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    Default Lesson Four

    Lesson Four >>
    GMC: Goals, Motivation and Conflict

    We've already touched on GMC because it is so vital in
    characterization and plot.
    Here is the definition of goal.
    Goal:

    The goal is what the character wants to achieve, something they
    desire or are passionate about. Something they will go to great
    lengths to obtain. The character will take action to reach their
    goal. The character will not give up because it is essential to their
    well being, their happiness that they reach this goal. By doing this,
    the character is motivated and determined to keep control of his/her
    life.
    This is kind of character is someone a reader can care about.

    And when a character takes action, it creates plot.

    The above sentence is vitally important. Post it by your computer if
    you need to.
    I know some of this material may sound simple, but understanding the
    why and how character and plot go together will build the strong
    foundation of the story, which is the goal as writers.

    When I first started writing I hated plotting. Why? Because I didn't
    understand it, nor how it affected characterization. It took years
    for me to see and learn how it works. I'm still learning.

    Urgency
    Is there a sense of urgency in your plot? Debra Dixon says urgent can
    simply mean something that requires immediate attention. Urgency
    helps push the character toward their goal. For me, it also helps
    keep me focused on the story goal instead of going off on a tangent
    and wasting time.

    If we can keep the readers turning the pages, giving them a
    breathtaking ride, they will return to buy our books.

    How do you accomplish this?
    By not letting your character have what they want. The temptation is
    great make thing easy, but don't give in. If you do, the story will
    fall flat.
    Remember, each time the stakes rise it becomes harder for the
    character, they are pushed to reach the goal because their happiness
    is at stake.

    Romance
    The romance is another conflict for the characters to add to the
    other plot problems tossed at them. The characters are rewarded with
    their happily-ever-after (HEA) because of the obstacles we put them
    through.

    Sometimes the original goal for the character changes, which is fine,
    but make sure the reasons for the change is clear. This can also stop
    to the urgency you've created, make sure this doesn't happen. Think
    about the new goal and its impact on the character. Does it
    seamlessly blend in with what you've created so far?

    In all goals, the characters have to care about their goal, it must
    be important to them. Example: Maggie has two small children. She
    needs a job and money to buy food. This is important, urgent for this
    character. We can sympathize and/or empathize with her. Food and
    shelter are basic necessities of life.

    Be sure the goals of the hero/heroine conflict with each other and
    the villain. All of these character have their own desires and a
    plan on getting what they want. I'm sure you know that the villain
    can't be a wimp. He/she must not be totally evil. Paranormal romance
    is a bit different, especially the darker stuff that is becoming
    popular. Read books and keep up-to-date on publisher guidelines.

    Definition of External Goal: External is something that is concrete.
    You can touch, taste, smell, see and hear. It's physical.

    Definition of Internal Goal: Internal is something that affects the
    emotions, spirituality, life lessons.

    To have a character that is three dimensional they need both internal
    and external goals.

    From: Prescription for Plotting by Carolyn Greene. This is what I
    use, or am mindful of when I plot. Others may use another tool which
    is fine as long as it works for you. I hope you can see how the
    threads tie together when you look at this. I highly recommend
    Carolyn's plotting workbook along with Deb Dixon's GMC book.

    From Carolyn Greene’s Plotting Workbook

    Opening scene: This is the point where the character's world is
    changed.
    Inciting incident
    : The goal that pushes the character to act.
    Lead up to first plot point/turning point: Character can still be
    refusing to accept the change and their part of the adventure.
    First major plot point/turning point: The character is committed and
    pulled into the story problem.
    Pinch #1-this is the tightening that occurs from the first plot point
    Midpoint- for romance this is where emotional commitment or possibly
    physical commitment occurs. The build up has risen to this point.
    Hero/heroine's journey has sifted from self. The point of no return
    Pinch # 2 (downward arc of character development) the tightening
    begins as things fall apart and refers to first Pinch.
    Second Major plot point/turning point (heading toward crisis)
    Conflicts of the hero and heroine blend in both internal and external
    as an event or series of them. Ex. Hero and heroine can't be together
    because of _____ and they're kicking themselves for opening up their
    heart and trusting another.
    Dark Moment/Crisis: At the very bottom and all looks like it's lost
    and a hard, difficult choice must be made. When the reader is
    wondering how can the character get out of this mess or will they?
    The choices are ugly and cut to the core of the character.
    Climax/Resolution of main conflicts: The supreme sacrifice has been
    made. By making the choice to take the hard way, the hero/heroine
    have faced their worst fear, sacrificed their focus on themselves and
    the beginning and have now embraced a new goal. A life together.
    Final Scene/Epilogue: By risking everything the hero and heroine are
    better off than when they started including having their internal
    needs met and the story question raised at the beginning of the book
    is answered. They are complete now they have each other and have
    learned life lessons making them wiser.


