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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

4.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  558 Ratings  ·  95 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
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 1,372)
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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.
Sep 28, 2013 Loren rated it it was ok
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
Jun 23, 2016 Renee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, read-2016
I'm inhaling writing craft books left right and centre. This is my favourite so far.

When my critique partner gave me some feedback about clarifying my character's goals, motivation and conflict, she mentioned "there's a book called GMC." Too impatient for an email response for the author's name, I searched GMC on Amazon and found it straight away.

Once I started reading, it made so much sense. I wanted to devour the whole book in one go, but I forced myself to ration it out. I wanted to make sur
Jul 30, 2007 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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
Apr 16, 2010 Chrissy Wissler rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 03, 2013 TKay rated it it was amazing
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
Nikki Boisture
Aug 15, 2011 Nikki Boisture rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 25, 2012 Mystique rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 09, 2015 Margarita rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joanie Bruce
This book is the best book for aspiring authors that I've read in a long time. The suggestions are clear and motivating, and Ms. Dixon infuses a touch of humor in her writing that makes it exciting and fun to read. This book is a must for anyone writing fiction, both newbies and seasoned authors. Her concept of Goal/Motivation/Conflict works with any genre of fiction.

I bought this book on Kindle, but I loved it so much that I also ordered a paperback copy for future reference. I highly recommen
Joshua Keezer
Oct 12, 2011 Joshua Keezer rated it really liked it
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
Tina Weaver
Oct 09, 2013 Tina Weaver rated it it was amazing
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
Deborah Leitch
Dec 31, 2013 Deborah Leitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emma Johansson
Jul 07, 2015 Emma Johansson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is SO good if you want to learn about goal, motivation and conflict! Really easy to understand and it has good examples.
Alex G
Aug 17, 2016 Alex G rated it it was amazing
Short but extremely relevant. Dixon uses movies to demonstrate her points. Might be more for the beginning writer.
Mar 10, 2013 Holly rated it really liked it
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
Suzie Quint
Apr 19, 2012 Suzie Quint rated it it was amazing
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
Carbunkle Flux
Nov 27, 2015 Carbunkle Flux rated it liked it
GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict is a book with the goal to teach you about GMC. It does this job the first half of the book or so. You get a chart, plenty of examples, supporting information, everything you could ever possibly want to make GMC easy. It works and it works well.

But it's an 150+ page book and GMC is a straightforward concept. Once Debra has adequately communicated the concept, the book seems to lose its structure. It becomes a font of general writing advice I'm g
Amber Schamel
Jul 31, 2014 Amber Schamel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-have-s
GMC is an amazing book I wish I'd read years ago. It helps not only with crafting a story that works, but also with writing a synopsis, back cover blurb and pitching to agents or editors. GMC is the Rosetta stone of good writing. It takes the complexities of character, plot, pacing, outlining and makes it easy to comprehend. In fact, it opens up a whole new perspective on story.

Debra, thank you so much for writing this. It's on my must-have shelf and I am sure it will be reread many, many times
Pam Asberry
Oct 28, 2011 Pam Asberry rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 19, 2014 Jeanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
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
May 23, 2012 Kym McNabney rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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!
K.C. Hunter
Jul 30, 2014 K.C. Hunter rated it it was amazing
Should be on every writer's bookshelf!
Jul 23, 2014 Marian rated it it was amazing
Loved the workshop and the book. I highly recommend them both.
Kimberly Kincaid
Jan 05, 2012 Kimberly Kincaid rated it it was amazing
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.

Jan 07, 2014 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-writing
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.
Lisa Rosen
Nov 05, 2014 Lisa Rosen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
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.
Jan 05, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it
Lots of writing friends have recommended this book, and I've finally read it. I think it has some great content. It would have made an excellent brochure or conference workshop. It could have been an enlightening series of blog posts. As a book, it's a bit fluffy. Don't get me wrong--I love examples and charts as much as the next person. Not being exceptionally stupid, however, I can usually make do with one or two, rather than six or eight. Why say in one-hundred-forty-four pages what you could ...more
Wilani Wahl
Apr 14, 2014 Wilani Wahl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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“There are no new plots, but there are plenty of fresh new characters with whom you can grab the reader. Characterization is the key to successful commercial fiction. Characterization starts with goal, motivation, and conflict. Character” 0 likes
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