In any story, the lead character must have a goal: to find a sword, to defeat a dragon, to get married. Without that goal (or five) a story becomes just a series of events described in scenes. Of course, there are stories like that, but a story with a well-defined goal is much more interesting. We root for our hero. We want him to succeed, to attain his goal. Take any classical story, and you see a glowing goal beckon like a star from a distance.
One of the crucial rules about that goal – it must be positive. Negative goals don’t make good fiction. Examples of a negative goal: to escape xxxx, to avoid yyyy, to prevent zzzz. Notice the negative verbs. In all these cases, what a hero is trying to do is to preserve the status quo, to keep his old life. That’s exactly what must be broken for a story to start. Every successful story begins when the current state of affairs is destroyed. To restore the equilibrium in his world or to find a new one, the hero must go on a quest. That’s in essence what a story is: a chronicle of the hero’s journey to reintroduce balance in his life.
All the heroes and heroines in my fiction have positive goals, frequently more than one. In my novel ALMOST ADEPT, the heroine’s ultimate goal is to find an evil blood mage and neutralize him, so he would stop hurting the innocent. She has other goals as well, interlinked with the main one – to prove her magic status as Adept, to help her beloved, to save young apprentices – and their synergy complicates and enriches the story.
In my short story MAGIC, SWORD… AND TURNIPS, the lead character’s goal is to find a magical talisman which would save lives. The protagonist of the story is a woman warrior, and her second goal, intertwined with the first, is to protect her magician partner from getting hurt, while they are both searching and retrieving that talisman. You can read the story here.