GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction
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GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction

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4.49 of 5 stars 4.49  ·  rating details  ·  267 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Goal, motivation, and conflict are the foundation of everything that happens in the story world. Using charts, examples, and movies, the author breaks these key elements down into understandable components and walks the reader through the process of laying this foundation in his or her own work.

Learn what causes sagging middles and how to fix them, which goals are importan...more
Hardcover, 165 pages
Published January 28th 1999 by Gryphon Books for Writers (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 707)
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Loren
Goodreads GMC
Before the 18th century, (& the advent of the novel) stories were much more complicated. They revealed a great diversity of stories within a story, a multitude of characters with back stories in varying depth and precision. They explained various ideas, ideologies and conventional wisdoms. They remarked (often in allegory) on philosophical and metaphysical virtues. They were written poetically; a time intensive endeavor in itself.
To be able to write (as in have the wealth to d...more
Rebecca
Jul 30, 2007 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fiction writers
I learned about this book from Angela Knight in her "How to Write Erotic Romance" book. It was more than I thought I needed but decided to go ahead and see what it had to offer. I was currently working on a project but after having read this book, I realized that I was floundering in a raft without a compass or oars so I chucked the whole thing and am now working on a new story from the beginning using her worksheets. I see how it makes the story easier to plan and hopefully I'll avoid the "sagg...more
Chrissy Wissler
A must-have for any writer. I highly suggest you track this book down and add it to your keeper-shelf.

This book does a fantastic job of breaking down the three core elements to any good story: goal, motivation, conflict.

The GMC chart will force you to work your characters into simple, easy-to-understand concepts that can be used across the board, whether for your protagonist, antagonist or secondary characters. The best part of all is Debra Dixon takes you through this process, step by step. Usi...more
TKay
As a writer, I consider this the #1 most important 'must read' book for anyone who wishes to write.

As a reader, whenever I read a book that just doesn't quite cut the mustard, I wish the author had read this book and followed its principles. Too many writers fail to understand that conflict it the backbone of an exciting plot; many don't even understand what true conflict entails. This book breaks the character motivation down into its basic components, and provides a no-fail road map to plotti...more
Beth Barany
I found this book incredibly useful when I was a beginning writer. I like the character development tool of GMC, and I have added three more key components to my character building: Strengths, Fears and Secrets. Dixon also has wonderfully succinct outlines for plotting, which for me -- primarily an intuitive writer -- have been quite useful.
Nikki Boisture
It has really helped me create an outline for my fiction writing. There's nothing in here that I didn't already know, but for some reason, seeing it written down, seeing the process of outlining and creating characters from scratch really helped me. It's August, and I've already begun working on my outline for November's nanowrimo.
Mystique
A must have for any writer. Deb Dixon explains the essentials to characters, plots, and goals in easy to understand language and with fantastic examples from some of the most popular movies in history.
Alice
This was a useful book, but it also seemed rather basic. I wish I'd read it back when I was new to this whole writing thing. As it stands, I'll get some use out of it, but not as much as I would've in initially figuring out my process.

The book talks about Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, which are the basic building blocks of writing fiction. All characters have these three elements in every story, and Dixon uses examples from popular movies like Wizard of Oz, The Fugitive, and Casablanca to illu...more
Beth Fred
I rarely read craft books. Don't get me wrong, I buy them all the time. I just rarely actually finish them. This is the second craft book I've read cover to cover. The other is "On Writing" and I find this one more helpful. I bought this book at a workshop hosted by Debra Dixon, the author. She explained GMC thoroughly that day, but I find the book more helpful. Partly because you can do it at your own pace, but also because each step is explained in detail. GMC is primarily a plotting tool, but...more
Joshua Keezer
This is a book for writers. At the same time, this book isn't for all writers. I think that this book is going to be extremely useful for new writers who haven't had much experience with establishing characters. For writers with experience behind character building and development, the tool isn't going to be as useful. That is not to say that this book isn't useful. It was. The GMC method has some definite benefits that can help check existing characters and make sure minor characters aren't two...more
Lisa Rosen
Every writer is different, with different strengths & weaknesses, but for my money--this is the single best book on plotting that I've read. Tremendously helpful; demonstrates concepts with examples from widely available movies. Readable, understandable, remember-able.
Tina Weaver
Oct 09, 2013 Tina Weaver rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any writer or aspiring writer
This book is a must for every writer or aspiring writer. Debra's building blocks for writers is spot on. If you want to write a story and have just an incident or a basic idea, ask the questions "What is the goal of the main character? What motivates them to continue toward that goal and what conflicts are preventing te Main Character from reaching it? Every character has these 3 things and once you've established them you have a story.

