Final Post on GMC

This will be my last post on GMC. Sad, I know. If you’re interested in purchasing Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon, click on the link to purchase it. It’s really an eye-opening read.

I thought for my closing post, we could do a little recap.

G stands for goal. Every main character needs one. External and Internal. What does your character want? And what’s at stake if your MC doesn’t reach her goal? The higher the stakes, the better. (check out the G in GMC)

M stands for motivation. Every goal needs one. Why does your character want what he wants? The motivation needs to be believable. You can make your character want anything, as long as the motivation behind the goal is compelling. (check out the M in GMC)

C stands for conflict. Every story needs one. What stands in the way of your character reaching her goals? (check out the C in GMC)

Every scene you write needs to advance your character’s GMC in some way. If one of your scenes doesn’t address a G, or an M, or a C, then you must ask yourself, why is the scene in the book?

Some fun little, helpful add-ons Debra Dixon includes within the GMC chart are: a tag line and a dominant impression. She writes the tag line above the chart and the dominant impression below the character’s name.

The tag line is the overall theme, or message of the story. This can be stated in one sentence.

The dominant impression is two words – an adjective and a noun – describing the essence of your character. For the adjective, you want to avoid physical description. I love the dominant impression, because it’s an excellent two-word description to go back to when checking for character consistency.

Here are the examples Debra gives from the movie, The Wizard of Oz
Tag line: There’s no place like home.
Dominant impression (Dorothy): unhappy teenager

The GMC is the road map to your story, guiding you as you work through the plot. Once you have a strong, focused GMC, writing the elevator pitch for your novel is a piece of cake.

The basic outline of an elevator pitch: Character wants (goal) because (motivation), but (conflict).

Here’s an example from Beneath a Velvet Sky, my third novel:
An up and coming architect wants to associate herself with the innovation and grandeur she never knew as a child. But when tragedy forces her home, her ambitions are challenged by an estranged best friend, a farm she doesn’t want, and the handsome man who lives there.

Here’s an example from The Wizard of Oz:
An unhappy teenager wants to get home because her aunt is sick, but first she must fight a witch and win her broom in order to get help from the wizard.

Today’s Challenge:
I thought it might be fun to play around with some GMCs. Here’s the only rule: no using whatever you are currently working on. Make something up! Have fun! Think of something outrageous. Something heart-wrenching. Something absurd. What GMCs are rolling around in your mind today?

Here’s my crack at it:
Dominant impression: sensitive writer (AKA Jimmy John)
Goal: to win a pie eating contest and prove he’s a man
Motivation: to show his dad that skinny guys can eat too
Conflict: he has the appetite of a bird and he’s competing against his big, burly brother who has the appetite of a horse

Elevator Pitch: A sensitive writer wants to win the local pie eating contest in order to prove to his dad that he’s a man, but he’s never been able to eat more than a sugar snap pea without getting full, and he’s competing against his big brother, a world champion sumo wrestler.

If that’s not the next best seller, I don’t know what is. Have fun!removetweetmeme

13 thoughts on “Final Post on GMC

  1. careann

    The acronym GMC used to conjure up a vehicular image for me, which I guess still applies to "Goal, Motivation and Conflict" as it does a great job of transporting the writer through the steps of creating a good novel. πŸ™‚

  2. Jeannie Campbell

    GMC…great read. sad i'm done with it, as well. will keep it handy for future WIPS, no doubt! πŸ™‚

  3. Erica Vetsch

    That was a great recap of GMC. I try to re-read it before I do any plotting of a new WIP.

    Good thing it's a fast read. πŸ™‚

  4. Katie

    That'll be a good one. Nice premise. πŸ™‚

  5. Ralene

    Yep…it's a novel I put on the back burner to simmer while I write the first draft of my WIP.

  6. Katie

    Ralene – is that something you're going to write? Sounds pretty intense!

    Aw, Cindy, I'm blushing. Thanks. I'm glad my blog has been helpful to you. πŸ™‚

    Eileen – you and me both. I need to make mine stronger too!

    Jill – a jungle reality show?! That's every recluse's dream come true, isn't it? πŸ˜‰ Thanks for playing!

    Glad to hear it T. Anne!

    Jody – it's definitely a book to have on hand. It's one of those books that'll have you saying, "Well duh! Why didn't I realize that before!" It's super good and something you can start using right away. Let me know how you like it!

    Thanks Jessica. I just hope an agent likes the pitch as well. πŸ™‚

  7. Jessica

    LOL Your examples are too cute! Thanks for the breakdown on GMC. Now I'm off to check my scenes… LOL

    Your pitch sounds great.

  8. Jody Hedlund

    You have absolutely convinced me to track down this book! Thanks for all of your posts on it! I love hearing about the craft books other writers are delving into! And great job on your elevator pitch!

  9. T. Anne

    I'm so thankful you did this review so well and indepth for us! I for one benefited greatly.

  10. Jill Kemerer

    GMC rocks!! Okay, my kids are whining right now, but I'm going to try a quick elevator pitch.

    A hypochondriac recluse wants to buy the town's haunted mansion, but the cute owner will only sell it to him if he agrees to be her partner in a jungle reality show.

  11. Eileen Astels Watson

    I studied this concept awhile back. It really is helpful. Now I just need to make them all stronger.

  12. Cindy

    Thanks for summing this us, Katie. I always learn something new and helpful when I visit your blog πŸ˜€

  13. Ralene

    Dominate Impression: repressed daydreamer

    Goal: to break free from the confines of her peasant status

    Elevator Pitch: A repressed daydream want to break free from the confines of her peasant status when she finds a long-hidden key that begins a perilous journey of world-chaning proporitions. Both men and demons will stop at nothing to keep the secret from coming to light and ruining their perfect kingdom.


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