The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Goal, Motivation, Conflict...

I am using today's blog as a place to vent...grrr!!!

I am just starting book number 10 - yes, 10. You'd think after penning that many 70,000 + word books, a little thing like Goal, Motivation and Conflict would be established in my mind. Not a problem to face each and every time I start a new story...that's what you'd think. WRONG!!

Today, I am attempting to come up with the GMC for book ten but also go back to the drawing board with book nine - which my agent is expecting to be delivered and polished to within an inch of its life by Feb 1st. Hmm...

Why has this problem arisen with book nine now, I hear you ask.

It all started yesterday when my wonderful critique partner mentioned two points - 1) one of my characters made a decision that felt completely unnatural and 2) she's worried I'm relying too much on external conflict which means my internal is weak.

Ouch!!! But she's right. The more I read the chapter she was referring to, the more I think about the entire book...her points are entirely valid. :(

So, back to the drawing board on not one, but two books - any tips? I'd love to hear how you plan your books, deal with GMC and ensure you internal conflicts are driving the story. I am trying not to have a panic attack at this stage of book me!!

Rachel x


  1. Stay calm and take a deep breath! You can fix it. You've written NINE books, babe, and this hiccup will make the MS even better. If it's any comfort I'm having a 'this book is really rubbish' moment with book 3,so I reckon this sort of thing happens in January! Everything will be fine. XXXXXX

  2. I feel your pain. I had to start my latest WIP over from scratch. The heroine just wasn't working. It's a vampire romance and I'd given the heroine a child. By the time I got to chapter 10, I realized the heroine I'd created wouldn't get involved with a vampire, no matter how much she loved him because it would put her child in danger. So, I had to create a new heroine with not just a GMC that fit vampire involvement, but I had to give her a past and personality to match the decisions I knew she'd have to make.

    I don't plot much, but I always have an idea of where my story is going. And I give my characters a detailed past, even if the elements of that past are never revealed in the story.

    I'm sure you can figure it out. Don't rework the entire plot if you like where the story is headed. Rework the character so the decision she makes is logical for her.

    Just a thought. Then again, I still haven't finished my WIP even after I changed heroines.

  3. Thanks so much for the support, ladies! I am literally surrounded by paper and sticky notes right now, lol!

    Lily, your idea about the character change to fit the plot rather than the other way round is genius! I have to go back to the beginning on TWO books, I am feeling thoroughly depressed. I love most of the scenes and don't want to rip them out because I like the story so much. If I can change the character slightly and her all-important motivation, it should work...she says!

    R x

  4. Rachel, I'm a newbie so take that into account, but when I fall into the pit I take a walk, and drag the responsible character with me so we can hash things out. Just a thought.

  5. As the person who made those comments, I wanted to leave my apologies. I didn't mean to throw you into a panic. I really hate telling people the bad stuff. I try so hard to soften the blow as much as possible, because I know how much it can make the heart sink. It always makes me have to take a step back, because I immediately get a bad case of, "I can't do this." If it helps, I think the basic story is solid. I don't think you need to completely rewrite. I really think it just needs tweaked. I had to do this with Logan. When I originally finished the book, he wasn't fleshed out and something about him bugged me. He felt two-dimensional. So I sat down one day, copied the entire story into another file (so I could revert back to the original if I hated what I did,)then started at the beginning and started fleshing him out. I'm fairly certain I went overboard on the details for a while. I think you told me to cut a lot in the end. But about halfway through his character started to really emerge. I even figured out what his backstory was, so I had to go back and revise parts of the plot. But it changed how I saw him completely. Funny enough, the last piece of the puzzle with him came when I changed his name and the setting of the book. When he became Michael Brant, his whole character completely opened up.

    Anyway, don't fret this. The other ladies are right--you can totally do this. Start small. Start with one chapter, say, and see how you feel about it.

  6. BTW--I've written I think 9 books now, and I'm convinced that every one is different and in every one I learn something new. None of them yet leave me with that, "piece of cake, I got totally got this!" feeling. It wasn't until Alex and Angela got that contract that I wasn't sure that book didn't completely suck.

  7. Hey, missy, don't feel guilty!! I am GLAD you brought the points up - they make complete sense to me in every way.

    It's fine, honestly - I have a good think about both the books today and I know it is more character and motivation tweaking than anything else now, which is great. First of all, I was thinking plot but it's not, it's motivation.

    I am a lot happier than I was 24 hours ago :)

    Rachel x

  8. Rachel,
    I don't have any advice to offer that hasn't already been given, but I wanted to say I sympathize with you. I'm currently having the same problem with my WIP. After reading through the first 10 chapters I realized the conflict is a little blah and the heroine acted completely out of character in a couple of places. I'm thinking that happened because I just wanted to get words on the page.

    Hang in there. :o)

  9. GMC - Honest to God, I don't even think about it, and it somehow works out. I think tweaking the character is your best bet. Give her a reasone to make the decision she made. You might find she's much stronger for it in the long run. Best of luck with rewites. I know you can do it!

  10. Thanks for the help, ladies! Jannine, it's definitely more character tweaking needed than plot :)

    R x

  11. Ah I'll sit over here and see what everyone has to say. I still struggle with that issue. Hugs and I'm positive you'll get it worked out in time.

  12. I'm facing that exact problem now. So far, I've managed to get one scene of conflict down and that was simply by going back and changing a characters reaction to a situation that could have gone anywhere.
    Now, I just have to keep doing that. It's not easy and considering I had to cull 70k off my manuscript to make it eligible for submission, I am starting to ask myself, 'Why?'. But I know why I keep going.
    First, I love my book. And I want to see it published.
    Second, its related to my next two novels and vital to set up a back story.
    Thirdly, a publisher pointed this problem out to me and has encouraged me to re-sub as they loved my book bar a lack of GMC.

    I just realized this is a very old post, But here's me hoping you succeeded in solving your problems. :)

    Whitney K-E