Ready for More GMC? (Penny Rader)

I found so much information for my July 21st post, which you can find here, that I split it into two parts. I hope you find something in this post useful.

Need a blank GMC chart?

Want to take a GMC workshop? This just popped into my inbox: “Goal, Motivation and Conflict: Character is Key,” presented by Stacey Kade. You’ll need to hurry though! It begins tomorrow, August 1.

Goal, Motivation and Conflict (Karyn Good)

Conflict is the clash between wants and needs. Ask yourself: What stops a character from doing what he/she must versus what he/she wants? Another important question to ask is this: Why is loving this person the worst thing this character can do at this moment?

Goals, Motivation and Conflict (Mary Timmer) pp 13-16

There is a tricky balance between conflict and motivation. If a character’s goals aren’t important enough to him or her, a tough conflict could easily thwart them from pursuing the goal. The motivation behind the goal has to be strong enough to withstand the challenge of the conflicts you put in the character’s path. Does your character want to save the kitten in the tree? Really? Why? If the tree is covered in poison ivy, will he still be willing to climb up and save the kitten? What if there are killer hornets nesting in the tree and the hero can’t withstand a common bee sting? What would make him climb that tree then? He might climb that tree if a large reward was being offered for that kitten’s safe return. He might be even more likely if he needed the money to pay for his son’s medication – especially if the son might die without the medication. But if the hero’s goal is to buy a 1968 Corvette Stingray and he can get the money in other ways, he might decide that death by hornet isn’t worth the reward.

Goals, Motivation and Conflict (Shelley Munro)

If I can answer the following five questions about my characters, then I know my story is workable, and I’m ready to start.

1. What do my characters want?
2. Why do they want it?
3. How do they plan to get it?
4. What’s standing in their way?
5. What will happen if they don’t get it?

Goals, Motivation & Conflict: Giving Life to Characters (Hamish Grayson)

Strong motivating factors:

1. Guilt: his/her carelessness/neglect/absence/ presence/mistake/etc. caused something bad to happen that the character carries around with them (emotional baggage)
2. Need: his/her survival, or the survival of someone they love or are responsible for depends on character acting in certain ways
3. Protection: someone else will be affected by their actions
4. Defense: they must hide behind an exterior persona, act in certain ways, to keep from being hurt
5. Danger: consequences of action may be disastrous if the character makes the slightest mistake
6. Revenge: character must get even for wrongs done in the past (revenge is good against either primary or secondary characters)
7. Any other emotionally strong factor that can be used dramatically

Got Character Goals? (Laurin Witting)
What your character needs and wants drives what happens in the story — aka, your plot. If your character needs to learn to trust in order to be happy again (an internal goal), then your story better put that character in positions where she has to learn how to trust, and that trust must be tested, hard, so the character learns the lesson deep in her bones.

Increase Character Conflict (Camy Tang)
Once you’ve determined the character’s fear, then hit him/her with it with all the strength you’ve got in your pen. Be ruthless. This is not the time to be squeamish. This will guarantee an exciting movement to your story, and your readers will be anxious to find out how the character handles the stress.”

Low Fat Goal, Motivation and Conflict (Debra Twardowski)

Start conflict at the beginning. There is a reason they will be called to adventure. They have to go themselves.

Scene Conflicts (Alicia Rasley)

Think of the motivation and conflict as pullers and pushers. The motivation pulls her towards the goal, but the conflict is shoving her from behind or shoving her back or shoving her in another direction. How is that going to play out in this scene?

Sharing My GMC Chart. Have You Done Yours? (Missy Tippens)

Missy shares her GMC chart for her Love Inspired book, His Forever Love.

Understanding Goal, Motivation and Conflict (our own Starla Kaye)

All main characters in a story must have a definite long-term goal, must be strongly motivated to obtain the goal, and face numerous obstacles trying to reach the goal. Villains also need these things. And to make the story most enjoyable for the reader, make the characters have opposing goals.

