This is a question I get asked a lot by other writers, readers, and strangers I meet on airplanes: How do go about writing your stories?
My response is always the same: That’s a loaded question.
I’ve learned over the years that readers want to know if I use real people in my stories. They want to know where I get my ideas from. Do I dream about my characters (yes, I do, but it gets really dicy when I dream about other people’s characters). They also LOVE to tell me their idea for a story., which I always find fascinating because I feel as though my brain (and other writers) functions differently than an non writer. So, as I listen to their idea, and they way the present it reminds me how important it is for me understand the people of my story. If I don’t, doesn’t matter how great a plot I have, the story will suck.
Years ago, I attended a workshop with the great Deb Dixon. The workshop was based on her book: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. This is one of those books that made my head explode. At the end of this blog, I give you my ‘must have’ recommended reads for the craft of writing. I know there are tons more, but these are my go to guides.
Anywho, I sat in the workshop and listened to her and scribbled notes (before I had a laptop, it was that long ago) and the world of writing all of a sudden opened up to me. It was as if I’d been alone in the dark when suddenly a door opened, light filtered in along with a half a dozen of my characters.
I struggled with GMC at first and to be honest, it messed with my writing for a bit.
Tip # 1: As you develop your process, it will screw with you mind. Don’t worry about it. You’ll get through it once you figure out how a new step fits in.
Since I write romance with a splash of suspense, I do what I call a GMC chart for my hero, my heroine, and my antagonist. This is a basic chart. I always try to keep this simple. It’s just something I put on my desk to keep me grounded, so I don’t go off on some tangent. I do a more in-depth character outline, but this gives me a start.
So, lets do a GMC for my novella coming for THE OMEGA TEAM: THE LIGHTHOUSE.
Hero: Logan Sarich
Goal: Protect Mia Vanderlin and her family from a death threat.
Motivation: It’s his job.
Conflict: Someone from his and Mia’s past is trying to destroy Mia.
Pretty simple, right?
Heroine: Mia Vanderlin
Goal: Find the person who is destroying her professional reputation.
Motivation: She’s one of the top ethical hackers in the country and she wants to keep it that way.
Conflict: Someone is trying to destroy her career.
Antognist: Not Telling
Goal: Destroy Mia Vanderlin’s career.
Motivation: Blames Mia for all his failures in life.
Conflict: Damn hot ex-military, ex-boyfriend shows up and foils his plan!
The Antagonist’s motivation was the key ingredient to finding this story. Remember, the antagonist is the hero in his/her own story.
But I’m not quite done with GMC. Above is your external GMC. It’s my suspense plot. But what about the romance? I do a GMC chart for that as well.
Hero Internal Goal: Tame his restlessness.
Motivation: Tired of not feeling fulfilled in life.
Conflict: He doesn’t know what is causing it, until he sees Mia again.
Heroine Internal Goal: Change the direction of her life…less on the job and more on finding the right person.
Motivation: Wants someone to share her life with.
Conflict: No one excites her…until Logan walks back into her life.
These are very simple. Nothing to complicated about them. I break it down the smallest fraction. From here, I do detailed character sheet (actually, still working on this part of the process…each book I do something different). This character sheet details their journey through the book along with documentation of their past.
Tip # 2: Take what you like and make it your own. Every writer will handle GMC differently. I’ve seen authors do pages and pages of GMC for each character. Not everything I do will work for you, or any other writer. If it resonates, try it. If not, move on to the next thing. Don’t be afraid to take someone else’s process and change it to fit your own needs.
Now, pass that butt glue!
Forgot the books….
Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer
How to Write the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Stein on Writing by Soul Stein
PS. Just because I watch this video all the time now because it makes me happy. This little girl is magic!