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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

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  969 ratings  ·  157 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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Average rating 4.44  · 
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 ·  969 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
GMC is a writing tool for commercial fiction. It answers four questions: who, what, why and why not. Who ( Character). What (Goal). Why (Motivation). Why Not (Conflict). This tool charts both the external GMC and the internal GMC. The external GMC is the physical components -- what can be seen, touched, smelled, and heard by the character. The internal GMC is the emotional component -- what is felt by the character. The book also shows how the GMC chart helps with the pitch to an editor or agent ...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.
Sep 20, 2013 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 do so
Jun 21, 2007 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
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Trey Stone
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book, and a great resource for a writer at any level! It's nothing new, nothing fancy, nothing you haven't heard before, but the way Dixon tells it is going to make you think.

The idea is simple: Goal, Motivation and Conflict is what drives any story. Dixon doesn't beat around the bush, and tells you how in this simple and easy-to-understand book. 2-2,5 hour read, definitely worth it!
Wendy Bunnell
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ok, this book is impossible to find except in e-book version now, unless you want to pay cash for a used copy. But, very good. It was recommended to me by a writing friend. That you. Very helpful.

I buy a lot of writing 'craft' books. I very seldom read such books cover to cover, instead I keep them around, hoping I can learn through osmosis or something, and occasionally thumbing through them for inspiration.

I read this book cover to cover in less than 24 hours. I didn't stop reading it, even wh
Chrissy Wissler
Feb 18, 2010 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
L.R. Braden
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-craft
This book was recommended on several separate occasions during a writer's conference I attended last year. I bought a kindle version of it because that's the only format I could find, then promptly forgot about it because I'm way more likely to read a physical book than an ebook. I recently found it again thanks to a happy set of circumstances I won't go into here, and have since read it cover to cover... if ebooks had covers. That in itself gives this book high marks. A lot of craft books are g ...more
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 03, 2013 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
Deborah Leitch
Dec 14, 2013 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
Nikki Boisture
Aug 15, 2011 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. ...more
Jul 25, 2012 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.
Stephanie Bibb
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict does an excellent job explaining its title focus: goals, motivations, and conflict, as well as how to use them effectively within a story. It explains how to structure and develop these concepts, and which types of goals and motivations tend to work best, without overburdening the story with unnecessary conflict. Even if you already have a fairly strong understanding of these concepts from other writing craft sources, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict worked ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I wish I'd read it ten years ago. But, better late than never. It is extremely practical in looking at a book or movie or your own story and making it better. I will be re-working my current WIP using this guide. ...more
Herve Tunga
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very well written and greatly useful outside of writing field. In domains like marketing or entrepreneurship, this technique seems great for giving life to personas.
Dec 27, 2015 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
Tina Weaver
Oct 09, 2013 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
Feb 21, 2013 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
Pam Asberry
Sep 18, 2011 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
Suzie Quint
Sep 19, 2011 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
Amber Schamel
May 15, 2014 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
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
Kym McNabney
May 23, 2012 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. ...more
Jan 13, 2014 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. ...more
Joanne Sher
Aug 03, 2011 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!
Kimberly Kincaid
Jan 05, 2012 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 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. ...more
Lisa Rosen
Apr 27, 2014 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. ...more
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  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
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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” 2 likes
“We don't like writing. We like having written.” 1 likes
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