Story Goal vs. Signposts
I have always thought a goal of the story should show up at the end of the story. However after playing around with Dramatica I often find the goal showing up as the first second or third signpost. How should I interpret this?
The story goal is a SPECIFIC instance of the Overall Story Concern (or Signpost) about which the Overall Story characters represent differing approaches to achieving it by resolving the underlying conflict. The Story Goal should be explored in each of the four acts (signposts) of the Overall Story throughline followed by the resolution of the effort to achieve the goal identified by the Story Outcome (Success or Failure) somewhere toward the end of the story.
The Overall Story Signposts describe the various approaches toward achieving the goal while also exploring the alternatives, one of which is of the same nature (Type) as the story goal.
For example, your story might have a Story Goal of OBTAINING, such as Finding the Lost Treasure. It will also have an Overall Story Concern of OBTAINING, which is a more generalized concern that might include finding a map, winning the lottery, losing an election, losing a job, etc. The various Overall Story Characters, some concerned with one thing while the others concerned with the other things, explore these in general.
The signposts provide a broad context for a period of time in the story (an Act) that frames the effort to achieve the specific Story Goal, broad Overall Story Concern, and resolve the story's OS Problem(s). The Signpost that explores Obtaining might be thought of as "what do the characters gain or lose while trying to find the lost treasure?" Another signpost -- such as Gathering Information/Learning -- might be thought of "what do the characters learn or what information is gathered while trying to find the lost treasure?" Thus all four acts are explored through the signposts within each throughline.
There is no general difference if the Type (the structural item associated with the Story Goal and OS Concern and one of the Overall Story Signposts) shows up in the first, second, third, or last signpost. The difference is the context in which the Type is found: whether it is the narrow focus of the Story Goal, the general area of the Overall Story Concern, or the temporary context provided by the Overall Story Signposts.