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First chapter goal

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While editing today, it dawned on me that my character doesn't have a strong enough goal in the first chapter. Then I thought back on my other books and realized that my first chapter is weak in that regard. Not that there isn't a goal at all it's just that it seems not quite right. I know goals change as the story progresses and the story goal isn't even on the radar quite yet. But what goal should the character have in the first chapter when there's already so much going on with establishing the story? Or should the character goal in the first chapter be related to their current situation which quickly gets shattered because book, story, fiction? *catches breath* I hope that makes sense.

PS, I don't have betas or critique partners currently.
#1 - December 20, 2017, 10:39 AM

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Hi Laura,
I think you are right about possibility of a sub/faux goal in the first chapter. A lot of goals change with the enticing event and/or plot points in your story, but I do think your protagonist should have some defined goal (ie, make money cleaning yards, be the cool kid at school for once, enter a contest for a prize, save xxxx from xxxx, etc) .  It can definitely change as your character changes too.
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#2 - December 20, 2017, 10:59 AM

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The first chapter has a big job with a hint of the story question about the characters who need to be compelling. Reader has to care from the beginning to keep turning the pages. I don't think you have to have the main goal in Chap 1. but you need something that propels the character into the story--an inciting incidence.

Have you read Hooked by Les Edgarton? It's an excellent book to study and put into practice. Happy reading and writing.
#3 - December 20, 2017, 12:12 PM
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I just wanted to add that there is no harm in having the story goal/main goal in chapter one. The key is to make the reader want to keep reading.
#4 - December 20, 2017, 09:00 PM
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The first chapter has a big job with a hint of the story question about the characters who need to be compelling. Reader has to care from the beginning to keep turning the pages. I don't think you have to have the main goal in Chap 1. but you need something that propels the character into the story--an inciting incidence.

Have you read Hooked by Les Edgarton? It's an excellent book to study and put into practice. Happy reading and writing.

I'll have to look into Hooked. Thanks for the recommendation.
#5 - December 21, 2017, 08:11 AM

I just wanted to add that there is no harm in having the story goal/main goal in chapter one. The key is to make the reader want to keep reading.

True. I'm thinking I might need to bring the main goal in the first chapter. Thanks.
#6 - December 21, 2017, 08:13 AM

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The feedback above is spot-on. You need to have someone and something  readers will not want to put down because they care about it, though the main goal can be revealed (to the character or to the reader) later. Making us care about the character and what will happen next is most easily achieved by having the main goal evident right of the bat, but it isn't the only way.
#7 - December 21, 2017, 11:55 AM
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It's a good idea to try to put the inciting incident, something that causes a change, in the first or second chapter.
#8 - December 22, 2017, 09:04 AM
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It's a good idea to try to put the inciting incident, something that causes a change, in the first or second chapter.

I usually try to have that happen by the end of the first or at least give a really strong  hint that poo is about to hit the fan. lol
#9 - December 24, 2017, 09:23 AM

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