Scene goals

I’ve had a couple people ask me about scene goals.

Basically, your point of view character should have something they need to accomplish when they walk into that scene. It could have something to do with the character’s External Goal, or it could not.

For example, Grissom needs to find Sarah, who’s been kidnapped by the psycho miniature killer (bear with me, I just watched the season premier of CSI). This is his External Goal. But when he goes into the interrogation room to question the suspect, his scene goal is to get the psycho killer to tell him where Sarah is. (For you CSI fans, you know he doesn’t get his information and he fails his scene goal, but he hasn’t failed his Story Goal. Yet.)

Here’s an example from Single Sashimi, the third book in my Sushi series (I just turned in the macro edits for this puppy, so it’s fresh in my mind): My heroine Venus is on her way to her cousin’s house to indulge in chocolate truffles. Her determination to have chocolate within the next hour is her scene goal, which has nothing to do with her External Goal for the story (starting her own company). Lots of things happen to prevent her from eating her chocolate right away (obstacles), although she eventually accomplishes her scene goal and has those truffles.

Now, chocolate is a very minor sort of scene goal, but what it does is introduce tension and focus for the scene. The obstacles in the scene that interject to prevent her chocolate craving are actually important, because they convey information to the reader and move the story forward. However, since these conversations block her scene goal by preventing her from having chocolate, the information is more interesting than if I’d just had Venus have a conversation on the telephone.

Look at your scenes. Does your viewpoint character have a scene goal? If not, can you add one? It doesn’t have to be major—it can be something as minor as a craving for chocolate.


  1. Yea! Another CSI fan! Don't you just love premiere week??? (And great use of Grissom & Sarah to explain scene and story goals. You are one wise wasabi-laced cookie!)


Post a Comment