As a writer crafts their story from the void of blank pages they maintain narrative cohesion through the basic elements. They keep the piece focused, driven with deep motivations for each of the characters. They gradually escalate the pace to keep the story moving forward. The subplots are interwoven with the story in such a precise manner that the main plot would fold without them. The reader can not resist, they are pulled into the narrative and swept away by its spell. They hurry to the completion of the story but begin to wonder. The spell draws to a close and the audience is released but they soon forget about it.
Far too often a writer will forget one of the most important elements in a story. A point. An objective.
As the creator perfects their premise they need to have an objective in mind for the premise. The point of a narrative is not only to capture their audience with an elaborate and entrancing spell but to alter the characters within the piece. Every step along the journey, every character caught up in the primary premise and even the premise itself should have an objective.
In the narrative the journey is broken into scenes and chapters, stages along the way that push the characters towards completion. It is here that many will often falter. There are scenes that must be enacted to progress the overall premise but they should each have their own objective. This is also where objectives can become confusing. Introducing a new character or exploring the recently introduced characters can be a piece of this objective but not the entire objective. These stages of the journey can envisioned as primary objectives and sub-objectives. In a mystery this would be a pivotal clue that is discovered while a couple of secondary characters that are pivotal later are introduced would be a sub-objective of a chapter.
Just as every stage of a story is assigned an objective, every character that is introduced must also serve a purpose. Sure there are characters that can be introduced whose objective may seem missing to the audience but if they have a solid objective, then it will be apparent later. Nothing can be more jarring for the audience than being introduced to a character that does not serve a purpose. Now whether these characters support the main characters or have their own agenda is irrelevant. They must have their own objective in the story. An objective can be as simple as adding background details in a piece or as complex as expanding on the details of the primary premise.
The largest error for most writers, most spell-crafters, is failing to address an objective for the primary premise. The creator was a genius spell-crafter capturing the attention of their audience and keeping their attention but when they reach the end of their piece the audience should not be left wondering what was the point of the story. There are many different objectives that can be assigned to a premise but the end result of a narrative is that the character that the audience followed is no longer the same as they were in the beginning of the piece.
As a story is crafted it is necessary for the writer to not only establish the world, characters and premise but to establish the objectives for every element of the piece.
What are your objectives for your characters? Chapters? What about your plot?