Saving The Cat…Or Trying To…Part 2

Take a deep breath guys…this post is a bit rambly (I’m gathering my thoughts) and very link happy lol…click away though, they’re all very useful 🙂

This months Save The Cat homework is to come up with your hero’s goal, which is to be inserted into the log line.

As writers we are told that your main character has to have a goal and that said MC has to achieve that by the end of the novel (or do they?).

Ive done workshops with Mr Jones of How To Do Everything & Be Happy so what i don’t know about goals now, aint worth knowing! 😉 (can highly recommend that book by the way). So i Googled the “top ten” goals for people in the UK and came across this Daily Mail article, which lists the following as the top ten goals for us Brits.






But according to Mr Snyder our characters goals have to be primal and something our reader can relate to. Is the desire to own a pet a strong enough goal for a fictional character? Probably not lol (possibly ok for a short story though, but a whole novel?)…Back to Google and the discovery of Manfred Max Neef who came up with a list of Fundamental Human Needs. He concluded that us humans have 9 basic needs:

  1. Subsistence
  2. Protection
  3. Affection
  4. Understanding
  5. Participation
  6. Leisure
  7. Creation
  8. Identity
  9. Freedom

Yeah, ok, so my characters goal/desire has to be so strong that he/she is prepared to go to any length to get it. The characters goal drives the novel and, for the reader, is that edge of the seat will they won’t they question that keeps them turning the page. Ok, i get that…

Writer AJ Humpage on her blog narrows it down to the following simple methods:

Character Goal/objective → a purpose → the obstacle → overcoming obstacle = fulfilment of goal (Creating Character Goals)


Goal = motivation = conflict = overcoming problems = resolution, goal achievement and character change. (Do Characters Need Goals?)

Bloody hell…so now i know what I’m supposed  to be doing, I’ve just got to do it lol. I don’t think my characters goals in the previous novels I’ve written have been strong enough….whoops!

So what would happen say, if by the end of your novel, your character hadn’t achieved their goal? Would that just make for a boring book? And is the goal really the main plot? Do characters in literary fiction have clearly defined goals? Questions questions…this one will keep me awake at night for days lol

I think i’ll just stick to romance, thats easy…guy wants girl, girl wants guy…simples! lol 😉

How in-depth do you go when you are trying to establish a characters goal?




6 thoughts on “Saving The Cat…Or Trying To…Part 2

  1. I have problem with goals. Especially the internal/external goal combination. I think the trick is just to make what will happen terrible to the character at the least. I read a book once about someone who was afraid to go outside, and it was built up so well that even though it is something that most people don’t think about you really felt like the world had the whole potential to come falling down. *amn. I wish I could remember what that book was.


    • Thanks honey 🙂

      Ooooo, yeah, let me know if you remember, it sounds really interesting.

      But thats a good example of a goal that most people wouldn’t be able to relate to. “What do you mean you’re too scared to go outside, just do it!” would be many peoples attitudes.



  2. I don’t think a character needs to achieve all their goals or do it in the way they imagined, but the reader might feel cheated if they didn’t come close to reaching them.


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