Give Me a G! Give Me an M! Give Me a C! (Penny Rader)

Put them all together and what do you have?

Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

This is a follow up to my earlier post What Is GMC? I thought I’d share links (with snippets from each article to whet your appetite!) that can help explain these building blocks far better than I ever could. I found so much great stuff to share that I’m dividing it into two parts. The second half will be posted on July 31st.

Character Conflict: Creating Romantic Tension in Christian Love Stories (Laura Briggs)

A tried and true method that often makes an old story concept seem fresh is to reverse the hero and heroine’s roles. Usually this involves swapping the character’s jobs or lifestyles in order to create a more interesting and unlikely match. … If the writer stereotypes a character based on their career or social status, than the effect of the role reversal will certainly be canceled out. Instead, the writer needs to present the character’s differences in a positive light. As the story progresses, the hero and heroine can learn to appreciate each other for their unique qualities. And by the end of the book, they should both come to realize that they are not complete without each other’s distinct traits and abilities.

Character Motivation (Mindy Hardwick)

Finding character motivation can be a bit like a treasure hunt. Some stories are lucky and it pops right out. But most of the time…finding character motive takes a lot of digging around in a character’s back story and drafting and drafting and drafting!

Character Motivation (Alicia Rasley)

Motivation is the past.
Goal is the future.
Conflict is the present.

Characters in Conflict (Lisa Tuttle)

If your characters all share the same goals, then you can probably begin and end your story on the same page because without conflict, there is no story—at least not one that will keep readers turning pages. When one character’s goals and ambitions conflict with another character’s agenda, the story becomes interesting. Examine the goals and motivations you’ve established for each character and find ways to make them clash with one another.

Conflict Grid, Tool for Success (Lyn Cote)

If you don’t have conflict, you don’t have a story. With Kathy Jacobson’s CONFLICT GRID,* you can uncover every possible conflict inherent that keep your hero and heroine apart.

Conflict of Values (Melinda Evaul)

Examine the internal goals of a character you’re creating. Insert something that will challenge their core value. Choose something that forces him or her to make a hard choice. Some people don’t change when the conflicts come. They remain the same and never grow. And there could be a time when their core value is correct and the conflicts they face confirm this.

Creating Emotional Conflict and Tension in a Romance Novel (Leslie Wainger)

You can't build every plot completely around the emotional conflict, but every plot needs to highlight that conflict whenever possible. The more complicated your plot is, the more threads you have going on at once; however, emotional tension should underlie everything that's happening. The emotional conflict should always be in the characters' and the readers' minds.

Deeper Character Motivation: Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Character Development (Jennifer Jensen)

It is important to note, however, that just because a writer knows the character’s deepest needs does not mean that the character realizes it. A woman who was shoved to the background for years while her sister dealt with cancer won’t connect that experience with her need for belonging and her desire to be the life of the party now. But you as a writer know that, and you can let that understanding come out in other ways.

Developing Conflict…Before You Write (Sherry Davis)

So ask yourself, what is your character afraid of? What gives him/her the cold sweats? What makes them hide in the closet? Make sure you've chosen an opposing character who forces the character to face their internal conflict, either overtly or covertly.

Digging for Goals (Melinda Evaul)

Dig deeper and discover the ‘internal goals’ in your characters. What is she honestly seeking in life? What is her greatest fear? Are there things in her life she needs to change? What keeps her from reaching the external goal? Is her goal what is best for her and those she loves? Is she hiding secrets? Do these affect her or her loved ones? Example: Tracy may say she wants to sell her paintings. What she truly wants is acceptance, because she believes she isn’t worthy of love.

Dissecting the G, M and C (Robyn DeHart)

…motivation gives the reader a reason to care for the characters. It is one of the greatest tools we have as writers to make our imperfect characters, that we love, loveable to our readers. Developing strong motivation forces you to think, to dig deep into your characters, and in the end it can be the difference between someone finishing your book, or putting it back on the shelves.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Writing (Emily McKay)

You don’t need to be subtle about GMC. You don’t need to be sparing either. The audience needs to know what’s at stake for your characters. They need to know what your characters want and why they want it. If you don’t let your audience know what’s at stake, the audience won’t get to enjoy anticipating everything that could go wrong.


