LESSON THREE>>
Characterization and Plot>>
GMC:>>
Goals, Motivation and Conflict>>
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Weíve already touched on GMC because it is so vital in characterization and plot.
Here is the definition of goal.
Goal:>>
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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.
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And when a character takes action, it creates plot. >>
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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.
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When I first started writing I hated plotting. Why? Because I didnít understand it, nor how it affected characterization. It took years for me to see and learn how it works. Iím still learning.
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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.
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If we can keep the readers turning the pages, giving them a breathtaking ride, they will return to buy our books.
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How do you accomplish this?
By not letting your character have what they want. The temptation is great make thing easy, but donít 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.
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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.
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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 youíve created, make sure this doesnít happen. Think about the new goal and its impact on the character. Does it seamlessly blend in with what youíve created so far?
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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.
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Be sure the goals of the hero/heroine conflict with each other and the villain. All of these characters have their own desires and a plan on getting what they want. Iím sure you know that the villain canít 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.
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Definition of External Goal: External is something that is concrete. You can touch, taste, smell, see and hear. Itís physical.
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Definition of Internal Goal: Internal is something that affects the emotions, spirituality, life lessons.
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To have a character that is three dimensional they need both internal and external goals.
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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 Carolynís plotting workbook along with Deb Dixonís GMC book.
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Opening scene: This is the point where the characterís 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/heroineís 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 canít be together because of _____ and theyíre kicking themselves for opening up their heart and trusting another.
Dark Moment/Crisis: At the very bottom and all looks like itís 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.