One of my favorite short stories of all time is The Swimmer by John Cheever. In it, a man living in the suburbs decides, on a hot and pleasant day, to return to his house across town. Only thing is, he doesn’t want to walk or drive–he wants to swim across his neighbors’ swimming pools.
How’s that for a simple goal? It doesn’t even sound all that interesting, until you read the story. Then you find yourself riveted to this character’s journey, which spans one of the creepiest and most fulfilling story arcs in modern literature.
My point in using this example is that it doesn’t matter what your main character’s goal is in a story. People don’t read novels and comic books and watch movies because they think the hero’s goal is unique and interesting. (more…)