Monday evening, I attended an event courtesy of the Castle Rock Writers. They host a "One Monday a Month" workshop on writing-related topics.
Multi-published author Pam McCutcheon spoke on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Debra Dixon developed this concept and published it in a workbook type format. If you are a writer of genre fiction, this book should be on your shelf.
Some writing craft books have a philosophical bent. Goal, Motivation and Conflict (GMC) is meant to be put into service. Pam writes fiction, but she also sits on the other side of the desk in her role as an editor for publishers. A lot of the problems she sees could be solved with GMC.
The bare bones premise is that each major character needs their own GMC:
Goal - what they want
Motivation - why they want it
Conflict - why they can't have it
They have an internal and an external GMC. The one is on more of an emotional level while the other is tangible.
Sound simple? Try dissecting your own story, and clearly stating each character's GMC. Don't worry - the book gives plenty of examples from movies you have most likely seen.
Pam emphasized that motivation is the greatest obstacle she sees to creating a good story. She gave the example of the heroine all alone in a spooky house, armed with nothing but a candle, who goes toward the banging sound in the attic. Pam called this the "too stupid to live" heroine. Make the reader believe her motivation by making her flee something worse behind her, that drives her toward the sound in the attic.
"You can make your reader believe anything," Pam said, "if your character has a strong enough motivation."
Pam also discussed the Dominant Impression phrase. This is an adjective + descriptive noun to sum up each major character. For example, Han Solo in Star Wars is a cocky smuggler.
I thought I was almost finished with my newest work-in-progress. I see now that I need to go back and tweak my major characters' GMC. Doing the exercise in class, I realized one character was where she needed to be, another could be strengthened, and the third had several missed opportunities for stronger motivation.
The photo has nothing to do with my blog topic. I thought you might enjoy seeing one of the ice sculptures on display in Cripple Creek last weekend. Despite the warm temperatures, the ice sculptures endured. See more photos in the slideshow below.
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