Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Year, A New Novel?

Does a new year bring with it new ideas for stories, novels, non-fiction articles?  Or does it just bring a new resolve to finish what you had started last year?  Wit me, it's a little of both...and that's probably how it is with most writers. 

If you are going to begin a new story line, for a novel or otherwise, is it something you've had brewing in your mind for awhile, or has it come as a flash of inspiration from your muse?  Either is good, but sometimes that little muse can get in the way of a well-thought out plan before you begin.  I don't necessarily mean outlining before you begin, because that's something I don't do.  But have you thought out the GMCT of your story before beginning?

Okay, you ask, just what is GMCT? I thought you'd never ask!  GMCT stands for Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and Tension. The first three should always be in any story of any length, and to make it better, you should be able to add Tension.

GMC is the heart and soul of any good story, and the concept has to apply to the MC, but to make the story more interesting, and surely more believable, you need to apply them to at least one of your main secondary characters.  To make the story even more exciting, the GMC of the major secondary characters should clash with that of the MC.  Perhaps they both have the same goal...say, of attracting the handsome high school sports hero, but their motivations are different, even opposing.  This brings up much external conflict, but suppose the MC and the major SC are best friends...what happens then to the internal conflict of each one?  And at the climax, what has the MC had to go through, give up, or change in her own behavior and attitudes ( growth) to achieve...or not...her goal?

To recap:
(G)oal is what the MC wants in order for the story to move forward.  It must be difficult or seemingly impossible for her to achieve, because of the problems and obstacles that get in her way.
(M)otivation is what drives the MC forward to get what she wants.  The reason or reasons for her to be willing to do just about anything must be logical and believable in terms of her being physically, emotionally, or mentally capable.
(C)onflict arises when she comes face to face with the obstacles which stand in the way of her achieving her goal.  These obstacles could be physical, in terms of a person, place or a situation; they could be emotional, in terms of her feelings about something, or her conscience; they could be mental, in terms of her not having, at the moment, the intellectual ability or knowledge she needs; or these obstacles could be any combination of the above.

Using the example above, what kinds of external and internal conflict could be more believable than that of two friends fighting over the same boy?  And with teens especially, the conflict is going to be elevated to great heights, as all problems with teens are exaggerated.  That in turn leads to the T in the GMCT formula...Tension.

Tomorrow, I'll talk more about Tension and what it means to a novel.

Until then,
That's a wrap.


  1. Fantastic post, Mikki. This one was a good 'un for me to read. Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks, Cat, I hope it gave you some ideas! Stay tuned for the one on Tension, too.

  3. I agree. I like to think my ideas through before I start writing to make sure I have all the necessary elements to writing a good story. I've become a huge planner, but it works for me. Once I'm finished planning--and that takes a while--the book practically writes itself. Now, for short stories, I can work much quicker and don't need to plan as much.