Goals and changing goals...



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  • Goals and changing goals...

    What is the rule with goals changing mid screenplay ?

    For instance, if you're characters external goal is to quit his life of crime, but then learns his father was murdered, and let's say he pursues vengeance, and in order to do so, must delve deeper into the crime underworld. (this is not an actual screenplay, so please forgive the rough nature of this example)
    1. does the revelation need to happen by the midpoint? before the 2nd act starts? eh?
    2. Do a lot of screenplays deal with changing and/or evolving goals? Does goal changing work well? As long as the goal is higher stakes?
    3. Which changes more often, the external or the internal goal? can it be both?

    Any tips?

  • #2
    1. It really depends on what the character is doing. In your example, if the character is first trying very hard to bring the murderer to justice through legal channels, gets frustrated and then realizes he must "delve deeper into the crime underworld" then that could be a mid-point event. On the other hand if the character is spending most of the story "delve(ing) deeper into the crime underworld" then it's a Act I setup.

    That's up to you.
    Higher stakes and/or a greater good.

    3. Typically the internal goal remains the same and the external resolution changes.


    • #3
      Most scripts are structured with a series of mini goals that must be accomplished in order to achieve the overarching primary goal. In many scripts the overarching objective goal is achieved by the end of act two but the overarching subjective goal is not achieved until the end of the third act.

      Look at Star Wars.

      Luke has many goals ranging from joining the Rebels to finding R2D2 to hiring a ship to escaping the Death Star to rescuing the Princess to destroy the Death Star. The various sequences are unified by the various goals Luke has. All these goals combine to help advance Luke's quest for his overarching objective goal of delivering the Death Star plans to the Rebels, which he achieves at the end of act II. His overarching subjective goal is to save the Rebels, the reason he took on the mission to deliver the plans in the first place, is not achieved until he destroys the death Star.

      In most dramas the overarching goals are defined at the end of act one and remain constant.

      In some films the hero will fail to achieve the objective goal but still achieve the subjective goal. Romeo and Juliet has Romeo fail to end the conflict between his families at the end of act II so he and Juliette can be together but in the end the subjective goal of being with Juliette is achieved by their deaths. Godfather has Michael fail to stay out of the family business so he can help the family by making them go legit at the end of act II but in the end he is able to help the family by taking over the criminal operations. These overarching goals still remain constant through the drama but the objective goal is not achieved creating a tragic effect.

      In most films the stakes rise as the story progresses so each new mini goal does often involve higher stakes. Back to the Future is a good example of this. Although it has many mini goals, the increasing stakes is best illustrated by Marty's goal to reunite his parents and repair the alterations to the time line or else he himself will be erased from existence. This must be done before the objective goal of getting back tot he future can be achieved at the end of act II. The subjective goal of trying to save Doc Brown, the real need to get back to the future, is not achieved (or in this case realized) until the end of act III.

      Try sitting down with a few movies similar tot he one you are writing and note WHY the protagonist is doing what he/she does what is done.



      • #4
        first avoid the notion of "rules"... second, structure depends on your goal - if your goal is to get an agent, i.e., this is a writing sample, you have a lot more flexibility than say you want to send this to mel gibson or denzel washington.

        the key is always the same however - is this a good story. so good that people will pay me a million for it. so good that they will invest 40 more million to produce it. so good in fact that they will them spend 40 more million to promote it and finally so good that people will pay 120 million to see it - TWICE!

        a good story worx in any format - over the water cooler, in the car, at a party - a good story is a good story. use the same standards in your script you require from the neighbor when he leans over your fence and says, hey did you hear about...

        does each page make me want to read the next page? is there a hero or a winner? will i repeat the story to my friends the same way i heard it? will it change my life?

        your movie is a just a story and if you tell a great story in a great way, you will be successful...

        good luck.


        • #5
          Thanks guys~