Monday, August 01, 2016

Goal Motivation and Conflict: It'll Help You Create Great Fiction

When you first start a new book, you come up with a bare-bones story that includes the characters and the basic plot. From there, you either start writing or you start plotting, depending on the type of writer you are.



Fairly early on, you realize that you need more than a simple story. If your characters move along happily in life, without a care in the world, your story will quickly become this:



I'd been writing only a couple of years when I attended a workshop that was led by the woman who wrote this book:



Pure genius. Here's how it breaks down: Every character in every story has a goal, a motivation (a reason for having that goal), and a conflict (something standing in the way of reaching that goal). Once you've outlined that, you can create a multilayered story filled with action and excitement.



Each character also has an internal and external GMC. Here's a GMC chart for The Wizard of Oz:



This is the chart you'll create:



While plotting is far more complex, GMC charts can help you get to know your story once you have that initial idea.



Do you have any special techniques you use to plot?

43 comments:

  1. don't chart t out, but I do write done the goal, motivation, and conflict of each character.
    Sorry, typo. IPad auto correct gone wrong!

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    1. I don't really chart it out, either, but I probably should!

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    2. Hahaha. My iPhone auto correct often takes over and types messages I dare not send. I believe I may need to get out my GMC book and have another read.

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  2. I so needed to read this. Ugh! It happens, huh?

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  3. I'm plantser so I start off with the bare idea of a poem then build it out a bit with plots, scenes, backvbackground and backstory as a guide before I start writing.

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    1. I am, too--it isn't easy, but I have to start writing to figure out what the story's going to be.

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  4. I'd thought about making my story a novel, but when I began writing my notes, it sounded more like memoir, so that is what I went with. Though for many years, I'd seen myself as a novel writer.

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    1. Novels are much easier to sell, from what I understand. But I do know of a few authors who have sold their memoirs in recent years.

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    2. I think you need to write what's in your heart or it will (usually) sound forced and your reader will know it. Good for you for following your heart!

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  5. I heard about this book ages ago - sounds excellent! And I love a good chart. :)

    I struggle with plotting in my longer works - it's something I'm working on.

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    1. Charts can be fun...they can turn it into a fun game!

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  6. Dixon is brilliant. I was using her techniques even before I knew she had written that book. She explains things with perfect simplicity.

    For plot arcing, I use the 3 act play as my template.

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    1. She came to our RWA chapter and did a workshop on it. The book had just come out at the time. I felt so lucky to be able to sit in on it!

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  7. Love this! Very helpful for young people in literature classes too that need to see the big picture for exams!

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  8. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing this book, Stephanie.

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  9. Plotting for me was kind of summed up nicely by Ray Bradbury: “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him.” Maybe I need to rethink his advice and give Debra's strategy a closer look. Thanks for the reminder. I know I have that book around here somewhere...

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    1. That sounds like a great idea! I can't find my book--luckily there's enough info. on the Internet about it!

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  10. my characters tend to get boring, thus I write flash fiction - get in and out quickly. Just haven't been able to move into novels. Good post and advice today

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    1. I've never been able to really write short stories, unless their blog posts! It's long fiction or nothing for me, apparently!

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  11. Good post! I think in my early drafts things are too easy for the MC -- if she is looking for something, she finds it. In later drafts, I figure out ways to complicate things.

    Yvonne V

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  12. Writing is difficult to do. Continuity is difficult for some too. It's an art and knowing how a good story is put together is a must. I applaud great authors.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  13. The GMC chart is a great idea! I tend to plot first, fill in later as characters become more defined (or not) as the story grows. Love that quote at the end!

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  14. oh I like this chart! I'm a pantser but I always make sure I have goals and motivation and what's going to stop everything from happening before i dive in!

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  15. A great way to make the characters interesting with depth and drive.

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  16. This is a huge part of acting so I carried it over to writing when I was very young, roughly 19. Goals, obstacles, and internal motivations are HUGE.

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  17. I usually re-read Debra Dixon's Goal Motivation and Conflict to refresh all. Thanks for a great post.

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  18. I use the step outline screenplay method for my novels. Helps me immensely.

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  19. I'm a panster, so the only plotting I do is summarizing the next scene when I end for the night so I don't forget.

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  20. I have never tried this technique- though this does sound like a good one. I will give it a try because it makes sense to me! :)

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  21. Great post, Steph. I've got that book and found it very helpful. I bet Debra gave a great workshop.

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  22. This is good advice. I usually start out with a character or two, what he/she wants, why, and what is keeping her/him from achieving that goal. It varies from time to time.

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  23. I'm still fumbling about in the dark.

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  24. My first thought after reading that quote at the bottom was "Oh my God, I covered my novel with footprints!" Is that supposed to be what I get from that? LOL. Anyway it's very true that characters need conflicts and obstacles to face. Creating trouble for my characters has never been a problem for me. Why am I writing about someone with no conflict? I have conflict just forcing my body out of bed. Sleep is sweet y'all.

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  25. Thanks for sharing this. I like how the GMC is broken down for each character.

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  26. That's a good way to do it. My plotting method is more of the "so many sticky notes and pieces of string that it looks like I'm solving a murder on TV" method.

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  27. I always worry if my characters have a clear goal in place. I mean, it's crystal clear to me, but to an outsider...? =)

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  28. That is a clear guide for writers.

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  29. Excellent advice! I've never been a plotter but should try this technique. Thanks for sharing.

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