Monday, March 8, 2010

GMC Game #2

Last week, we started our GMC game. Thanks to all of those who participated. If you missed it, here’s the link. Everyone did a great job with their GMCs. Here’s my favorite: (Thanks Gwen.)

Goal: To get rid of boyfriend without involving the cops.
Motivation: The boyfriend has ties to an influential family that would squash her like a bug if she got him in trouble.
Conflict: She would lose her house, job, etc. and the family would just hire a great attorney to get the BF off, leaving her with nothing.

Why do these GMCs work? Notice how they’re all tied together. She wants to get rid of her boyfriend, but doesn’t dare involve the cops because of the ex-boyfriend’s family ties. They’re too powerful and she has too much to lose.

A mistake I’ve seen writers make when working on GMCs is that in attempting to create strong GMCs, they forget to link everything together. Let’s start with the protagonist’s goal. Megan will be our heroine for this example. She wants independence. Why? She needs to gain respect from her brother, who thinks she’s been a Daddy’s girl too long (motivation). Why? Expand on this to create a stronger motivation.

What’s stopping her from attaining that goal (conflict)? Maybe her dad manipulates her and makes her feel guilty for not needing him. His life is worthless if he doesn’t have her to take care of. Her older sister’s worried he’ll go back into a depression if Megan doesn’t give him a purpose in life. Megan feels obligated to keep her dad from becoming depressed (and keep her sister happy), but is torn because that makes her brother unhappy. Not to mention, she has to decide what SHE wants.

To add more conflict, answer why she needs her brother’s respect. Maybe she wants to start a business with him, but he’s unsure she’s strong enough to handle the pressure and that she’s not independent enough to do her share of the work. So, now it’s not only about who she wants to make happy, but a career change for herself as well. Dig deeper. Why does she need this career change? What are the stakes? How soon does this change have to happen (the ticking clock)? (More explanations on “stakes” and “the ticking clock” in my next post.)

Let’s see how you do with the next scene. As before, use this to trigger the goal, motivation, and conflict these characters may have in a story. This time I’m going to give you even less to go on. Have fun!

Genre: Contemporary Romance

At the company picnic, on the baseball field, Patrick changes teams with a co-worker so he’d be teammates with Alexis, the new employee. Because she’s quiet, Patrick has assumed she’s shy, but there’s actually more to her than meets the eye. Patrick’s goal may seem obvious here, but what about hers? What could be in her past that would keep these two apart? In a romance, both the hero and heroine need their own GMCs, preferably conflicting ones. Imagine the possible story. What are Alexis and Patrick’s GMCs?


  1. Sometimes I just want to forget all the rules and write forward. Those times usually produce a lot of cruddy writing. When I make the effort to do these sorts of exercises, I am almost always rewarded in a better product.

    thanks for the reminder!

  2. Hmm...

    Alexis grew up in a broken home. Her father was abusive and drunk, and her mother had an overdose with sleeping pills, trying to escape her husband, which focused his attention on Alexis. When a teacher finally stepped in and called the cops, Alexis was already damaged. Rather than a good student with plenty of friends, she became withdrawn and distracted.

    She's been distant with everyone since the police took her father away, mainly because she's afraid if she gets too attached, they'll just hurt her too, as he did so many times. SO when Patrick approaches her, though she secretly likes him, she doesn't trust him.

    She's afraid.

  3. Tess: You're welcome!

    Oddyoddy013: This is great! Now, break it down into goal, motivation, and conflict. And don't forget about Patrick. ;)

    Lynnette Labelle

  4. Alexis came from an abusive (teen) relationship(in my mind). Her, poor but hard working dad, wants to protect her. Can he show her how valuable she is? Or is he a lame slimeball?

    Thanks for the muse fun. :-)

  5. Sharon: This is a good start. Now spell it out in goal, motivation, and conflict terms for both Alexis and Patrick.

    Lynnette Labelle

  6. Patrick - G:Wants to get to know Alexis better,M:because he finds her interesting, different than other girls,C:but she doesn't want anything to do with him.

    Alexis - G:Wants to begin a new life, in a new town and new job,M:because where she came from there was a tragedy, a fire, which killed her fiance and her dreams,C:but with Patrick sniffing around her, intriquing her, she's not sure how long she can keep her past a secret.

  7. Great job, Cher. Two things came to mind when I read your sample. Her conflict is that she doens't want her secret to be revealed, but I don't understand why she thinks she needs to keep the fact that her fiance died a secret. To strenghten the conflict, you need to dig deeper into her motivation. Or, change the conflict to something stronger. The other thing is Patrick's GMCs. Technically, this works, but it's not strong enough to pull through the whole novel. That's okay if his GMCs change, which sometimes happen. Otherwise, the way to fix this is to come up with a stronger motivation. I'm not asking you to fix this, by the way. I just wanted to show you and others how to make GMCs stronger.

    Good work and thanks for playing everyone!

    Lynnette Labelle

  8. Lynnette- She killed her fiance.
    Patrick motivation - she new in town so she doesn't know that he has AIDs?

    I know you said didn't need to fix, but I think learning this process is important for my writing.

    Thanks for having these posts.

  9. Cher,

    I'll send you an email in response to your latest post.

    Lynnette Labelle