Mission Statements

On her blog yesterday, Tracy Marchini included a link to a post on plots by Jennifer Crusie. Now I’ve read A LOT of posts about plotting but one thing in Jennifer’s post really struck me and that was the MC’s thoughts she put in each of her 4 sections. These are:

Section 1: “I have a plan.”
Section 2: “I wasn’t expecting this but I can handle it.”
Section 3: “I can’t go back because I’ve changed too much; I must go on.”
Section 4: “I’m defeated, but I can’t quit.”

This got me thinking about mission statements. We often concentrate on our MC’s goals, but how often do we think about their missions in each section or scene? For me, the answer is, sometimes. I know the purpose of the scene. I know what I want it to achieve. But I’ve never actually created a one-line mission statement for the scene.

For example, say your MC just found out that her boyfriend lied to her about where he was on Saturday night. You might write the scene thinking, “MC goal=find out the truth” but what you also need is “MC mission statement=I have to find out the truth or I will never trust him again.” The difference here is the motivation. The goal tells you what the character is trying to accomplish and the mission statement tells you why it matters to them.

If you don’t already do this, I’d suggest you try it. FOR EVERY CHARACTER IN THE SCENE. You’ll be amazed how much more focused your characters (and scenes) become.

Category: On Writing