What Do You Mean My Hero Needed More Conflict? (Mary Beth Lee)

Conflicts are important to the story. Not FIGHTS. Fights are external. They serve a purpose to a point, but the romance reader needs and wants more than one squabble after another. They want to know and love the characters in a book. They want to root for the man and woman involved in the story. They want to laugh and cry with them. And even though it might seem like it, they DO NOT want the road to everlasting love to be easy.

What Is Conflict? (Caro Clarke)

Conflict can be more subtle, more complex, more interesting than "she says tomayto, he says tomahto." Conflict is opposing desires, mismatches, uncertainty, deadlines, pressures, incompatible goals, uneasiness, tension. We are all caught up in some of these conflicts every day. And so should your characters. A convincing story has many conflicts built into it, layered and connected. The first layer is inside your characters. Once you know what these are, you can use them to make the conflicts between the characters more convincing and interesting.


Did you find any of these links helpful? Can you recommend additional resources? If you’d like to share GMCs from your own work, I’d love to see them.


Helen Hardt said...

Hi Penny -- another great GMC blog! I especially love the tip from my friend Shelley Munro.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for dropping by, Helen! I love Shelly's post, too. I plan to post those questions in my writing notebook.

Joanne Stewart said...

Great post on GMC! Very well explained. GMC can be so hard to learn, but you've made it seem almost easy!

Word Actress said...

Great questions. I'm writing my first novel so I'll think about them as I move the story along.
I would add only this one thing - always remain open to the mystery of storytelling. My character Sosie Bend in my novel Night Surfing is studying love the way someone might study architecture or another language. Why is she doing this? Because she doesn't trust her instincts when it's come to love. They've let her down or got her into trouble.
And yet, I love when Sosie believes in someone so much just b/c that's her trusting, loving personality.
Happy Week-End all! Mary Kennedy Eastham, Author The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget Website:

Penny Rader said...

LOL, Joanne. Since I'm not good with GMC (especially the C!), I thought I'd poke around and see what I could find to help me do a better job. I figured if it helped me, it might help someone else, too. :D

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for dropping by, Mary. Your character, Sosie, sounds quite intriguing.

Kathy said...

Thanks for the work and for sharing it with us Penny. I'm still too much of a panster to understand, in my mind I know the stuff but I'm not to stage in writinng where I can do this yet. These are good things to do and know but I just can't get it down lol.

Kathy said...

Again thanks for sharing and and for all the pulling together of the information.

Mary Ricksen said...

What wonderful information!
You make it sound so easy, the way you have explained it.
Writing for me is always a learning process!

Penny Rader said...

Hi Kathy! I think I'm a combination of plotter and pantser (plotzer is a term I saw the other day).

I need an idea of what I'm shooting for, but I don't necessarily have every step of the way planned out. If I don't have at least a vague notion of a specific scene or event to write toward, my brain freezes and I stop writing. Unfortunately, once I stop it's ridiculous how long it takes me to get going again.

I'm thinking that even if you don't have everything clearly figured out at the beginning, that a GMC chart could be a good revision tool, to break down the completed book and see what's missing.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Mary! That's what I love about writing. There's always something to learn. Although sometimes I think the more I learn the less I know. ;D

Caroline Clemmons said...

sesallinThis was a great primer on GMC! I don't think you included Debra Dixon, though. Her novel on GMC is one I break out occasionally to refesh my memory.

Rox Delaney said...

Elizabeth Sinclair's The Dreaded Synopsis is a great companion to Deb Dixon's GMC. Yeah, it's supposed to be about writing a synopsis, but I often pull it out for GMC guidance.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks, Caroline! I forgot to include a reference to an earlier post I did, What is GMC?, where I blogged a bit about Deb Dixon's GMC book.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Rox! A couple days ago I finished listening to a workshop Elizabeth/Marge did for last summer's RWA conference on GMC and scenes. I need to write and ask if she still has the handout available. Thanks for mentioning her Dreaded Synopsis book.