Here i will share my journey of hopefully one day recognising my dream of becoming published writing what i love to read; Romance!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Conflict or GMC

I've heard this acronym a few times during my blog hopping.
Briefly it means Goal Motivation Conflict.

All our characters come to the story with their own backgrounds, battle scars and inner conflict.
Well, they should do anyway, to make your story and characters believable to your readers.

Kate Walker in her 12 point guide to Writing Romance (excellent book!) tells us that the most important element of conflict is internal, the stuff that goes on in the character's head, the stuff that gives reason to their thoughts and actions. As a writer we must use this internal conflict so show character growth, how they change in order to achieve their HEA.
Kate explains (p 43) that the emotions involved in the characters internal conflict, affect the character's thinking, but they are unaware of them.
The internal conflict comes out when the Hero and Heroine meet and clash, this forces them to each face their own fears or inner demons.

I realised after writing a good 5k of my Status Quo story that i didn't really have a good handle on my characters conflicts.
So using what i've picked up during my blog hopping i tried to break them down.

Goal: What the hero/ine wants
Motivation: Why they want it
Conflict: If the hero/ine wins the other loses.

For me (and i could be very, very wrong!), on examining my characters and some of the books i love, i've found two sets of GMC for each character. (I think this was brought about by the character questionnaire on Nicola Marsh's website!)
The first set is the clear goal and reason that we are given right at the beginning of the story - should be within the first few pages of meeting each of them.
Then as we read, we discover a deeper Goal and motivation - which to me is stemmed from the conflict of the first, but at a deeper layer.
Have i lost you?

Okay, a bit of behind the scenes look to hopefully help explain this!

So in my story Emma wants Matt. They have been best friends for ever and she has been in love with him for just about the same amount of time. But when they kissed on New Years, it was made plain to her that they were made for each other. He stirred her blood in a way no other man had come close to. And that's what she wants.
So Emma's initial GMC is
G: To have Matt,
M: She loves him and he stirs a passion in her she wants for life.
C: they are best friends and she could lose him by insisting on this.

Then as the story develops we learn that deep down Emma's goal is to love and be loved with a passion and foreverness otherwise missing in her life. Her motivation is from  how she felt in Matt's arms, how they are together doing mundane things. Her conflict, is that she may just not be good enough for the type of love and passion she desperately craves, after all her parents seemed to forget about her once they started their separate lives.

So, tell me. Do you think i've completely missed the point, or overcomplicated it?
How do you work out your characters conflict and motivations?


  1. 1) That Kate Walker 12 Point Guide sounds like something I need to pick up :)
    2) I think you have it, especially for a character driven story like a romance.
    3) Your friends to lovers GMC sounds an awful lot like my friends to lovers GMC, LOL. One of my favorite themes.

    As to your question, my character GMC usually comes in the form of "What do they want more than anything else in the world?" followed by "Why?" followed by "Why can't they have/get it?" and I always try to make the answer to that 3rd question the antag's answer to the 1st question. Having said that though, my initial GMC almost always changes as I'm writing that first draft and has to be firmed up in the second draft.

    Another take on the internal GMC is Susan Bischoff: Goal becomes: What lesson does the character need to learn or what change does the character make over the course of the story? Motivation becomes: What allows the character’s lesson to be learned, or makes the change possible? (Think more along the lines of What circumstance will facilitate the change?) And Conflict becomes the teaching moments/scenes in the story. Here's the link: Character Arc

    Good luck!

  2. This is great Kerrin. I'm just re-reading Kate's 12 Points. She's so inspiring. Thanks for how you used it today.

    Just letting you know you're the Runner Up for RFWer this week!