remember that love is not a plot – it is an emotion

To recap from a previous post on story goals, wanting to find ‘love’ or ‘acceptance’ or ‘justice’ is not enough. When your character is loved, accepted or vindicated after achieving a physical goal, you have a story.

To define a physical story goal a character needs:
  1. to get something physical
  2. to cause something physical
  3. to escape something physical
  4. to resolve something physical
  5. to survive something physical

How do you know if your story goal is good enough to support your story?

Watch out for next Friday’s post, which includes 5 Criteria For Creating Successful Story Goals

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. 5 Criteria For Creating Successful Story Goals
  2. Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer
  3. 13 Ways To Start A Story