Thursday, January 7, 2010
Thursday Thoughts - Objectives
I was going to title this post "Goals", but I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing about goals by now, so objectives works. This may end up being a longer post, so bear with me. What I want to discuss here is not MY personal objectives, but rather the objectives of my MC Trevor. I'm just about to the end of my NaNo WiP, and I want to check a few things:
1. Does my MC have a defined objective in mind at all points in the story? The objective does change many times throughout, but I want to make sure that he is working towards something.
2. Does he complete the objective (or realize that there is a need to change his direction, due to changing circumstances)?
3. Do the string of objectives make sense (i.e. do they follow a logical sequence of events)?
Starting out in the story, Trevor's main objective is to remain anonymous. He has to keep his true nature hidden from everyone around him, because if anyone found out who (or what) he really is, it could mean imprisonment or possibly death.
Then Trevor learns that everything is not as it seems. His father may not have been who Trevor thought he was. The world he lives in may be a terrible facade. And Trevor himself may very well be something beyond his wildest imagination. His objective has just changed to a search for the truth.
Here an abrupt switch occurs. Due to the accidental death of his mother (which Trevor is responsible for), he faces a harsh decision. He wants to find out the truth, but the time he has to seek it has just become compressed. Once the authorities find his mother's body, he will become hunted. It truly was an accident, but Trevor knows that won't matter. He now has two objectives - find out as much truth as he can about himself (quickly) and escape the city. Sure, the outside world is supposed to be a viral, poisonous wasteland, but Trevor has no other choice.
Racing against time, Trevor works with his friend Brent to find out what he can. Some answers are found, and a multitude of more questions arise. Enter the antagonist, and Trevor's objective of getting out of town has just become more important - and his escape less likely to succeed. As he rushes to the nearest exit, Trevor and Brent are captured by an underground society of religious fanatics who believe he is a figure of prophesy. His objectives have now become multi-faceted; find out what really happened to his father, find out the complete truth about what he is (and why his father designed him to be this way), figure out how to get back to the surface in one piece (not to mention his friend Brent). Oh, and find out more about this intoxicating beauty Mara, who is the spiritual leader of this undergound sect.
The search for truth has become primary now, because Trevor is hoping the answers he finds will answer all the questions he has. Deeper underground he finds the origins of humanity and more answers than he had hoped for. The truth is decidely ugly, and Trevor's objective now changes dramatically. He can either escape to the world outside the city and brave what may be a toxic environment. Or he can stay and rectify the wrongs being done to humanity by those in power. And of course there is Mara, the woman who leads the people living beneath the surface. During their short time together, he has come to realize how much she means to him as well. Leaving the city means leaving her behind or taking her with...and he knows she will never leave. His objective then is to help ALL the people, both above and below ground. In doing so, he will justify his existence, justify his father's reasons for defying society, and possibly win Mara's heart. Most of all, he will rectify a great wrong that has been forced upon humanity.
Making his way towards the surface once more with Mara, Trevor finds himself with another objective as well. Brent has been taken captive by the antagonist, to be tortured and dangled as a lure for Trevor. He and Mara have stumbled into a secretive gathering of people hiding in the sewers, a modern day thieves guild of sorts. They seem to have their own aims, but they're more than willing to help Trevor free Brent in exchange for helping them gain control of the city. Not really sure if he can trust these people, Trevor decides he has no other choice. A frontal assault results in Mara being injured (or possibly dead) and Trevor is forced to continue onward without her. There is an encounter with the antagonist, Trevor frees Brent, and they make their way back outside. He has no idea what has become of Mara, and chaos reigns.
This is where I am at this point, so now I need to outline Trevor's objectives going forward. He needs to get Brent somewhere safe, because his friend is barely walking thanks to the torture. He needs to find Mara (hopefully alive). The antagonist has gotten away, which Trevor cannot allow. He must find a way to bring the truth to light amidst the anarchy that now threatens the city. He has to stabilize a society that has become an explosion of chaos. And finally, he needs to give everyone (the above and below ground societies) a promising future rather than the evils they have been living with.
This has been a fun exercise, and if you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. It was long-winded, but necessary. Are there problems with this storyline? Big gaping holes that I need to tighten up? I don't think so, but feel free to point them out.
This story has taken twists and turns I did not expect at the outset, but I am proud of it so far. When was the last time you sat back and mapped out your storyline (particularly AFTER you've written it)? Do you know what your MC's objectives are?