Thursday, 14 April 2016

'G' is for Goals

Every character has a goal. 

(You mean every character should have a goal.)

Every character in anything that has ever gotten published has a goal.

(You mean every character in anything that has ever gotten published should have a goal.)


(I'm just saying, you lose marks when you make sweeping statements like that.)

And yet, when I'm writing essays, you curl up against the brain stem and never breathe a word to stop me. 

(You really think you need another distraction?)

Point taken. Ahem. It has taken me over a month to think of something for the letter 'g' that wasn't genre. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with genres, but there must be a million of them out there, and I've already done a post on fantasy, so goals it is.

A goal is something a character aims for. It could be something a character wants, or something a character needs. It could be tangible, or it could just be a feeling, like belonging or acceptance. 
Common character goals

To protect someone close to them

In The Hunger Games, all Katniss Everdeen wants is to keep her younger sister, Prim, safe.

Usually, I would class this as a motivation, the difference being that the goal is the what and the motivation is the why, but this is Katniss' sole reason for entering the games. She doesn't want fame or riches, just safety for her sister. When she yells, "I volunteer as tribute," her goal is to get the people from the Capitol away from her sister. It's the what just as much as it's the why.

To fix a past mistake

In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al want to return their bodies to the way they were before their mother's death drove them to a desperate alchemical act.


Shakespeare loved this character goal. From Hamlet to Titus Andronicus, many of his tragedies were about characters who were hellbent on vengeance.

The Shiny

Some characters are willing to risk their safety and freedom for rare items. In Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke first met Hiei and Kurama when they stole the artifacts of darkness. In the Chapter Black arc, Hiei is persuaded to lend Yusuke a hand only because Yusuke can help him get his hands on a video tape that he desires.

Of course, the rest of the cast were willing to help out of the goodness of their hearts, but Hiei has a facade to keep up. That, and shiny-loving characters can be rather selfish.

(That's because they know where it's at. Friendships wither and die, but shinies are immortal.)

If you start singing Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, I will evict you from my brain.


As in romantic love. Every Austen heroine ever wanted love (even if she thought she only wanted it for everyone else). Preferably love that came with riches. More recently, the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy gave Grace and Sam the goal of being together without pesky little things like cold weather getting in the way. It should be mentioned that characters with love as their sole motivation can be a little...we'll say irrational. 


In The Legion series, Kennedy desperately wants to be a Black Dove like Alara, Priest, Jared and Lukas. She starts out simply wanting to prove herself useful to them, and then decides that she wants to be one of them. In Kennedy's case, this isn't really a goal that she can work towards - she either is one or she isn't - but there are tasks that she can complete to find out.


Ever wondered why a lot of fantasy characters are orphans? In the beginning, this was all Harry Potter wanted. A loving family. Friends. A place that he could call home. Sure, eventually he had to beat a noseless nutjob to keep it but, back when he was just the orphan under the stairs, dark wizards weren't exactly the first thing on his mind. 


Some characters just want to get away. Nathan from the Half Bad trilogy wanted to escape the authorities that had oppressed and abused him. Margo, from Paper Towns, was looking to escape societal expectations. Did they succeed? Well, that would be telling...

Can you think of any more character goals?