Tuesday, June 16, 2009


ToooT! TooooT! Chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga....

Welcome to Seekerville! Today I wanted to talk about something that I think is crucial in story structure, yet something not a lot of authors fully understand. I'm still on this learning train too by the way.

Just this week I was brainstorming a new proposal with my editors in New York the day before Book Expo America and it dawned on me that character motivation has many more layers than I had really consciously thought about before.

If you all wonder if editors even know or care what GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict) or good story structure is...the answer is YES! Not only do you need to have it in your stories, you need to be able to have it come across clearly in your synopsis.

"Goals" (what the character wants) sometimes has different terms such as "dreams, wants" etc. Aside: in a romance, hero and heroine's goals have to be more than just winning the heart of the other. They need to have a story goal that is something measurable (either they achieved/met their dream/goal or they did not) and possible within your story timeframe. Most of my story timeframes are four to six months. So they have short term/story goals that have nothing to do with romance. Their goals make up a huge portion of the plot arc. Okay...those hints on goals were extra. On to motivation....

"Motivation" is basically WHY. Why does this character want this goal/dream?

"Conflict" is what keeps them from getting it until the end of the story when their original story goal is either met or changed by way of compromise on the character's part.

In talking over my new proposal with my eds, it dawned on me that characters need internal (motivation) for their (internal) conflicts as well as for their goals.

A lot of times, characters' pasts/backgrounds drive their present and their future goals and conflict, especially internal.

Motivation is the WHY.

WHY do they want the particular goal/dream?
In a romance, you also need to know WHY are they resistant to a relationship with the hero/heroine or to relationships in general...and Inspirationals often have a faith struggle for the character(s) to work through. So you'd probably need to answer the WHY is this person resistant/struggling in their relationship with God. These are all part of what makes up MOTIVATION in story structure.

Motivation must come across clearly in your synopsis because it will help editors know whether your characters have a good chance of being likable and logical yet having a season of growth internally through the book. It will also let them know if there's enough internal conflict to carry the plot.

Example from a recent brainstorm on my proposal (thanks to friends and editors):

I was able to answer these questions in the synopsis:

1. My heroine wants to bring an animal therapy program to Refuge. (goal) WHY? (Motivation)
Because she's an unconventional occupational therapist who has first hand knowledge and experience with animals helping humans since their family pets helped cure her mother's depression after her father died.

2. My hero is shy. WHY?
He stuttered as a child and was a late-in-life-baby and therefore was poorly socialized. Parents were older and didn't have him around other children his age. He's also a special ops airman. The shyness in conjunction with the bravery helps him to be multi-layered and not cliche according to the typical Alpha male.

3. My heroine is most resistant to the romance. WHY?
She watched her mother give up her dreams for her father and doesn't want anyone to make her push her dreams aside. As a pastor's daughter, she was taught that the woman must set her dreams aside for the husband. In addition, her motivation for this (wrong) belief is that her mother drilled it into her to make sure that she gets/does all she wants to in life before she gets married, because her dreams will be pushed to a back burner.

4. Spiritual struggle: Heroine is resistant to Christianity. WHY?
Because of her background with her pastor father putting his church before his family.

5. Part of the relational conflict: Hero being a quiet observer causes conflict with my chatterbox heroine who learned to try to do antics to earn her dad's attention and favor. She feels uncomfortable with silence because she was punished with silent treatments. Her dad used silence as a means to show his displeasure in her or with something she did. Their pasts help motivate part of the tension which drives the aspect of the story where they must learn to communicate. Heroine needs to become comfortable with hero's silence and he must be brave enough to venture out a little from his solace of silence. Heroine has to learn not to assume hero is displeased with her if he's not speaking. He has to learn her talk triggers and that when she's chatty, it's because (MOTIVATION) she is always thinking of others and trying to draw them into conversation. And not because she's trying to change him.

So I have MOTIVATED her spiritual struggle, her relationship reticence, fueled part of their relational conflict and much of the story conflict with MOTIVATION, which almost always stems from relationships or experiences from a character's past or present.

The easiest thing to remember is that MOTIVATION is the WHY and the BECAUSE.

There is much more to motivation, but hopefully this little train will get your creativity chuggin....

Writers, I'd love to hear what the main characters' motivations are for the book you're currently working on. What motivates both their goals and also what is the motivation that fuels their conflicts?

Readers, can you recall and name below in the comments a particularly memorable motivation from a recent book you've read?

Happy motivatin'! Join the discussion, Y'all. We've got rich, sweet Mocha Motivation Muffins in the next car back. Red Cranberry and Cinnamon Swirl Caboose Rolls and Train Whistle Tea on the cart as you step right in. Aaaaaaallll aboard!