    Motivation:

    Romance author and instructor, Alicia Rasley says: "Motivation is the
    fuel, powering the characters as its close relation conflict powers
    the plot. Motivation engenders goals, and goals cause conflict, and
    conflict causes action, and pretty soon you have a pretty terrific
    plot there—and it all starts with your character wanting something
    for some reason even they might not even understand."
    Alicia continues, "Plot is character in action, and motivation is
    what inspires characters to take action. Motivation however cannot
    simply be a mechanical device, interchangeable from one character to
    another."

    Debra Dixon says, "Motivation is your story's foundation."

    Why? Because proper motivation is what pushes the character to act
    and the reader to live the story through the character in the world
    you've created. All of the decisions and actions should be motivated.
    Characters can have more than one motivation, which will add to making
    them three dimensional.

    Not all of your characters can want the same thing. And through the
    course of the story, the character's goal can change as they grow;
    you do need to make sure this clear to the reader. This is where the
    charts you filled out come in handy. The more information you have,
    the more layers to the character there are, thus making them more
    believable, more real.

    Just like a real person, characters have internal motivation and
    external motivation.
    Internal comes from inside the character—emotions, fears, desire.
    External are the forces outside of the character. The internal
    motivation is something intensely personal—a past relationship or
    event and should be strong enough to evoke a need that has stayed
    long term to have this affect.

    If you can see, touch, taste, smell, hear...it's physical, external.

    Debra Dixon in her book GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict has this
    to say about motivation—"Motivation is what drives your character to
    obtain or achieve his goal...Keep it simple. Keep it strong. Keep it
    focused. Make the reader understand why the characters make the
    choices they make."

    Conflict

    Conflict is the struggle of your characters in the story for what
    they want/desire. Without tension/conflict, you have no plot. This is
    so important, I'm going to say it again – If you don't have conflict,
    you have no story. If you write commercial fiction conflict must be
    there.

    In romance sexual tension is conflict. The characters not wanting a
    relationship but are drawn into it, is conflict. Don't let this
    lovely sizzling tension/conflict go to waste. I'm not just talking
    about the hotter romances. Make the reader feel the attraction, the
    emotion. Later on we go into more detail on sexual tension.

    Conflict isn't always physical. It can be two people against each
    other. Argument or quarrel between lovers or enemies. What is common
    is opposing goals with the proper motivation. Conflict is also
    excitement It gives life to the story.

    Don't forget that even lighter books have conflict.

    When writing conflict it needs to be clear, just as character goals
    must be clear. If you have anything in the story that doesn't advance
    the plot, get rid of it. Make a folder for those deleted scenes,
    description whatever. You might be able to use it for something else
    or pull pieces as you edit later on.

    The events you set up must be logical to make the story believable.
    In fiction we really need to take extra care when plotting conflict.
    Things must happen for a reason in the story. Story logic for the
    character is the writer not really why or thinking through how a
    character is there. Examining the background and what forces molded
    the character gives you the tools you need for putting the
    hero/heroine in front of the opposing force needed for the story.

    Conflict lets your character prove his/her worthiness. Think of
    various ways to continue to push your character into conflict since
    it provides excitement, tests the character in ways where you can
    make them stronger and more heroic as well as providing sympathy from
    the reader.

    Some writers are afraid to be mean to their characters. I used to be
    one of them. It took a few years, but I got over it and now I really
    have fun when I write. This fear held me back in characterization
    too. I had to keep reminding myself my characters were not real
    people, that I was the creator and in control of the story.
    By learning how to fun with plotting, writing became richer and more
    exciting.

    Rising action: The complications should rise each time, testing the
    character more and more along with the choices becoming more
    difficult and personal.

    Jack Bickham in The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes says, "In
    conflict, your character has a chance to change the course of
    events." He goes on to comment, "Make sure you have two characters
    involved and give them opposing goals." I think this one of the
    reasons I love writing romance so much. Hero wants one thing, heroine
    the other and then the sparks fly!

    Internal conflict is emotional. It keeps your character from learning
    the lesson he/she need to grow by the end of the story. For romance
    the characters end up with a compromise they can live with. If they
    can't, then no happy-ever-ending.

    Heroes and heroines who are not perfect satisfy the reader because
    they can see how far the character has come to overcome obstacles
    thrown in their way. The goal the character wants at the beginning of
    the book may change by the end of the book or their point of view may
    have changed as they begin to learn their lesson/lessons on this
    voyage you've designed.

