Generally, things don’t turn out exactly as we want them to, and in your novel, as in your life, things may not happen for your protagonist exactly how he envisions them. Although a character coming full-circle is not an uncommon way to end a story, it doesn’t have to end that way – readers can achieve closure without all the little goal boxes being ticked.
For example – say at the beginning of the novel, your protagonist’s main goal is to return home. Perhaps on their journey they realize that home is relative and is wherever they have friends. So they may not return to the exact coordinates they wanted to go to, but they have still achieved their goal. A new equilibrium is reached.
Or, like Bilbo Baggins, maybe they do return home – to their former physical space – like they always wanted, but they have been forever emotionally altered. Their home is the same, but they are not.
Or they want to find a sense of personal identity, and they have an idea of what that looks like, but in the end they realise that they are personally defined by the identity of the collective.
A little girl goes through life always wanting a puppy, and in the end has tamed a dragon – a much cooler pet, if you ask me.
Creating these slight shifts in beliefs, or making the final goal that has been reached a little different from what was expected, add an element of realism to your story, and also create a talking point among your readers, leaving them wondering if the new equilibrium is really better than what the characters had been striving for all along.
Every October, hundreds of bloggers gather at The Nesting Place to write for 31 days straight on a variety of different topics, teaching and encouraging and offering tips and tricks to make life easier.