GMC: Looking at the G

Besides Brandilyn Collins’ Getting into Character, I am also reading Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. These two are excellent books to read in tandem, since they sort of feed off one another.

Today I thought I’d blog about the G in GMC – which is Goal. Every main character in a book should have a goal – both internal and external. Debra says this goal needs to urgent and/or incredibly important. There should also be serious consequences attached to each goal. The “So what?” addendum. If this character doesn’t accomplish this particular goal, so what? Is the consequence big enough to make the reader care?
Once we have the G’s established, we need to make them evident right off the bat. We don’t want to leave our reader guessing what it is our character wants. This is all so incredibly obvious…. in hindsight. Now that I’m reading about it, I’m having a fun time searching for the G’s in the books and movies I read and watch.
For enjoyment, I’m reading Reclaiming Nick, by Christian fiction author, Susan May Warren. Right away (in the first chapter), she establishes the goals for all three of her main characters (MCs). I was amazed at how effectively she accomplishes this!
Nick’s goal: Make sure Cole St. James doesn’t set foot on Silver Buckle land (external) and make amends for his past choices (internal)
Piper’s goal: prove that Nick Noble lied and framed her brother for murder (external) and in the process, find healing/forgiveness for not believing her brother (internal)
Maggie’s goal: to claim the land Bishop Noble left them (external) and start a new season of hope with her family (internal)
The author really just lays it out, doesn’t she?
I decided, before I start plotting out my next idea, that I need to have my MC’s goals firmly established. Remember how I said these two craft books I’m reading feed into one another? Well, currently, I’m having a hard time figuring out what my hero and heroine’s goals are going to be… especially the heroine. In order to discover them, I’m going to utilize Collins’ interview strategy. I’m making some progress with Gavin – but I haven’t quite hit rock bottom yet. I’m patiently waiting for his cooperation so I can discover what it is that makes him tick. And hopefully, in the process, figure out his goals for the story.
Questions to ponder: So what about you? Do your MCs have goals? Are they working toward something? Are the goals important enough? Are there consequences for not meeting them? How do you establish these goals for the reader? And if you feel like it, please share your MC’s goals!


13 thoughts on “GMC: Looking at the G

  1. […] enough of them together, all working toward your character’s story objective (see GMC: Looking at the G), then you’ve got a strongly structured, well-paced novel. […]

  2. […] 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) […]

  3. […] Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, Debra Dixon says the goal is the what (to learn more, check out the G in GMC), the motivation is the why (to learn more, check out the M in GMC), and the conflict is the why […]

  4. […] few days ago, I blogged about the G in GMC. The G is the goal, or the what. What is my character working toward throughout the course of the […]

  5. Katie

    That's great Krista! Thanks for sharing! Curious as to what Jenny's motivation is (the M in GMC). I'm thinking something bad happened to her when she was five? That would be excellent motivation. I'm going to blog about the M soon! so make sure you come on back!

  6. Krista Phillips

    Goals. *grin* I can tell you are learning about these, LOL.

    My goal for Jenny in my first book is "safety." Jenny, since she was five, has tried to be as safe as she can be. She is scared of anything out of the norm or that holds any level of physical risk.

    Her goal changes as she grows. Eventually, she realizes that she needs to take babysteps and risk to get reward. But when a stalker shows up, and she thinks it might be the guy she met in a chatroom, *gasp* This obviously throws her for a loop. (which would be conflict) I continue to throw bad situations at her that challenge her and make her feel VERY unsafe, all the while testing her newfound, "trust in God" So, in the end, her goal is to overcome her fear.

    I guess if I had to define internal and external. I'd say internal was trusting in God and external was getting over her compulsion to have everything nice/neat/safe.

  7. Katie

    I'm glad the post has been helpful! Thanks for visiting ladies! Hopefully you are discovering your MC's goals – both internal and external!

  8. T. Anne

    That's a great thing for me to do today go over my Character goals, thanks.

  9. Marybeth Poppins

    Thanks to my wonderful sounding board called my husband, I just got in all the goals of my characters, I hope. I did almost miss one.

    This is a great post and something to definitely think about in my next book. I like the 'plot board' idea!

  10. Wendy

    Goals, yes. Now thinking on some secondary characters that might not have important enough goals, or I may just need to make it more obvious.

    Thanks for the thought!
    ~ Wendy

  11. Jill Kemerer

    Great post Katie! I'm laughing because my main characters always have goals, but I only learned last year that the goals needed to be clearly conveyed to the reader very early in the book. When it was pointed out to me, I could practically see the lightbulb switch on!GMC is a great book. I'm currently reading a book by Nancy Kress on characterization–so far it's terrific.

  12. sherrinda

    Hhmmm, I didn't know you needed both an external AND an internal goal. I keep learning sooo much, it is sometimes overwhelming. Though, looking at my WIP, I suppose I do have both for both my H&H. Whew! (not ready to share though…mainly because of time crunch this morning) 😉

  13. Erica Vetsch

    Wow, huge strides! I don't start a book without re-reading GMC. I love it that you're waiting for Gavin to cooperate with you re the interview and his goals.

    I use a plot board when doing a rough plot of a new book, and each character has a GMC box, with a slight twist in that they also have a spiritual lesson/goal to learn.


Comments are closed.