Review: Goal, Motivation, & Conflict

GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good FictionGMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was recommended on several separate occasions during a writer’s conference I attended last year. I bought a kindle version of it because that’s the only format I could find, then promptly forgot about it because I’m way more likely to read a physical book than an ebook. I recently found it again thanks to a happy set of circumstances I won’t go into here, and have since read it cover to cover… if ebooks had covers. That in itself gives this book high marks. A lot of craft books are great for reference, but not something you actually sit down and *read*.

Most of the information in GMC was stuff I’d heard at one time or another from seminars, articles, or other books, but it was put together in a clear, concise, easily approachable way that really made it resonate. It’s a pretty quick read, offering examples of successful use of GMC in movies as well as some exercises to help you get the hang of it.

The basic concept is that every character should have a chart showing their internal and external goals, what motivates them toward those goals, and what prevents them from reaching those goals. They should also have a sentence or two that explains what they need to learn in order to succeed and their most distinguishing character traits. Dixon writes, and mostly discusses, romance books, but the GMC framework can, and should, be applied to any genre. It’s basically a tool to make characters deep, realistic, and memorable, and I think most writers would benefit from having it in their toolbox.

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