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Thread: Lesson Three

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    Default Lesson Three

    LESSON THREE>>
    Characterization and Plot>>
    GMC:>>
    Goals, Motivation and Conflict>>
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    We’ve 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 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.
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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 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.
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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 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?
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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. 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.
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    Definition of External Goal: External is something that is concrete. You can touch, taste, smell, see and hear. It’s 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 Carolyn’s plotting workbook along with Deb Dixon’s GMC book.
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    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.
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
  2. Tambra's Avatar
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    #2

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    Motivation:>>
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    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.”
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    Debra Dixon says, “Motivation is your story’s foundation.”
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    If you can see, touch, taste, smell, hear...it’s physical, external.
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    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.”
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    Conflict>>
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Don’t forget that even lighter books have conflict.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Rising action: The complications should rise each time, testing the character more and more along with the choices becoming more difficult and personal.
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    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!
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net

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