    When writing you can have a constant, unrelenting conflict or you
    will numb the reader with too much stimulation. This is where sequel
    comes in to give the reader and character a chance to catch their
    breath. Scene and sequel will be discussed later.


    Plot
    Stimulus and Response

    Many writers have problems with this area. You might get some of this
    and but not all. Don't worry. If you do know this, then that's
    wonderful.

    Stimulus and response makes actions clear and with purpose. Knowing
    how to recognize this will make the story easier to understand.

    I'm going back to Bickham because he explains this so beautifully
    from the 38 Most Common Mistakes page 31:
    A character must have an immediate, physical cause for what he does.
    This immediate stimulus cannot be merely a thought in his head, for
    readers to believe many transactions, they have to be shown a
    stimulus to action that is outside of the character—some kind of prod
    that is onstage right now. So for every response you desire in a
    character, you must provide an immediate stimulus.

    Example: Janet walked through the door. The lamp crashed to the floor.

    A lot of information is missing in the example. Why did the lamp
    crash to the floor?
    Janet walked through the door and sat down on the sofa sinking into
    the plump cushions. Her eyes closed for just a moment.
    The hair electrified at the back of her neck, her eyes flew open. A
    man dressed in black appeared in the doorway. A large, shiny knife
    slowly twirled in his hand.

    Too scared to scream, Janet jumped to her feet, her arm jerked
    causing the lamp to crash the floor.

    Bickham continues: Stimulus-response transactions are external. The
    response that completes the transaction must come externally, if the
    interaction is to continue. Only if the interaction of the characters
    is to end immediately can the response be wholly internal.

    Make sure you don't toss your character more than one stimuli to
    respond to. It makes it difficult to follow along and not get lost
    when you're reading. Like in tennis, the ball goes back and forth.
    The same with stimulus and response.

    If stimulus and response aren't clear, then the reader will think
    things are happening for no reason.


    Remember if you have any questions, please post them.

    Best,
    Polly


    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
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    Hi Polly,
    The way you present this is very easy to follow. I like your summary from Carolyn Greene's Plotting Workbook - I love putting my characters in dire straits but it's figuring ingenious ways for them to get themselves out that trips me up.
    Debra Dixon's take on Motivation and Conflict is very helpful too.
    Motivation is fine for me - my characters are driven by something strong, but getting Rising Action right is still a problem. I have crises occur but getting them in a cresendo is not something I've mastered. (although no one has mentioned it). You know what I mean. I think my character's problems might begin too strong then stay on the same level.
    My crises plateau out.

    "Make sure you don't toss your character more than one stimuli to
    respond to. It makes it difficult to follow along and not get lost
    when you're reading. "

    This advice is golden for me. It's so easy to overload the reader at one point, in order for the writer to get on with the story. The trouble is the reader is stuck, having to work too hard. She'll either skim or give up.

    About Bickham's Stimulus - what he sees (=comes from 5 senses) external and objective; and Response - what he does. (from the 4 points Emotion/Reflex/Rational Action/Speech to be kept in that order) internal-external and subjective. Stimulus and Response must have their own paragraphs
    That's what I've picked up. I might have it wrong since that's not quite your take on Response, is it? This is something I've been grappling with for years and would love to get it sorted out once and for all.

    Your lessons have reminded me that it might be a nice idea if I consciously apply this Stimulus and Response to my writing. lol.
    Polly, you should have seen how flat my exercise-scene was before I took notice of your lessons. Just action without emotion.
    Looking forward to lesson 5. Any more exercises?
    Rusty
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dragon View Post
    Hi Polly,
    The way you present this is very easy to follow. I like your summary from Carolyn Greene's Plotting Workbook - I love putting my characters in dire straits but it's figuring ingenious ways for them to get themselves out that trips me up.
    Debra Dixon's take on Motivation and Conflict is very helpful too.
    Motivation is fine for me - my characters are driven by something strong, but getting Rising Action right is still a problem. I have crises occur but getting them in a cresendo is not something I've mastered. (although no one has mentioned it). You know what I mean. I think my character's problems might begin too strong then stay on the same level.
    My crises plateau out.

    "Make sure you don't toss your character more than one stimuli to
    respond to. It makes it difficult to follow along and not get lost
    when you're reading. "

    This advice is golden for me. It's so easy to overload the reader at one point, in order for the writer to get on with the story. The trouble is the reader is stuck, having to work too hard. She'll either skim or give up.

