Thursday, December 15, 2011

G is for GMC

When I first started writing romance, (My first VERY lame attempts were in High School...I still shudder.) I had no idea there was somewhat of a formula to it. Readers expect certain things from a romance. For example, the happily ever after is absolutely required.

However, getting your hero and heroine there isn't just all sunshine, happiness, romance, and love. Your characters have to have goals. More so, they have to have goals that are in conflict with each other's. And they have to have a reasonable and not contrived motivation for those goals.

Yeesh. Who knew?

In a nutshell; Goal is what your character wants. Motivation is why he/she wants it. And the conflict is why it's going to be a problem in conjunction with the other character(s).

Most writers are probably familiar with Debra Dixon's GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction . (If you're not, you should be!) It's definitely a must for any beginning writer.

Even though I'm not much of a plotter (usually), I always do a simple GMC chart for my hero and heroine before I start a book. It really helps me get some insight into them and figure out where her story, his story, and their story is heading. I tend to figure out the happily ever after part even before writing chapter one, but it's nailing down what happens in the middle where thinking in terms of GMC comes in handy.

If you Google GMC (or Goal Motivation Conflict) you'll get a plethora of worksheets to download or use to help you walk through the steps of giving your characters the goals, motivation, and conflict that will bring your story to life.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Now available: A Christmas to Remember


  1. Interesting post, Debra. I tend to think in terms of multiple goals (and the motivation for each of these), which can often change during the course of the story. These can be either the cause or the result of conflicts with the other character(s).

  2. The goals of the characters can definitely change over the course of the book.

    A fellow writer did a presentation once for us on the different 'acts' in a story. She used the movie "Pretty Woman" as an example of changing goals as the character grows.

  3. I was thinking of Scarlett O'Hara actually and how her goals changed.
    I think if goals didn't change in response to other characters and situations, a story could become very 'static'.

  4. Great post, Debra and very interesting. I like the idea of making a GMC chart, just to keep things on track. I'll have to try that next time. Thanks!

  5. Paula, Right, if a character's goals don't change there's no growth there...and not much of a story.

    Jennifer...glad you found it helpful!

  6. I have a book on plotting that featured Pretty Woman as one of five stories. It tracked the arcs of the GMC of the main characters. Fascinating. So I agree, Debra. GMC is essential for a story to have believable depth and emotional satisfaction.