Here's a sample from the newly released guidebook Discovering Your Plot.
In discussing character goals and motivation, the most important goal becomes clear at the beginning of the story, with the threatened destruction of the protagonist's Dearest Goal. This example discusses the recent blockbuster film Taken with Liam Neeson, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
Let’s take Taken for our example.
Taken presents a near-perfect Call to Adventure.
For the OW, the protagonist is with his daughter, his cherished Dear.
We see his relationship with her, an atypical view of a father not giving his daughter the best gift. We see his allies and his all-important “skill-set”, and we see how his attempt to control the safety of his daughter is undermined by his ex-wife.
While he manages to maintain a modicum of control, it is further undermined when he realizes his ex-wife and daughter have lied to him about the daughter’s trip: the daughter and her friend will be in multiple cities, not just one.
In the C2A, the antagonist is already in motion.
This Stage starts innocently enough with a phone call. Then the true antagonists arrive.
First we see the danger to the friend, reported by the daughter to the protagonist. He knows no secure place is available for his daughter to hide from these abductors. Thus, he tells her the truth: she will be taken. Her role now is to give him as much evidence as possible so he can track the abductors.
This reveals quite a good bit about his relationship with his daughter. He has taught her about dangers, and she obeys him, even as she is terrified.
For a brief moment, we the audience are fooled that the daughter will be safe. Then our wishful blindness is ripped away.
The protagonist’s negotiation with the abductor restores a semblance of control—but it is only a semblance. He is thousands of miles away. He has very little evidence to work with. As a final affront, the antagonist crushes the daughter’s cell phone under his heel.
From the Esteem level, our protagonist drops down to Safety Concerns for his daughter.
As the story rolls, he does drop further to Survival, briefly. By the end, he is back to Intrinsic Esteem. The transformation needed was not his but his daughter’s and his ex-wife’s, to value what they had previously despised.
The Destruction of his Dear is never achieved (although we see several mirrors of it—the friend, other young women also abducted, young women who weren’t rescued, the one young woman he rescues—by mistake but who gives him necessary information). The Destruction comes so close that the audience’s adrenaline shoots up and never really drops down until the very end.
Here's the official trailer for the film.
What to sample more? Check the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon at this link.