    About Bickham's Stimulus - what he sees (=comes from 5 senses) external and objective; and Response - what he does. (from the 4 points Emotion/Reflex/Rational Action/Speech to be kept in that order) internal-external and subjective. Stimulus and Response must have their own paragraphs
    That's what I've picked up. I might have it wrong since that's not quite your take on Response, is it? This is something I've been grappling with for years and would love to get it sorted out once and for all.

    Your lessons have reminded me that it might be a nice idea if I consciously apply this Stimulus and Response to my writing. lol.
    Polly, you should have seen how flat my exercise-scene was before I took notice of your lessons. Just action without emotion.
    Looking forward to lesson 5. Any more exercises?
    Rusty
    Hi Rusty,
    I'm so glad the exercises and lessons are helping.

    What part of stimulus/response is giving you problems?
    Stimulus, response, internalization.

    Or is it the order of the transaction?

    One stimulus = one response

    Each time you conclude a stimulus, make a new paragraph because the stimulus has its own paragraph and the response has its own.
    IF you have more than one stimulus (From Bickham)
    1. All parts of the stimulus package go in the same paragraph. When the stimulus ends, the paragraph ends.

    2. If more more than one stimulus is ent, thje responder will always react to the last stimulus sent.

    Does this help?


    I'll be posting the next lesson in a few minutes.

    Best,
    Polly
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
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    revision

    thank you for this lesson.

    Recently, I worked on adding more conflict in one of my lighter whimsical stories. It was tough for me. I thought I'd lose the carefree feel of the story, but I didn't.
    I'm learning to add more of it. i'm good at external conflict but I have to work at internal conflict.
    Take care,
    Debbie

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    Quote Originally Posted by joviangeldeb View Post
    thank you for this lesson.

    i'm good at external conflict but I have to work at internal conflict.
    Hi Debbie,
    About internal conflict -- you and me both! Isn't it so easy to focus on physical action and what the characters see and forget what is going on inside them - what's making them act as they do. I've found these lessons very helpful, too.
    Rusty
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dragon View Post
    Hi Debbie,
    About internal conflict -- you and me both! Isn't it so easy to focus on physical action and what the characters see and forget what is going on inside them - what's making them act as they do. I've found these lessons very helpful, too.
    Rusty
    Yes. I get so caught up in their actions that I often forget even to put scene descriptions. I'm getting better at that though. My critique girls are wonderful to point that out.
    Take care,
    Debbie

    Firefae, coming 1/29/10 at http://www.wilderroses.com
    GET A TASTE OF SAJE
    Saje: available at, http://www.wilderroses.com - Scarlet line/The Wild Rose Press

    http://myspace.com/debbiemacklin
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    Hi Debbie,
    Well you are on the right track with action. How often do see pages of dialogue without setting or action. It's just talking heads. At the moment I'm working on adding reaction to follow the action. I've realised there's more to jumping off a sinking ship than just getting wet.
    Do you write Romance? I'm writing fantasy.
    Rusty
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dragon View Post
    Hi Debbie,
    Well you are on the right track with action. How often do see pages of dialogue without setting or action. It's just talking heads. At the moment I'm working on adding reaction to follow the action. I've realised there's more to jumping off a sinking ship than just getting wet.
    Do you write Romance? I'm writing fantasy.
    Rusty
    Hi. I write fae fantasy romance and erotica. Love stories with fairies and humans. What kind of fantasy do you write?
    Take care,
    Debbie

    Firefae, coming 1/29/10 at http://www.wilderroses.com
    GET A TASTE OF SAJE
    Saje: available at, http://www.wilderroses.com - Scarlet line/The Wild Rose Press

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    Quote Originally Posted by joviangeldeb View Post
    Yes. I get so caught up in their actions that I often forget even to put scene descriptions. I'm getting better at that though. My critique girls are wonderful to point that out.
    Hi Debbie,

    Having a great critique group is worth its weight in gold to a writer.

    Isn't it wonderful that we can go back and layer in details and make our stories richer?

    Best,
    Polly
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
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    Yeah

    Quote Originally Posted by Tambra View Post
    Hi Debbie,

    Having a great critique group is worth its weight in gold to a writer.

    Isn't it wonderful that we can go back and layer in details and make our stories richer?

    Best,
    Polly
    I agree. It is wonderful to have a great crit group. I belong to ff&p's critique group and they are a wonderful group of authors.

    Adding more conflict in my short story really helped me. I now have a publisher interested in it. They asked for me to do some revisions and resubmit, so I did. Waiting on word.
    Take care,
    Debbie

    Firefae, coming 1/29/10 at http://www.wilderroses.com
    GET A TASTE OF SAJE
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