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protagonist goal question!

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 :snowman3

I seem to be asking a lot of questions lately! A huge thanks for all of your opinions.

I'm stuck with a protagonist and their goal. Any guidance would be appreciated!

Goal: Joe, my protagonist (11 yrs. old) wants Dad to hang out with him like he used to before Dad's new job has taken up all of his time. And turn d him into a cranky beast.

Set up:

Joe goes on a camping trip for his bday with his mom and family friends, but his dad cannot accompany them , as his new job has an important deadline. Dad promises to come up the next day, but again, has to postpone due to work. Joe thinks of ways to interest his Dad in him, rather than his job and to spend time together like they used to.

problem: Right before my first plot point, Dad actually shows up! He even gives Joe a BDay gift! But his Dad is still distracted with job obligations and is constantly on his cell, cranky and not the 'old' Dad Joe misses. ultimately, Dad must leave, so Joe takes drastic measures to win back his dad, propelling his journey.

Am I allowed to have Dad even show up? This overworked, cranky Dad isn't the one Joe wants, but technically, does his Dad showing up mean Joe is achieving his goal? And way too soon?

Any insight would be great!  needing fresh eyes on this one!

#1 - December 05, 2017, 08:40 AM

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The dad who showed up isn't the dad Joe wanted, so I think you're fine. In fact, this scene can give greater depth to your story by giving Joe more to figure out. Kids tend to make things in life either right or wrong. This incident adds a gray area for Joe to deal with. If you let Joe feel a little of the pressure his dad is under, it might even set up more conflict for Joe, because he doesn't want to feel sorry for his dad. He wants to be totally mad. It can all give Joe more to think about and deal with.
#2 - December 05, 2017, 11:43 AM

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IMO, Dad needs to show up. If Dad is a cranky beast due to his new job, we have to see that onstage. It's not enough to have your MC tell the audience that Dad is a cranky beast.

Structurally, Dad is actually your MC's main opponent. So he's got to show up. The main opponent and the MC should actually want *the same goal*. Dad hints at his pursuit of that same goal by coming with a present. But showing up with a present -- perhaps something that's off, something that shows Dad isn't keeping up with how Joe is developing -- is a far cry from handing Joe his goal. Joe doesn't want a perfunctory or ill-suited present delivered by a cranky, distracted dad. He wants Dad. The wrong present, wrongly delivered, could show Joe just how far he is from his goal, making his problem feel worse to him.
#3 - December 05, 2017, 11:47 AM
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Agreeing with Pons and mrh. It's a good thing a cranky dad is showing up. Makes for more conflict. Harsh words can be exchanged. Doors slammed. Misunderstandings. Maybe kid will blame himself as many kids do that Dad isn't around much. Good luck writing and exploring the possibilities.
#4 - December 05, 2017, 12:44 PM
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THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

This has been amazingly helpful mrh, Pons and Vijaya! And the fact that you are all in agreement tells me a lot! You are all an amazing help and resource! Thanks so much for helping me and dedicating your own time to dig me out of a hole!!!

I will pass it on!
Jodi
#5 - December 05, 2017, 02:31 PM

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sorry I'm coming in late here, but are we talking a novel? If so, I think you may want to consider giving Joe a bigger main goal with much higher stakes. A young boy wanting to spend more time with his dad is certainly believable and understandable, and might be enough if Joe was 7 or 8.  But what's at stake for an 11 year old?  If things continue as before, Joe might continue to be disappointed ... but what else? What makes Joe's problem unique, dynamic and important enough to keep  readers glued to the page? I don't mean to be a downer, it's just that I've had this "high stakes" rule pounded into my head for so long I finally get it. Without high stakes editors will likely consider your plot "too quiet." Just my two cents  :flowers2
#6 - December 05, 2017, 06:10 PM
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sorry I'm coming in late here, but are we talking a novel? If so, I think you may want to consider giving Joe a bigger main goal with much higher stakes. A young boy wanting to spend more time with his dad is certainly believable and understandable, and might be enough if Joe was 7 or 8.  But what's at stake for an 11 year old?  If things continue as before, Joe might continue to be disappointed ... but what else? What makes Joe's problem unique, dynamic and important enough to keep  readers glued to the page? I don't mean to be a downer, it's just that I've had this "high stakes" rule pounded into my head for so long I finally get it. Without high stakes editors will likely consider your plot "too quiet." Just my two cents  :flowers2

I have to agree with this. When I read the plot above, I thought it was for a chapter book.
#7 - December 05, 2017, 08:00 PM

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Yes Dianna and Debbie!,  Totally agree here. More stakes up front are needed. More than simply Dad!!

thank you again, everyone!
#8 - December 06, 2017, 05:54 AM

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