GMC – the juice that drives the story

GMC.  It’s a mantra

GMC-Clarice's desperation to silence the lambs provides the capital M-Motivation that drives her out of her comfort zone and makes the action riveting.

GMC-Clarice's desperation to silence the lambs provides the capital M-Motivation that drives her out of her comfort zone and makes the action riveting.

fiction writers have heard frequently, a principle that can add power to your writing.

I recommend Debra Dixon’s book, “GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict, the Building Blocks of Good Fiction.”.

While there’s a huge following for Dixon’s GMC, some writers think the concept is too simple, that it can become formulaic and predictable.  Boring, even.

Craft is more apparent in children’s stories, which makes them a good source for observing writing principles in action. More sophisticated stories require a closer look but possess the same GMC format, a format that strengthens a protagonist’s motivation and the progression of the story.

Without motivation, there is no juice.  Imagine Clarice in “Silence of the Lambs” as she explains to Lecter that she hears the lambs crying … and that it kind of interrupts her sleep on some nights.  She may even shrug as she says it.

By the dialogue and body language, the reader is cued that Clarice doesn’t much care, and if the character doesn’t care, we don’t care, either. Any heroic or dramatic actions this character may later take to silence the lambs won’t be convincing to us, later.

Characters grow when they face their fears. Like us, they’re quite comfortable with the status quo. It hurts, embarrasses, frightens them to step outside of their comfort zones and grow. What makes them do it is motivation.

The intensity must be there.  Clarice can’t just sort of want the crying to go away – she must *desperately* want it to go away.

This strong motivation is what carries her through very difficult moments in the story. Without it, she’d just leave Lecter and the next victim to their private hells and perform within the rules and requirements of her job.

That’s just one example. In GWTW, imagine how flat this classic story could be if Scarlet just “sort of” liked Tara.

GMC is the juice that drives the story.

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Filed under success techniques, The Writing Life, Writing Craft

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