Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Book Examples Needed, Day 2: False Goals
Does the hero have a false or short-sighted goal in the first half?
Just as your hero begins with a false or short-sighted philosophy, he should also pursue a false or short-sighted goal for the first half of your story. This can take many forms:
Wrong Solution to Right Solution: In 2006, the Lupus Foundation gave the TV show House an award for all it had done to spread awareness for the disease. But it was strange because, at the time, Dr. House had never correctly identified a case of Lupus. Instead, on several occasions, House’s team falsely identifies the patient’s mysterious ailment as Lupus before they realize the patient has a far-more exotic disease. Lupus is a little-understood, catch-all diagnosis that can explain all sorts of symptoms that don’t normally fit together, so for House’s team, it’s a tempting but false way to think of the puzzle in front of them. Nevertheless, it gives them tests to run, and these tests unexpectedly lead them to the real diagnosis they hadn’t suspected before.
Micro-Goal to Macro-Goal: This is a simpler form of false goal. In Star Wars, Luke goes from wanting to fix his runaway droid to wanting to blow up the Death Star. John McClane in Die Hard spends the first half of the movie just trying to call the cops before he realizes he’ll have to take on a terrorist cell single-handedly. These false goals make character motivations far more believable. If the heroes just woke up one day and decided to do a hugely daunting task, it would be hard to swallow. It’s far more compelling to watch them get sucked into greatness against their better judgment.
Total Reversal of Values: Juno goes off searching for a “cool” parent to entrust her kid to, then realizes in the end that she wants just the opposite. Dave in Breaking Away starts off trying to defeat the college kids, then realizes he really wants to join them. Peter Parker in Spider-Man wants to use his powers to make his own life better until his callousness gets his uncle killed. Jake Sully in Avatar goes from wanting to rejoin the marines to killing them en masse.
So what do you say? Any book suggestion for these three?