Sometimes it take longer to find the GMC but they must be th...more
Deborah Leitch
This book is well worth the read for any author. It highlighted for me the importance of having a goal, a motivation and a conflict not just for the book overall, but for every chapter and every character. The author provides a template to use that is simple and helpful. I have begun to re-work several chapters of a book I am currently working on as a result of the ideas presented in this one. The author uses examples from common stories like the Wizard of Oz to illustrate her message and that t...more
Wilani Wahl
This book is great for beginning writers as well as for people who have been published. It is very helpful and holds your interest as well. It will be a source I will access often.
Jessie
I have heard about this book for years and attended workshops based on it but the book was better than I expected.
Carol
This book is extremely helpful when developing a novel. Come to think of it, it's also useful when you get stuck!
Holly
Very basic bare bones information on figuring out your character's goals, motivations and what is keeping them from their goals (conflict). As a new writer who reads many how to write books I find that sometimes too much information just overwhelms me, even if the information is excellent.
Debra Dixon presents the information one step at a time with plenty of examples and very handy charts. She then moves on to the next segment where she ties character goals with motivation.
The book is out of pr...more
Marian
Loved the workshop and the book. I highly recommend them both.
Julie
Quick read, but unbelievably helpful for thinking about character and scenes. Plus I like making charts.
Suzie Quint
Once you've been around the writing scene for a while, you know that there's hundreds of middle of the road books about writing that don't offer anything new, but sometimes new information isn't what you need. You need something that helps you grapple with the principles you already know. A new way to see story elements that's going to click with the way your mind works. This is one of those extraordinary books that does that.

complete review at my blog
Pam Asberry
One of my writer buddies recommended this book to me after reviewing the first three chapters of my work-in-progress and I am so grateful she did. This is the best explanation I have ever seen of these three elements of fiction writing, how to incorporate them into one's work, and how to use them to simplify the process of writing the synopsis and querying agents and editors. My friend says she reads this book every time she gets ready to start a new project; I think I will, too. Highly recommen...more
Jeanne
The simple, clear structure Ms. Dixon explains in this book (complete with charts and fantastic examples) can be applied not only to fiction, but to certain non-fiction writing and storytelling as well. Shoot, after reading this good book, I may have figured out most of my relatives. At the very least, they're more fun to be with now. I highly recommend this book if touché a hankering to write fiction or if you're (finally) going to that family reunion.
Kym McNabney
GMC is one of those books every writer should read. This book is well written, easy to understand and pleasing to the eyes. GMC teaches you what you need to know in order to write a good novel in simple terms with great visual examples so one can grasp the concept of what's needed to write a well written story. I highly recommend this book to all new aspiring authors, as well as those that can sense something is not quite working with their writing.
Joanne Sher
Sep 15, 2011 Joanne Sher rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Patty Wysong
Shelves: favorites
This is a book that folks have recommended to me for a couple years, and I finally got around to reading it. I wish I'd listened in the beginning!

So practical, with excellent examples and simple explanations of the basics of developing a plot for a story, and ensuring there is enough to it to sustain a novel.

This is a writing craft classic for a reason. I can't recommend it more highly!
Nicolette Gianni
A must have for every writer!
Sally Kilpatrick
The longer I write, the more important this book becomes. It's one of the few writing books that I come back to again and again.

If your story's petering out or if comments say your characters are milquetoast, then you need this book.

Oh, but do make sure you Google Debra Dixon and buy it straight from her. What they're charging on Amazon = highway robbery.
Kimberly Kincaid
This should be a must-read for any author! Put it on your bookshelf as a keeper. Well-written, easy to understand and utterly brilliant, Deb Dixon lays out all the must-have's for writing an engaging book. Whether you're a newbie or a veteran, reading this book (and then living it as you write) is essential.

Barbara
I attended a GMC workshop and later bought the book. Was very happy to see it available on Kindle. The best way to be sure the book you're writing has all the elements it needs to be a great read. I made my first sale because of this book and it influenced every sale thereafter.
Kim Baccellia
An editor recommended this book to me to help with developing motivation in one of my characters. This is a easy to read how to book that goes over plotting when writing a novel. The only problem I had was in finding this book. Only the publisher,Grypiion books, sells this book.
Sheri Ferguson Edmondson
Love, love, love this book. It gives wonderful concrete examples and is an invaluable tool for writers. I can't recommend it enough. It should be a staple in your library if you are a fiction writer.
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