When it comes to understanding the story you are writing, teachers stress the importance of knowing what your hero desires, yearns for, desperately wants! They will probably remind you that her goal (want) is something that can be measured externally, in the world.
It’s also a very good idea, they say, to know the meaning your hero attaches to getting what she wants. This meaning is internal, having to do with her most vulnerable emotional wounds.
Example: She will do almost anything to get that promotion because then she’ll feel validated and successful (instead of feeling like the failure in her family of 5 siblings). Well, we know that’s not going to turn out exactly as she hopes, right?
So, just when you’re getting the hang of understanding what your hero wants and why–those same teachers will advise you to figure out what your hero needs–because she ain’t going to get what she wants, folks, at least not the way she imagines.
She is going to struggle and fight and drive herself against all the odds to achieve what she wants but she will keep coming up against bigger/more powerful obstacles and forces of opposition until she finally surrenders because she gets it, she understands that this isn’t going to turn out the way she planned (surrender often comes as that dark night of the soul we all really don’t want to experience).
With surrender comes a death of the old way of seeing the world–and yet it also brings rebirth in the form of a new way of understanding, a new vision. She will get what she needs…
Yes, but…a little reminder that we humans are stubborn creatures and just because we go through that dark night, and just because we realize we must change the way we see the world…well that does not mean we don’t still want what we want. If your hero starts out wanting to make someone love her…because then she will know inside that she is worthy of love…but then she finally realizes that she can’t force that other person to love her and even if she could it wouldn’t fill the empty place inside…so now she realizes that by learning to love and accept herself, she will fill that space…well she still probably hopes at least a teensy bit that the other person will come to love her…but it will mean something very different to her now.