Writing Wednesday–Character Goals
To give myself some kind of structure around here, I’ve decided that Wednesday posts shall be (loosely) writing related. Otherwise, this whole blog will be nothing but squeeing about books I’ve read and loved and reminders to watch cool shows. (Speaking of which…GLEE on tonight!)
I spend a lot of time thinking about goals. Not just my personal ones, but the ones my characters have.
Everybody wants something. That’s one of the basic tenets of Debra Dixon’s brilliant Goal, Motivation and Conflict theory/way of thinking.
People have external goals–something they’re trying to achieve that can be seen or recognized through the senses. Completing a 5k run, for example.
They also have internal or emotional goals, which they may or may not be aware of–wanting to be loved or accepted or independent, etc. I want to make Dad proud of me, for example.
It occurs to me today (and I could very well be having a belated realization based on Dixon’s GMC work as I’ve practically absorbed it into my subconscious by now through so many re-readings) to wonder if there’s a kind of causal connection between the internal goal and the external goal.
In other words, if someone is aware of the internal goal or need, do they consciously seek out external goals they believe will also meet their internal goal/need?
In other words:
If you have a character who is, for example, seeking acceptance or reassurance of being accepted, does said character then have an external goal of being elected Homecoming Queen? If I become Homecoming Queen, then that’s proof that I’m accepted.
Or, if a character wants to prove his independence (internal), perhaps his (external) goal is to climb Mt. Everest alone or something.
My trouble is I usually know what someone’s external goal is first, and working backwards isn’t as easy. There can be any number of internal (emotional) goals driving the establishment of an external goal.
For example, our mountain climber could be doing this to express his independence or he could be doing it to find inner peace, escaping the trouble and heartache of his life. The two would work out to be completely different stories with the same external goal for the main character.
What do you think? Are internal and external goals connected? Should they be?