  1. I've been reading and blogging about Debra Dixon's book Goal, Motivation, and Conflict! Yesterday I blogged about the C - conflict. :)

  2. Cheryl, here's my take on it:
    goal - eat a motivation muffin

    motivation - I'm really lacking motivation these days

    conflict - you brought up the word "caboose" and I remembered why I should lay off the muffins

  3. Cheryl, from my current book (set in 16th century Japan), the motivations are:

    Goal Motivation: Wants to find a husband to marry into the family business, her duty as she has no siblings.
    Conflict motivation: Wants to find a Christian man. However, Christianity is illegal.

    Goal Motivation: Wants to reconcile with his father, a high-level samurai.
    Conflict motivation: Not a Christian, but his best friend was and died for his beliefs.

  4. Cheryl!!!! Wow, I love the motivation you've given your hero and heroine in your WIP, my friend -- talk about multi-layered!!

    I have to admit, as a bona-fide pantser, the talk of GMC has always made me a bit nervous because like most pantsers, I just want to sit down and write.

    But I have learned (the hard way) that brainstorming characters' motivation ahead of time is crucial, ESPECIALLY when you are writing an ongoing series storyline with 14 main characters!!!

    In my current WIP, Refuge from the Storm, which is Katie O'Connor and Cluny McGee's love story that takes place at the onset of The Great Depression, here is my motivation:

    She is the strongwilled baby in a family whose father kept her under his thumb to keep her in line. She wants total control of her life and has an agenda to go to law school and marry well so she can further her dream of championing women's rights.

    As a charasmatic but dominant street orphan who was a pest from her past, he ends up as a gang leader on the streets of New York before a spiritual mentor sends him to law school. Now he is a penniless lawyer who works for the Boston Children Aid's Society because he'd rather help orphans on the street than make money.


  5. Ooo, that sounds good, Julie! You can't write that fast enough for me!

    Cheryl, your heroine sounds a lot like mine in the book I just finished! She was afraid to get married because she didn't want to end up like her mother. Her mother's whole life revolved around her husband, and when he died suddenly in an accident, her mother just withdrew from the world, even from her children, and the heroine, who was the oldest, has to come home and help care for her little brother and sister. The heroine also wants to get an education in a time when very few women did, and wants to be a history professor at a women's college.

    I'm just starting to brainstorm my new book. I had a story idea but then I completely scrapped it because I just wasn't excited about it. I like my new idea better, but I still haven't figured out the GMC for the characters. The heroine gets kidnapped, and the hero is a private detective who saves her. The heroine's fiance has just died. All she's ever wanted was to get married but that doesn't seem like enough of a Goal. And what's the Conflict between her and the hero?

    I have a lot more thinking to do. Anybody want to fly down to Alabama and help me brainstorm? I'll take you out to eat, buy you presents...

  6. Motivation, cool.

    My wip is called Sharpshooter in Petticoats...working title.

    About Mandy McClellen, the oldest daughter in Petticoat Ranch.

    Mandy is a widow from a man who managed to step on the toes of the wrong family and start a feud. Now, her husband is dead and she'd holed up with her three small children. Safe, as long as she stays in hiding.

    Enter the hero who pretty much kidnaps her children to make her come home with him.

    Her motivation is strictly the survival of her children. She'd risk her own life to face this pack of rabid wolves, but she can't risk her children.

    The hero's motivation is to protect her and claim her. He's been wanting to marry her since long before her bum of a husband died. Of course he never mentioned it. But now he's not going to let anything, including a small army of angry bad guys, stop him from claiming his woman...but he does had to keep her and her children alive. And now those bad men have extended their feud to include him.

  7. Katie, I love Deb's book and use that GMC model to plotstorm my stories. I'm going to check out your blog post on Conflict.

    Thanks for dropping by Seekerville!


  8. Debra, LOL! Love it. Have a great day and thanks for starting my day with a laugh.


  9. Walt, very awesome! Your story sounds interesting for sure. And the fact that you are able to state their motivation tells me your characters aren't going to be flat/lifeless. Interesting setting too! Keep us updated on your progress with the story! Thanks for stopping by Seekerville.

    Julie, I LOVE your writing and am so excited about your new series! I think your characters always have strong motivation. In the story you mentioned here, I especially like this:

    She is the strongwilled baby in a family whose father kept her under his thumb to keep her in line


  10. Julie, also meant to say that my favorite motivation is your hero here:

    As a charasmatic but dominant street orphan who was a pest from her past, he ends up as a gang leader on the streets of New York before a spiritual mentor sends him to law school. Now he is a penniless lawyer who works for the Boston Children Aid's Society because he'd rather help orphans on the street than make money.

