Write Better Fiction: Point of View Character Goal

Feedback iconToday on Write Better Fiction we’ll cover the Goal of your Point of View Character. Write Better Fiction is a process to help you critique your own manuscript and give yourself feedback. This will help you improve your novel, so you’re ready to submit it to an editor. Check the bottom of this post for links to previous Write Better Fiction articles.

Last week I wrote about naming a scene. This week I’ll cover the goal of the point of view character. Each scene will have a point of view character, and we discussed this in #1 question to ask yourself about plot. ADD LINK

The point of view (POV) character must have a goal. Without a goal, what’s the point?

There are two types of goals:

Internal: The reader isn’t told what the POV goal is.

External: The reader clearly understands what the POV goal is.

Each POV character should have an overall novel goal. The most important goals should belong to your protagonist and antagonist. Of course, these goals should oppose each other.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 1.28.11 PMThe overall goal drives the character throughout the novel. In DESCENT, Kalin Thompson’s external goal is to find out who killed an Olympic-caliber skier. She has an internal goal that drives her through the first three novels in The Stone Mountain Mystery series, which I can’t share or it would ruin the mystery, but it’s there and influences how I write.

Finding a murderer is Kalin’s main goal throughout DESCENT. She also has goals within each scene where she holds the point of view. In the opening scene her external goal is to go skiing. Her internal goal is to be good at her job. Both goals will be tested very early in the story.

The reader doesn’t know about the internal goal, but it helped me create a focus and drive for Kalin in the next few chapters.

Other characters might have a goal in the scene. In fact, they should and it should be in conflict with the POV goal. This is a different column in the spreadsheet that we’ll talk about later.

Your challenge this week is to review each scene in your novel and determine what are the internal and external goals of each POV character. This will also focus you on the who has POV and give you another opportunity to check you’re consistent with the POV and that you’re not head hopping (unless it’s intentional). Please let me know in the comments if this helped you write better fiction.

I critiqued DESCENT and BLAZE using the techniques I’m sharing in Write Better Fiction, and I believe this helped me sign with a publisher.

Previous blog posts on Write Better Fiction:

Please me know in the comments below how you deal with the goal of your POV characters? Did you have difficulty defining a clear scene goal?

Thanks for reading…


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