Scene Goals: To state or not to state?
We all know that our characters should have goals. This is the reason we’re telling the story, after all. And, for the story to be a great one, the character shouldn’t be allowed to accomplish his goal without any hardships and obstacles in the way. These adversities will be presented in several chapters and scenes.
Some writers prefer that a chapter consist of one scene. Sometimes chapters are comprised of several scenes. It’s your choice. You may even vary how you handle this from book to book. There is no right or wrong way.
What I want to get you to think about specifically are scene goals. I’ve got a critique partner, who unfortunately is not on Twitter, or I’d suggest you follow him here. He’s constantly after me about scene goals.
Of course every single scene we write should advance the plot. His advice goes a step further—that each scene should have a stated goal on top of what we’re introducing for the story. Either through IM (internal monologue) or via dialogue, the character must inform the reader that they have something they want to achieve
during the scene. The preference is to wait until the end of the scene before awarding (or not) the character’s want.
The goal can be anything from craving a piece of chewing gum to getting the suspected serial killer to admit to the crime. The point, my CP makes, is that readers want to be entertained and by always knowing what the character aims to accomplish (via the big picture, as well as the smaller snapshots) keeps the reader in the front seat of the story at all times.
I’ve given much thought to his suggestion. My way of incorporating his advice is to add that element to some chapters, but not to every single one. I worry about looking formulaic with the writing, otherwise. I tend to use it for scenes that I deem important but may fall a little flat on their own. The added tension keeps the reader reading.
What about you? How do you feel about scene goals? Do you incorporate them? Sometimes? Always? Never?