My Goals, My MC's Goals, and My Bad Guy's Goals

Can you smell that? Yes, it's only the 8th and already the scent of broken resolutions is heavy in the air.

Okay, okay, sorry. That's a little too much pessimism this early into the new year. I haven't broken any resolutions or forgotten any goals (yet). In fact, I'm well on my way to being able to split firewood.
(Go ahead and laugh. I probably won't hear you from where I'm sitting.)

One of my writing goals is to give myself two "pure" writing hours a day--and by "pure" I mean the kind of writing where I'm not jumping back and forth between Scrivener and Twitter. The kind where, if I'm stuck on a scene, I turn to brainstorming on a piece of paper instead of clicking through three games of Spider solitaire.

But I also want to talk about character goals--what do my characters want? And more importantly, why? Donald Maass has some great exercises for exploring character goals and motivations in his Writing the Breakout Novel: Workbook. One of my favorites is to list a few reasons why your character wants what she wants, and then, when you're through, seeing if you can take the last reason and turn it into the primary reason. I have no idea why this works so often for me, but when it does work, the results are stunning.

Sometimes the hardest character goal for me to work with is my antagonist's goal. For NaNoWriMo last year, I completely forgot about the antagonist's goals because I'd only had a few days to plan, and the antagonist wasn't clear in my mind. It has only been through revision that I'm able to make it more complex than "because I want to take over the world, Pinky."

So, how about you? Writing goals? Non-writing goals? What have you got? Splitting firewood? Plans for world domination? Remember--there's power in writing it down.


Writing the Breakout Novel is a fantastic resource! It helps to think outside the box. The antagonist's motivations can be hard to figure out but it really makes a difference when it's the clear the bad guy has a plausible, even understandable motive - as long as it doesn't overshadow the hero's!

Yes, agreed! Yet that pesky antagonist goal still remains one of the biggest challenges in my writing. Maybe this will be the year I finally figure out that balance!

I really applaud your 'pure' writing days resolution! It's so easy to let real world distractions have a louder voice than one's characters'.

I am throwing a bag over the 2-hours-writing-a-day goal and absconding with it, kick and scream as it might. I have an hour and that's simply not enough. Also cutting out much social media, which makes me a very quiet presence in the virtual world.

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