Have you ever spent a great amount of time looking for something only to find that it wasn’t there? What emotions did you experience? Anxiety, frustration or perhaps even relief if what you searched for wasn’t something you really wanted to find.
Every writer knows that their protagonist has to want something from the onset of the story. The goal is to find it, buy it, unveil it, at all costs. During the search, the character goes through a series of trials, some benign, others quite dangerous. The vast majority of stories end with success. Whatever it was that the character wanted at the beginning has been secured.
But what would happen, how would the story change, if instead of achieving his goal, the character fails? If he was optimistic as he set off on his search, what is he feeling at the end? If he was pessimistic at the onset, not really wanting it but setting off on the quest anyway, is he relieved when it eludes him?
Your task is to write the story of the dead end. Your protagonist wants something so badly that she immerses herself in the search. Trials appear that slow her down. At the end, she cannot find that which she desired.
Description is important, but to be able to understand what your character wants, include dialogue. He has a companion on his journey, or she meets up with friends and shares her exploits.
Have fun with this one.