GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon was a great help to me in writing my novel. GMC was clear and concise and had great examples. It’s the perfect learning tool and resource for any aspiring writer.
I actually started reading this book a year or so ago. Her first two chapters alone gave me five pages of useful handwritten notes. I got so excited after reading them that I stopped to implement what I learned in the novel I was writing.
I continued to read GMC as I continued to write, and it totally changed my story for the better. I went from a wishy-washy commander of a starship who floundered because of a near-career-ending incident to one that was more driven to overcome his near-failure so that he wouldn’t have to return home to a mundane life and to a critical father who had other career plans for him.
The points that most helped me realize I needed to fix my story all revolve around defining character goals, motivations, and the conflicts they will encounter that try to keep them from their goals. A quote from the book says, “Goals should be important enough for the character to act against his own best interest and to endure hardship if necessary. “Important enough” means that there will be unpleasant consequences if the goal is not achieved.” Paraphrasing, it also says that a sense of urgency must be set right away, and that you must push your characters to the wall and force them to take action.
Knowing about goals, motivations, and conflict (GMC) isn’t always enough. Dixon helps by giving examples of the GMCs in well-known movies. She has also designed a wonderful GMC chart that can be used to organize the GMCs of all your primary characters and for each of your scenes.
My only dislike of this book was there were a couple of chapters I felt were superfluous. One was specifically titled “This and That”. Though this chapter may be helpful to others, it was not related to the overall topic of the book. I’m not sure if Dixon added it because she thought it would be helpful or if she felt she needed to add more content to her book.
If you’re a writer and are wondering what you need in order to give your book some umph, read through GMC and take notes. Then put this book on your shelf for later reference.