The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Aarggh!! Goal, Motivation, Conflict! Aarggh!!


Three words you really want to get to know well if you are an aspiring writer and want to see your book published, making sales and gaining fans who want to see more and more from you. This is what makes your story. GMC is the backbone, the three things that hold it all together as well as moving it forward and bringing your readers helplessly deeper into the hero and heroine's journey.

So what is GMC?

This is the big question - because despite my success as a novelist and the lovely four & five star reviews I am receiving, I still not sure I've GOT IT!! GMC drives me insane every time I start a new project. So that's the purpose of this post - I have signed up for a GMC online course run by fellow WRP author, Paty Jager in the hope she will put me straight now and forever!

Here's how I understand it - but please, feel free to throw in your comment where I am going wrong! Help me to see the light, LOL!

Goal - What the hero and heroine WANT or more specifically what they THINK they want. This is what opens the story. Everyone wants something on a different year, month even day so the first thing to figure out is what can your protagonists want they will at least begin an interesting journey. The goal can change over time.

Motivation - What is driving them? The most effective motivation is INTERNAL. What has happened in the hero and heroine's past to make them who they are today? Think of your own life...I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't been so badly treated by my first boyfriend...I wouldn't be who I am today if my best friend hadn't turned out to be a fraud...I wouldn't be who I am today if my father wouldn't have walked on on me...

See? All of these scenarios start the mind ticking over. They are the basis for a character's INTERNAL motivation. But are they enough to carry a story??

Conflict - Now this is the meat of the story. This is what stops your hero and heroine achieving their goal. This is what creates the excitement, the suspense, the passion...
There are two types of conflict: External and Internal

External - The things that happened outside of the characters that get in the way. Ie: snowstorm, misinformation, car breakdown, bones get the idea.

Internal - This is the baby that rules the school!
Go back to my list for motivation - this is the internal reasons for what drives the characters' to want what they do but it is also their internal conflict. I chose those three scenarios as examples on purpose, why? Because they would also provide an internal conflict that is the same... which is?


This would be the hero or heroine's internal conflict that is stopping them from achieving their goal - maybe if they could trust someone, they would suddenly get what they want but if they don't (and it's easy for the reader to understand why!), then this becomes a massive central issue that the author can use to show the characters' journey and how they grow and change.

So that's it - that's how I view GMC. But I can't help thinking if I understand it so well, why do I struggle at the start of every damn book! Paty?? Paty?? Where are you?? Help!!


  1. I'm here! LOL
    Rachel, You have the basics of GMC, we'll dig a little deeper in the class. And hopefully when we're done you'll be confident with the GMC you give your characters.

  2. Don't feel bad, Rachel. I still struggle with GMC with each and every book. I always try to add more conflict and my critique partners scream "No, there's enough."

  3. GMC is tricky. I try to start with a grid and lay things out for each character. That way I can see if their motivation and goals are going to deepen the conflict.