Assignment #4: GMC
Your next assignment goes hand in hand with assignment 3. GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) is another peek at into the mind of your character. It’s also a great reference point to make sure each scene is moving the story forward based on these things.
I’m going to be honest and say I have a really hard time wrapping my brain around GMC before I write. I can tell you the GMC of any of my characters in books I’ve already written, but when it comes to characters I haven’t written yet or am writing now, I just can’t get GMC to work for me. That’s not to say I don’t know them in some roundabout way, because I do and it’s what I work toward while writing. But condensing it into three key pieces before the book is done is really difficult for me. If this is you, too, that’s okay! I’m a firm believer in trying new crafting tools, but not forcing anything that’s obviously not working for you.
That said, I have a lot of friends for whom this works fantastically, and you might be one of those. If that’s the case, let’s get down to it.
GMC is really very simple at its base. It consists of:
S/he wants X (goal) because Y (motivation) but Z (conflict).
My friend, Ellis Leigh, likes to use this very basic example:
He wants to get laid (goal) because it feels good (motivation) but his pants are in the way (conflict).
She also says, “But that example is super shallow. Some GMCs should be deep. Like, if a character wants to be married, the writer needs to unpack that. What does marriage represent to them? What is it that fuels that need? There’s a base desire at hand, more than love. Usually it’s something like security (physical, emotional, financial).”
I have smart friends.
So delving deeper into your characters’ goals and motivations could come directly from the character questionnaire you filled out, or vice versa. See how all this stuff works together?
For a more in depth look at GMC, check out Debra Dixon’s book. It’s something I own and a book that comes highly recommended. This blog post also goes much more in depth on GMC and may be helpful to some of you!
If you have a favorite GMC reference, don’t be shy! Share it in the comments.