3. Goals and Getting Them, and Not Getting Them

3.    Give the protagonist a goal, then take it away. The goal-driven protagonist is an active protagonist, but if you just let the protagonist achieve his goal, you’ll have a linear or two-dimensional plot.  Have him lose the goal, or sacrifice it, or achieve it and realize he doesn’t really want it, and you’ll add the complication that makes this a real story.

Example: In Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has the goal of escaping from her boring Kansas farm and finding adventure. This goal impels her to take risks, meeting with the patent-medicine salesman (who later comes back as the Wizard) and daring the tornado to hurt her. She achieves her goal when the tornado whisks her off to the exotic land of Oz.  But just coming up with a goal and attaining it makes for a linear plot! Instead, once she achieves her goal, she realizes it's not truly what she wants, and she forms the new goal of getting back home to Kansas-- a considerably more difficult quest!

Your turn!  In the beginning of the story, what does your protagonist want to do or get? Think about why the character wants this goal, and what that indicates. Now should your character get the goal or not? Either way, what will the reader learn about this person from the getting or losing or sacrificing the goal?