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What’s Your GMC?

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If you’ve been around writers for a while, you’re probably familiar with Goal, Motivation and Conflict. Debra Dixon introduced the concept in a 1996 book by the same title. Since then it’s been used by writers everywhere as a handy tool to develop layered, lovable, believable characters.

In a nutshell, GMC asks three questions about our story characters:

  • What do they want? (Goal)
  • Why do they want it? (Motivation)
  • What’s keeping them from getting it? (Conflict)

But what if we applied GMC not only to our characters, but to ourselves? Author Claudia Welch proposed that idea to writers in an article called, “Protecting the Girl” in the Romance Writer’s Report. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

How would things change, how would WE change, if we took the time to ask ourselves some hard, honest questions in relation to the various roles we fulfill in life?

Try it. Find a quiet corner, pour a cup of coffee or tea and take each of the hats you wear, one at a time, and ask yourself, as a (writer/artist/mother/spouse/friend/employee):

  • What do I want?
  • Why do I want it?
  • What’s keeping me from getting it?

The answers may surprise you. We all want different things. Often at different seasons in life. And almost always, for different reasons.

Ideas and insights are elusive critters that easily slip through our minds, so force yourself to write down your answers. You’ll see patterns and trends and mindsets you may not even have been aware of.

Then take it one step further. Ask yourself these questions in relation to your dreams and aspirations in life.

Are we sabotaging ourselves by how we approach things? How can we turn the conflicts in our favor, to help us move forward?

Big, shiny light bulbs went off when I took a long look at HOW I’m trying to reach certain goals. I’m working on ways to move forward.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you thought through your personal GMC?

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    The Conversation

  1. diane burke says:

    Love this posting, Connie. Never thought about applying the GMC to our lives. Can’t wait to sit down today with pen and pad. I bet I’ll be really surprised at the outcome.

  2. Maddy says:

    Funnily enough I’ve only just finished reading that book [I have newbie stamped on my forehead] and I certainly never thought of applying it to myself – but maybe I should.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Maddy, everybody everywhere was a newbie once–at everything. So you’re in good company. 🙂 Deb Dixon’s GMC is a great book. Helped me so much. Glad it’s helping you, too.

      Here’s hoping applying GMC to your life will clarify things even more!

  3. Sounds like a great idea, Connie! I get so overwhelmed with all the tasks I have to accomplish each day, I sometimes feel like I’m just going through the motions. I’m going to give your questions a try first chance I get.

    • Connie Mann says:

      I hear you, Susan. Sometimes, focus gets lost in the to-do list and we wonder what we’re trying to accomplish. 🙂 Been there, too many times.

      Here’s hoping this little exercise will help!

  4. Do you think if those three things were written on ‘velcro’ stickers, and attached to a board, it would be a good idea to change the order as suits each morning? Sometimes my motivation seems lacking since I can’t decide if the goal is the most important issue of the day, or the ‘conflict/s’ that I believe are going to ‘upset’ my motivation! Get any sense from that? 🙂

    • Connie Mann says:

      Nancy, you got me laughing out loud! I like it–I think. 🙂 The danger there is letting the “urgent” push aside the “important.” Now if we could always easily discern which is which, life would be much simpler, right?

  5. susan meier says:

    I loved this post too. I know what I want. I know why I want it. But I don’t always stop to think about the “conflict” — the why I don’t have it end of things.

    Good food for thought!

    susan meier

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks so much, Susan. Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve felt the same way. Never gave too much thought to the conflict piece–or that sometimes, I’m my OWN conflict, by working against my best interests!!

  6. Ruth says:

    Thanks for this great post. So often I focus on what I haven’t done or can’t do. But the neat thing about this is that it addresses not only what I’m good at, but how that thing is going to make me better. Kudos on another wonderful article!