Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Let GMC drive you and your story
We writers talk a lot about character's goals, motivations and conflict, or GMC. It's what drives the story. But I'm discovering that it's also what drives our lives.
Goal: what you want. In terms of story, it's what the character will live for, fight for, and die for if necessary. When you look at your life, I'm sure there's something that you want. Maybe it's to lose weight or make more money or find the perfect relationship. We all want something so badly that we would do whatever it takes to get it. So what do you want?
Motivation: why you want it. This is the reason the character does what she does, says what she says and works so hard for her goal. The reality is that the stated motivation may not be the true reason. Sometimes it takes a little more thought to get to the true motivation. I may want to lose weight because I want to feel and look better, but when I get to the core of why I want to lose ten, twenty, fifty pounds it could be because I'm tired of being tired and feeling worthless. I want to feel like I'm worth it, that I deserve better. But even that may not be the true reason. It will take more reflection and getting down to the nitty gritty to figure out why. And once I do that, I'll be better prepared to make a plan to reach my goal.
Conflict: obstacles to getting what you want. It could be something as simple as traffic preventing you from reaching an appointment to a person pointing a gun at you to stop you. Sometimes the conflict is self sabotage (especially with my weight loss goal) which means going back to what you want and why you want. Creating a plan to overcome obstacles is meant to push the character (or yourself) through the story (or life). Overcoming conflict makes you stronger, makes the victory of achieving the goal all the more sweeter.
If your story has GMC, you have the start of a great story. Think about the movie "Finding Nemo". Marlin's goal is to get his son back. His motivation: his son is the only family he has left. But to find his son, he has a lot of obstacles to overcome. He is afraid to leave his home. He doesn't know where his son is. There's a big ocean full of sharks, jellyfish and whales. When he finds his son, how does he rescue him? And what if his son dies before he can be rescued? That's a lot of obstacles, both internal (his fears, his lack of knowledge) and external (the other sea life, the fishing boat). But a happy ending means that Marlin will reach his goal and be reunited with his son.
When you look at your life, do you have the GMC to drive you? What will it take to get to your happy ending?