Wednesday, August 22, 2007


And I don't mean General Motors.

Good old Goals, Motivation and Conflict. How I've scoffed at them, disdained their relevance, pshawed the very idea. How they've come back to bite me in the butt.

I mentioned a dream I had last night in a reply to Sidney from my previous post. Before I went to bed, I'd been wondering what to do about a WIP, how to fix the fact that it seemed a little dull. I proceeded to have a dream where one of the main characters spoke to me. Although he spoke about himself and the heroine in third person, his advice was "Send them on a quest."

He told me they needed to do something. Search for something. He said even if I just sent them to the grocery store, they needed to be looking for something.

I woke up and realized "he" was right. They weren't doing anything--mainly sitting around thinking about each other. Their motivations weren't clear, their goals nebulous at best. Conflict--not so much. Sure, there was some, but none of it was earth shattering. There wasn't much action or growth.

Who knew these things were important to a good story? :P

Sigh... now I have to go back and figure out what these people really want, why they want it, and how they might try to get it. Maybe even throw in a roadblock or two. And I here had a hard enough time just giving them names...

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, C.S. Harris has a great blog about "punching up" paragraphs. Well worth the read. (Of course, her blogs always are.)


  1. I always do the GMC thing. I went to a Deb Dixon workshop about four years ago, and it was awesome. Revelation after revelation. Like God came down and handed me the three commandments of writing, lol.

    Some people do the GMC for every scene, but that's way too much plotting for me.

  2. I never do the GMC thing intentionally. I do try never to write a sentence without it being involved in some conflict, though.

    My ADD helps. Without conflict, I just can't pay attention to myself!

  3. Wow, I just had thought - light bulb fiction - Goals, Motivation and Conflict define characters, but in real life PURPOSE, IMPECCABILITY AND DETACHMENT (from expectations and outcomes) defines our character.
    Thanks for that! This may help me with my fiction writing as well as my own life!
    Lindy :)

  4. Hi, I just stumbled by, and had to say:
    Isn't it lovely when characters speak up for themselves? It's interesting too, because I'm here following a link from Lindy's Cave of Pythia where she encouraged a moment of silence, of asking for what is needed from divinity. This asking business really comes in handy. We can ask the universe for help as characters in our lives, and our characters can ask us for what they need as well. Communication. And activities.

    Good luck with your writing,

  5. Kate, loved your dream. Bet you woke up with a smile on your face too. That character is going to be a winner!

  6. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. You've given me much to think about.

    Edie, I agree about trying that with every scene - it would wear me out. :)

    Spy - conflict in every sentence? Yikes! lol

    Pythia - that's something to ponder, isn't it? I think there is something much deeper at work here, but I'll have to think about it more fully before commenting.

    realbigwings - thanks for dropping by! :) I just took a look at your site - very impressive. Thanks for the good wishes too. I do believe asking is helpful - we just need to be receptive to the answers. :)

    Cynthia - I think I'll send them to the grocery store as he suggested. I need a few things. :)

    LaDonna - I'm falling in love with the guy. :) Hey - great new website you've got there!

  7. LOL, thanks for stopping by! The sites I visit are "golden" to me.

  8. I love LaDonna's website too. Thanks for passing on CS Harris's blog. Another revelation there. I tried punching up the last word of a paragraph for about a page, and, Wow! it works! I'll remember that from now on -- I hope.

  9. I had a dream about one of my stories too. I had a character that just wasn't really taking shape and I guess I went to bed with that heavy in my head and when I woke up, I knew exactly what had to be done with him.

    I love dream meditations!

    Happy Writing!

  10. You're right. Of course you're right. It is a thing I need to be reminded of when my stories grow stale before they're finished.

    Almost always the thing we most wish to avoid is the one thing we must do, in life and in stories. Too depressed to move? Get out and move. Too afraid of human contact? Go be with people.

    So easy to say.

    And in stories: When they are perfect in our minds but going nowhere, we need to make them imperfect so they flow.

    You're right. Of course you're right.

  11. I had the same problem with one of my POV characters early on. There were these three vivid, colorful people and then Cardboard Guy. I realized I hadn't even thought about his motivation; he was just bobbing along with the story, being contrary just for the sake of contrariness. After I figured out what he wanted out of his life, he became 3-D. Now, if I could just train myself to remember that information and use it in the future.

    Anyone know Pavlov's whereabouts?

  12. LaDonna - you're welcome. I feel the same way about the sites I visit.

    Edie - isn't that great stuff? Really makes a difference.

    Christine - I love it when that happens. Takes the pressure off of having to come up with it ourselves. ;)

    Jon - you're right. :) And I really hate those bast@rd$ who keep harping on us to do the things we don't want to do, but would really make all the difference in the world if we'd just listen. In stories, as in real life, I avoid conflict like the plague, but in stories at least, it's what keeps them going.

    Avery - isn't it funny how such a "simple" thing will make a big difference? Last I heard of Pavlov, he was found half eaten with a bell stuffed in his mouth. :)

  13. Oh my gosh I hope this isn't inapproiate but i laughed myself silly while reading this... Im just very happy to know that im not the only one to have conversations with my characters.. in so much as "hello why won't you do what i want you to do?" go already *grin*

    i followed a link from travis
    i will have to now read back entries:) thanks for the tips!!

  14. Thanks for stopping by, wolfbaby. Go ahead and laugh. :)

    It is nice to know that other writers are crazy, too, isn't it? :)

  15. I have my characters visiting me in my dreams quite often, and I get some really good resolutions that way. It’s amazing how our minds can create these fictional beings that take on personalities of their own, to the point where they actually start communicating with us. :-0

    If one has to be crazy (and I’m talking about me here, not you, Kate LOL), then I think being a writer is one of the best ways to channel that nutty factor into something constructive. ;-)

  16. Oh, Daisy, it's ok. You can call me crazy. :)

  17. You that you mention it, I seem to be missing all 3 of the GMC in my own, real life. Not that I'm unhappy, but I guess I need to kick myself in my painting @$$ again. Thanks for the "M."

  18. It's funny, Lana, but lately I've been making a lot of connections between writing "rules" and real life. But that's a blog for another time. :)


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