The best way to emphasize the goal of your hero is to create a parallel goal in a secondary character. By seeing the goal of a secondary character reflected in the hero’s main goal, it’s impossible to forget or ignore the hero’s main goal. In bad movies, the hero has one goal and the secondary characters often have no goal of their own at all.
In “Die Hard,” the hero wants to get back with his wife. Yet a parallel goal is when the hero kills a terrorist and the dead terrorist’s brother views revenge for his brother’s death. It’s not exact, but it’s close enough to parallel the hero’s main goal. Another example is “Legally Blonde” where the hero’s main goal is to falling love, and she helps her hair stylist fall in love with a handsome UPS deliveryman.
In the Israeli film “Zero Motivation,” the hero has a goal to lose her virginity. Early in the film, the hero meets a secondary character who sneaks into an army base to be with a man she slept with, only to have the man reject her. In “Frozen,” the hero wants to win back the affection of her sister. In the meantime, a man is busy trying to win the affection of the hero. In “WALL-E,” the hero wants to find love. In the meantime, he helps a human couple find love with each other.
Parallel goals are crucial in keeping your main story idea focused. Study any bad or mediocre movie and it likely lacks a parallel goal from a secondary character. Study any good movie and you’ll see that not only do all of the secondary characters have goals of their own, but many of them parallel the hero’s own goal in some way whether directly or indirectly. Essentially your story is all about one goal with secondary characters highlighting the importance of the hero’s main goal.
By giving your secondary characters goals, you create a richer story. By giving secondary characters goals that parallel the hero’s main goal, you highlight that goal as the main theme of your story. Think of each secondary character goal as an additional prop that helps up your main hero’s goal. The more additional props you have, the stronger and more prominent your hero’s main goal and theme will be.