We’ve discussed the idea of Character, Conflict, and Goal as the building blocks of your story before.
If you’re like me, you’d probably ask yourself, “but where do I go from here?”
The first step is spending some time self-reflecting and determining what the character, conflict and goal elements of your story are, but once you’ve got an idea of what those are, how do you move forward in writing your story? The answer is a matter of asking yourself the right questions and beginning to order events in your mind as a story. The story structure of Character, Conflict and Goal gives you the pieces of the puzzle that you will use when you begin to put things together.
When you think of any story, true or fictional, that you’ve encountered in your life, it typically follows an arc. It begins with a description of the character as they are at the beginning of the story (personality, description of their life conditions and overall life situation). At some point, a goal is established for the character and the audience comes to understand why the goal is important to the character. Something inspires the character to pursue that goal, and whatever that is, is called the inciting incident. The action of the story has now begun. From here, the character is on their way in the pursuit of their goal, but of course, an obstacle (conflict) prevents them in some way from reaching their goal. The character overcomes that conflict somehow. From here, the character may overcome any number of new and difficult conflicts, until eventually, the character reaches their goal. In many stories, you tend to learn at the end what the status quo looks like post-goal attainment for the character.
You can clearly see how Character, Conflict, and Goal are embedded into a story arc. Now that we’ve briefly run through what it looks like, let’s break down the steps, in order, in a “cheat sheet” format for when you’re writing your story:
- Define your character using descriptive details. What is your background? What do you value?
- Describe what your goal is and how you discovered that goal.
- Describe what made you decide to actually pursue your goal.
- Now that you’re pursuing your goal, what obstacles are in your way, preventing you from achieving that goal?
- What did you do to overcome those obstacles?
- If you’ve achieved your goal, how did you do it? If you haven’t achieved it yet, where are you in your journey to reach it?
- What does your life look like now that you’ve accomplished your goal?
- What does the future hold?
And of course, include lots of description.The more detail and the richer the account of your experiences, the more compelling the story is. This is a very basic way to chart out your story for the first time.
If you sit down and write out these situations for yourself, with you as the main character, you will have your story written. It seems daunting at first, but if you break it down with these steps, your authentic story will flow.
What’s your story? We'd love for you to share it with us in the comments below!