Third and Final Goal – Story Resolution

The third and final goal carries the protagonist to the story’s resolution. This goal is dependent on what happens with the second goal of the protagonist at the end of the second act. If the protagonist succeeds in accomplishing the third act goal, then the antagonist is defeated. If the protagonist does not accomplish his or her goal, then the antagonist succeeds and wins.

As an example of how the protagonist and antagonist goals play out in a hypothetical film, consider the story of the young prince and his princess.

The young warrior prince learns that there is a princess in a faraway kingdom, and he goes in search of her. His act one goal is to find the princess. However, the evil antagonist has the princess, so her kingdom is in trouble. The antagonist’s goal is to have the princess and her kingdom for his own. So the prince must save her, which becomes his second act goal. He accomplishes his goal and rescues the princess. However, even though she is safe, her kingdom is still in the hands of the antagonist. If the prince chooses to do nothing, the story is over, and there would not be a movie. But he chooses to go with the princess into battle for the sake of her kingdom; therefore, freeing her kingdom becomes his third act goal. Whether or not the protagonist achieves the third act goal will determine the conclusion of the film. For the sake of our film, the prince and princess succeed, the antagonist loses, and the kingdom is saved.

As the synopsis and treatment take form, revisit these three goals. Do not be afraid of refining or even changing the protagonist’s goals, especially the third act goal. But in every aspect of the process, keep the focus on the protagonist and on the actions of the protagonist. He or she must remain the driving force of the story at all times. And the point at which they accomplish their goal needs to fit within the three-act structure sequences.