The Importance of the Goal

in The Craft of Writing

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because instead of paying attention in English class, I was flirting with Federico, the foreign exchange student from Argentina.

I learned something about myself and my writing style recently. As you may know, my normal approach to writing is to have a kernel of an idea: Protagonist: Bree, Antagonist: Michel Ledroit, Love interest: Richard Hambecker. In the case of a series – like the Bree MacGowan mysteries, I have a jumping off place. Then I sit down and let the story flow through my fingers. Sometimes it’s lovely, sometimes it’s torture.

I’ve been slogging through the latest Bree. I picked up on an idea someone else gave me. A perfectly reasonable idea, although a little dark for Bree, and I just couldn’t make it work. It didn’t have any life for me. Not the fault of the person who gave me the idea, it just wasn’t working for me. I fretted and fumed and finally asked a group of writers I was taking a class with if they could make a suggestion.

They gave me several excellent suggestions, but the one that really made the difference for me was “your protagonist needs a concrete goal. Something she wants/needs/must achieve. The antagonist is trying to make it impossible for her to reach that goal.” (Paraphrasing here.)

Five minutes later I had the goal. It wasn’t the goal Jenny suggested, but that doesn’t matter. It was Bree’s goal, and it made sense. Her brother was getting married, and Bree has to make that wedding regardless of if she’s on the run from the Mob or not. And what if only those couples who are married under the huppah made for her great, great, great grandma have marriages that last? And what if Bree had to bring that huppah?


All of a sudden the possibilities flowed into my head. Here was a story that could be funny and tragic. It was high stakes for Bree. It was what I needed to make the story flow. I threw out the 30,000 words I’d already written and started over. I’m so glad I did. Writing this story is fun. My brain is zipping along, ideas flashing into place as I write.

All over a goal. A concrete, positive, must have a goal. Now I understand what I have to do with Glimmer Girls as well. Bree first because she’s flowing – and is the bread and butter. Then Clara and Dilly in Glimmer Girls.

Good Lord. I hope I can get these done before I have to start to look for another day job!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Judy, Judy, Judy July 31, 2013 at 4:49 am

I hope you can get them done before you have to start to look for another day job, too.
The Bree book sounds G.O.O.D.


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