Do you have any tips about developing your characters’ goals, motivations, and/or conflicts? Or specific examples from your own work that you’d like to share with us?

I hope you'll check back on the 31st for more GMC links.


Roxann Delaney said...

Wow! Love the links, and the teasers are super!

GMC, especially the C (Conflict) is often what new writers struggle with the most. I know I did...for several years, and I admit that sometimes it still gives me the crazies.

So what comes first for you? The G, the M, or the C? And does it always?

Tanya Hanson said...

Hey Penny, what a terrific post and the links are something to bookmark. Thanks for this.

Conflict is so important. I was in a non-romance writing workshop for a while and one of the gals tried to start a romance wip that had no conflict at all. I even recommended Dixon's book. I don't know if it worked, though LOL.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Rox! Conflict is one of my biggest bugaboos (sp?). I dread that question: What's your h/h conflict?

What comes first for me? Probably the Goal, or at least the initial goal. I wish spectacular conflicts would come first and then I could build from there.

What comes first for you? And has it changed over the course of your career?

Penny Rader said...

Hi Tanya! I don't know why conflict is so hard for me. Probably because I avoid conflict like crazy in my own life. =:O

Funny that the other writer didn't have any conflict in her wip because it seems to me that no matter what genre you write in, if you don't have a conflict, what's going to keep the story going?

Debra St. John said...

Thanks for the links!

I love how you broke down the three main components into time frames: past, present, and future. That really makes it a concrete thing to think about.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for dropping by, Debra. The past, present, and future came from Alicia Rasley's article, but I thought it was too cool not to share. Sure made me think about GMC in a new way.

Kathy said...

Thanks Penny, for your great article and the links within. I worry about GMC and wonder if I have it right. I don't plot and do sheets and all that. The closest I came to plotting was to write a summary of the story I'm working on right now. I have the basic idea for the story and hero and heroine and other people are appearing along with somebody that could be a hero in another story in the future lol. I did goof and wind up with two different people with the same last name but I had given the female a name and forgot it lol.

Helen Hardt said...

I don't think it gets much simpler or more effective than Alicia Rasley's quote. That's a great way to look at GMC. Thanks, Penny!

Roxann Delaney said...

Penny, I don't know which comes first for me. My first reaction is to say the goal is probably the last thing, but if I'm honest, that isn't true. I do think I've learned--the hard way--to concentrate more on conflict. I think it must depend on the characters--who come first to my mind--what rears its ugly head first, G, M, or C. But then I'm not good at explaining my process well.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Kathy! I wish you all the best with your new story. The thing I like about worksheets is once I come up with something I can plop on that sheet and not have to worry about remembering it later.

Anyone else like that? If you don't write it down,the minute it pops into your head, poof! it's gone?

Penny Rader said...

It's good to "see" you, Helen. :D Wish I'd thought of that quote.

Mary Ricksen said...

Good luck, great post Penny!

Cheryl said...

Hi Penny,

Thanks so much for this!!! What great info this is! I'm going to save this to refer back to, Penny. Sorry I was so late getting over here today--just been out and about and was doing Wild Western Wednesday over at CRR.


Lyn Cote said...

Thanks for mentioning Kathy Jacobson's Conflict Grid! It's a great tool!

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for visiting, Mary!

Penny Rader said...

No worries, Cheryl! It's not uncommon for me to visit blogs days late. :D So glad you found the sites helpful.

Penny Rader said...

Lyn, thanks for writing the post about Kathy's conflict grid. Can't wait to try it out. Actually, I'm hoping to fit the workshop you're giving on the grid into my schedule.

Btw, I just love the Prairie Chicks blog. Tons of great info there.

Starla Kaye said...

Penny, you always give us so much great information. I feel so inadequate next to you. Thanks.

Helen Hardt, in case you see this post...I just did a review of Primal Instinct for Got Erotic Romance. Can I say yum!!!

Penny Rader said...

You crack me up, Starla. I nearly sprayed my keyboard with a mouthful of Dr. Pepper.

No way you're inferior to me. You produce scads and scads more than I do. I just procratinate by poking around the internet to see what I can learn. Looking for that magic bullet, ya know, where the stories will write themselves. ;D