I'm writing a story inspired by the 2010 South Korean movie called I Saw the Devil. The movie is about a secret service agent called Kim Soo-Hyun who enacts his revenge on a serial killer called Jang Kyung-Chul for having murdered his fiancée, Joo-Yun. Kim kidnaps and releases Jang multiple times throughout the movie to psychologically torture him. The theme of I Saw the Devil is that revenge turns one into a monster. I think the theme topics are revenge vs personal humanity (or integrity), but the plot is very messy and doesn't really support the theme that well.
My story is about an FBI agent who wants to get revenge on an incel serial killer who murdered his fiancee. The incel murdered the agent's fiancee because he was jealous of the fact that the FBI agent had a beautiful girlfriend, but he was a lonely virgin. The theme of my story is that one can only overcome one's grief through restorative justice. The theme topics of my story are restorative justice vs retributive justice.
The philosophy of restorative justice eventually wins. At the end of my story, the serial killer's father will ask the FBI agent to work with him on an organization dedicated to preventing incel men from becoming violent extremists. The incel serial killer will commit suicide at the end of the story because of his inability to overcome his need for vengeance against womankind.
My story has the same problem as I Saw the Devil. In I Saw the Devil, Kim's, the protagonist's, goal is the weakest part of the story. His goal is to torture Jang for an indefinite period of time. His goal is too abstract, vague, and not concrete in any conceivable way. In other words, Kim's goal has no physical manifestation, and it cannot be represented by a single measurable or quantifiable event or by a limited number of chronological events in the plot. My protagonist, the FBI agent, like Kim, had the goal of torturing the killer who murdered his fiancee.
In I Saw the Devil, we never know if Kim is making progress toward his goal of avenging his dead fiancée because there's no possible way to tell when a torture scene brings him any closer to a sense of closure or helps him overcome his grief over his fiancée’s death. There's just no way to quantify the progress Kim makes toward achieving his goal.
Moreover, each and every torture scene feels highly repetitive because of a lack of quantifiable progress made toward achieving the protagonist's goal. Even though Kim tortures Jang in a variety of locations and there's a bit of a thrilling aspect to the chase of every catch and release, there's still so very little tension in the movie. I'm working on ways to give my story thrilling action scenes, but I want to have more character development than I Saw the Devil in my story, and I want to maximize my story's tension. I also want to include some ultraviolent scenes in my story like some of Kim's revenge scenes in the Korean movie.
What are the various kinds of ways I can turn my protagonist's goal of revenge into a quantifiable goal with a definitive beginning, middle, and end? In other words, what are some examples of ways I can turn my protagonist's abstract goal into a measurable concrete goal so that my readers know when my protagonist is making progress toward accomplishing his goal of revenge? And what are the various methods I can use to ensure that my readers will know when my protagonist will have achieved his act of revenge? My story is a horror thriller and I need it to be a very violent story. Is there a way for me to determine what amount of torture and physical suffering my protagonist can put my antagonist through before he gives up on his quest for his vengeance?
I want my protagonist to eventually change his goal from revenge to restorative justice when giving up on his goal of revenge. But I also want to make sure that when he's pursuing his goal of revenge he has a tangible way of achieving it.
I feel that my story is fundamentally flawed, but I'm stubborn, and I still want to write it. I don't want to give up on my story, so any suggestions would really be appreciated. Thank you.