Goal, Motivation, Conflict…

I just finished reading “GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict” by Debra Dixon. It’s been touted as a seminal writing reference work in many of the writers reference books I’ve read, but up until recently, it hadn’t been in publication. I’ve looked for it in the past and bulked at spending the exe amounts people wanted for second-hand copies. Well it’s now available as an ebook through amazon (here). I went looking for it, because yet another writers reference book recommended it.

As I mentioned before, I got two books on plotting just before Christmas. I haven’t even started “Million Dollar Outlines”, because I found so much of interest in “Rock Your Plot” that I went out and bought its companion “Rock Your Revisions” straight away (both by Cathy Yardley), and I’ve been working through those, and GMC ever since. I bought GMC, because GMC is used and recommended in both books.

And boy-oh-boy am I glad I did!

One of The Most Useful books on writing I have EVER read.

Yes, I’m finding RYRx2 very useful (I highly recommend both), but I got even more out of “Rock Your Revision” because I’ve read GMC, and that’s saying a lot.

So, why so ecstatic?

Because it made my MC make sense. As simple, and as difficult as that. I know where my plot for CM1 needs to go, because I know where my MC is going, and, more importantly, why. And RYRevision is providing me with a solid way to fix the book.

I couldn’t be happier if I’d won the lottery.

I won’t go into the details of GMC here. There have been a lot of other posts on it, and you can even find images online of the GMC ‘chart’ which is the main-frame for hanging all of the associated knowledge off.

The GMC catchphrase is: ‘A Character wants a Goal because he is Motivated, but he faces Conflict.’ Plot all of these elements in a simple table, including both external and internal variants, and you have the entire motivating force for your character. Plot all your characters, and you have the entire motivating force for your book.

Seems so damn simple, but is was oh-so-not obvious to me. I’ve been struggling with my story and character goals for … well since the book was first conceived. And I couldn’t find them. And in the less than the three days it too me to read it (while taking copious notes I might add) I’ve done it! I suddenly have a roadmap to follow for the entire book and it’s oh-so-clear!

Pure gold.

Some additional take-aways I learnt from GMC besides the actual GMC

  • Urgency should be the watch word of all goals
  • Each Character has an agenda and their own GMC
  • Each MC has a lesson to learn found in their internal GMC
  • That lesson will drive their climax

Now, go buy the book! Seriously!

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