I have been doing lots of research on Conflict and Characterisation to get a handle on GMC and how to create it for my characters - or to understand the root of my characters motivation and conflict. And I stumbled on a few gems - or rather the light switch flicked on somethings for me. You may already know all this, but I thought I'd share it anyway.
G = the Hero or Heroine's goal. What they want or want to avoid
M = their motivation. Why or why not they want their goal
C = what makes is so hard for them to meet their goal - the conflict
Valerie Parv in The Art of Romance Writing breaks GMC down to Problem, Solution and Obstacle. In essence at the beginning of a story your hero/ine has a problem they are about to solve when an obstacle arrived in the form of the hero/ine's wants.
On a website called the Publishing Crawl I discovered that after you have worked out your GMC a great way to test that is sound or strong enough, or plausable sounding, try and combine the GMC into one sentence. It will quickly reveal which part or parts of the GMC needs more work:
MC (main character) wants (G)...because (M).... but (C).
So then I had to work this all out for Secrets and Lies.
I discovered that my story was plot driven. I didn't really understand my characters and their motivations.
But I found on deeper research that i had a more basic problem. I had not pinpointed what the theme of my story was!
Theme is the overarching point of your story. eg, Freedom, Security, Truth.... . Mine was to do with Trust.
Theme leads to your premise - the moral of your story. Lots of notes and pondering revealed mine as 'Trust comes from the heart, not the mind'.
Once you know what your theme is, you need to make sure that every character, every scene meets this theme. - I found this illuminating for the editing process and whether or not scenes or characters were necessary!
With the theme and premise in mind it was easier to pinpoint the real GMC's for my main characters.
At the root of it all I have a heroine who trusts her heart over her mind, and my hero trusts his mind over his heart = instant conflict!
But deeper into conflict there are multiple layers. *groan* It's never easy!
Their are two main types of conflict. External and Internal.
External Conflict is what propels the MC's to do what they do. A cheating partner, death of a loved one, being made penniless....The external conflict propels the MC's together initially - this is the beginning of your story, or where your story opens.
Their Internal Conflict is the struggle of your MC's to overcome their external goals. And of course, their internal conflicts can change as they meet challenges and realise deeper what they really want or need - which may or may not be the hero/ine!
Now, narrowing down the main driving Internal and External conflicts for my MC's has proven frustrating as well as invigorating. By getting to the crux of their issues I can then layer their conflicts further as each meets a challenge, revealing deeper motivations and goals.
For example, my hero's main internal goal is to have his head rule in all decisions and actions. His motivation comes from his past: He followed his heart to his detriment - the heroine up and left him at the altar. He is not going to be made so vulnerable ever again.
A deeper layer goal - he has to know why the heroine left him (this makes him vulnerable, this unmanly insecurity) which leads to a lot more secrets in the story.
His conflict: When the heroine comes back he is finding it very hard to keep his head when his heart and soul screams for the heroine. But, should he trust his head and believe his brother or trust his heart and believe the heroine?
My hero needs to learn that trust will lead him to the truth. This is the goal that he really wants, but doesn't know it yet - He wants the truth but to get it he has to trust the heroine.
My heroine is a bit more complicated and I am still nutting out some nitty gritty bits but essentially she needs to learn that for her truth leads to trust. Likewise she doesn't know yet that at the heart of it all she wants the complete trust of the hero but to get it she must give him the truth.
See how nicely they conflict with each other - each needs to have a goal or conflict that is the opposite to the other to create that lovely tension - who will win in the end??!
See it's all very tricky and layered. And by writing this post I have managed to have a few more lightbulb moments!
Good luck with nutting out your GMC's!
If you have any gems to share, please do!