Thursday, February 7, 2013

Goal, Motivation, and Conflict

Recently, I re-read the book entitled, Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. My writing friend, Kay had given the book to me and I remember reading it years ago, thinking I had already blogged about it. However, a quick search through this blog's archive had me surprised that this book has never been reviewed on here. I find this amazing since this book has helped a lot of beginning novelists out there in writing land. 

To begin this review, I first have to say that it is an easy read. I've read some pretty tough reads in the past that made me feel like I was swimming through a murky swamp. Not this one. Ms. Dixon writes in a fashion that is engaging and simple to understand.

Goal, Motivation, & Conflict is filled with interesting information in which all writers should take time to learn. She covers in the first few chapters the reasoning behind a good book and what it takes to engage the reader. The book covers the who, what, why, and why not by using references to movies. It then becomes clear how these parts are invaluable to a story. Another wonderful aspect of this book, is how the author teaches the novelist to write a tagline. Taglines can be so difficult for the author who is so close to the story. With this teaching on taglines, the task seems less daunting. The book also covers scenes and how to write the perfect query letter.

I really love this book. I am so glad I decided to re-read it. After reading books by Swain, I feel Goal, Motivation, & Conflict covers a lot of his teaching in an easy to read vernacular. Because let's face it...Swain is no easy read.


Let me use the technique of G, M, & C to describe the cons of this book. Goal - the reader wants to read this book. Motivation - the reader wants to become a better writer. Conflict -  I believe I last saw it on for $134. Buying this book used is probably the best and only option to obtain this book. However, the publisher might be able to provide some help, "Our books are either new, used, ex-library, or out-of-print. The condition of the book is described at the end of each description." ~

Here is what the publisher said about this book:

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 important and which aren’t and why, how to get your characters to do what they need for your plot in a believable manner, and how to use conflict to create a good story. GMC can be used not only in plotting, but in character development, sharpening scenes, pitching ideas to an editor, and evaluating whether an idea will work.

Be confident your idea will work before you write 200 pages
Plan a road map to keep your story on track
Discover why your scenes aren’t working and what to do about it
Create characters that editors and readers will care about
Write a dynamite query letter to an editor

Table of Contents

If Writing Were Easy, Everyone Would Be Writing

Chapter One
Who, What, Why, and Why Not

Chapter Two
Goal:  What Your Character Wants

Chapter Three
Motivation:  “The Why”

Chapter Four
Conflict:  Caution!  Roadblock Ahead!

Chapter Five
Conflict Mascots

Chapter Six
A Closer Look at the GMC Chart

Chapter Seven
Big Black Moments Need GMC

Chapter Eight
Go Ahead, Make a Scene

Chapter Nine
GMC Brainstorming

Chapter Ten
Twenty-Five Words or Less

Chapter Eleven
This and That

Appendix A
Recommended Reading and Reference

Appendix B
GMC Charts

1 comment:

  1. I read this years ago, but I should go back & reread. No fiction book intrigues us without GMC. It's the foundation, for sure. Thanks for sharing, Debra.


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