    Now THAT got my heart right by its throat. I love orphan stories and characters who were orphans in their past. Excellent! Can't wait to read it. Love the title too! Hope they keep it.


  11. Hey Mel!

    I like your idea. I think most of our characters' motivations or at least part of their motivation with regards to their internal conflict will arise from the relationship they had with one of their parents. And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that your heroine also has the background of that she cared for her siblings. Hearing that automatically endeared me to her because it let me know she's a gutsy and caring person to have taken that on. It shows great strength of character for her to have stepped into the role of caregiver. And I think both of those things are solid reasons for her resistance to romance. Great job!

    And regarding your new story...sure she wants to have a relationship but what else? What else does she want out of life? Is there a hobby she's wanted to master or a career or a degree she's wanted to pursue? Or some kine of noble community outreach? What does she care about the most, other than romance? What was she doing when she was kidnapped? Where was she? Maybe she was at a cooking class and her goal is to learn to be a confectionary artist. LOL! Anyway...just getting your mind going...

    Her story goal can be anything concrete (certificate, degree, education, purchase a builging for a purpose, organize a local soup kitchen, etc, etc) that is attainable within a certain amount of time.

    Good luck with it!

    And if you want to brainstorm it more offline, e-mail me! No presents required. LOLOL!


  12. Mary, LOVE that premise!!!! I love the tough heroines in your books and especially those who know how to use a lethal weapon! LOLOL!

    I have a sniper heroine in an old unsold single title length story of mine.

    You come up with the neatest ideas and the coolest relational conflict. I'd say a heroine having been kidnapped by the hero is a pretty good motivator for conflict. LOLOL!


  13. Katie, if you stop back by, give us your blog URL. I couldn't find it. That way if anyone wants to check out your post on Conflict, they can.

    Okay...off to work on line edits. I'll check back in a bit.


  14. Hi Cheryl,
    A trip to BEA!!! What a great opportunity to pick the editors' brains, right? Share more about what you learned. Okay, the important stuff, like how small their offices really are and how many manuscripts are piled around the floor?

  15. Hey Cheryl, great post.

    These all sound so good, and Julie - I just knew you were going to put Katie and Cluny together. Can't wait!

    I'm working on a new suspense wip while on a plotting crse. My motivators are:

    Heroine - To return the child she abducted as an infant 14 yrs ago but only if she thinks the father now has time for him.

    Hero - Drives a school bus determined to ensure the kids get to school and home safely while in his care. At home scours the internet and yearbooks hoping to recognize his child because he so desperately wants him back.

    This is in the beginning stages, so if anyone has any ideas, suggestions or caveats, I'm open to them.

  16. Debby, I LOVED visiting the Harlequin offices. I was actually struck with how clean every editor's office was. Got to see Krista too! There weren't a lot of mss laying around as I expected. Everything was organized and the office fluent.

    BUT...I took pics of ALL the Fed Ex trucks lined up outside the building! What a hoot. And there's a Staples right across the street. Smart on Staples' part to perch themselves right there. LOL!

    As soon as you walk in they have on both walls lit marquees with author's covers in them. It's really gorgeous. And I saw several Seeker books on display on the display shelves right in the reception area!!! I took pics and will have to show them. Because of the building we were in and security I couldn't take certain photos, like of the gorgeous artwork inside the building, but if you ever get a chance to visit, GO!

    In the center of the offices, they have the production area which, at the back of it alone one hall, had this HUGE magnetic whiteboard with hundreds of words on magnets. It looked to be a plotting board or a storyboard or a creative thinking calalyzer of some sort. And I wondered what they do with it or how often they editors use it when they editorially massage our stories. It was really cool to see where they work. And everyone was very hard at work.

    It was a lot of fun. And hey...I survived several NYC cab rides!

    Thanks for stopping by!


  17. Hi Cheryl:

    Thanks for your very informative post. You made me thing of some of my past observations as a sales trainer. I believe that ‘motivation’ might be thought of as three related concepts: ‘motivation’, ‘motive’, and ‘as a motivator’.

    A student’s motive for going to college might be getting a degree and securing a better job. The motivation for going to class each day, and which might prevent him from dropping out of school, might be meeting girls and going to parties. The motivator behind all these actions could well be the GI Bill which is paying him to go to college. Without the money (and free education), this particular student might not be going to college at all. In all these cases it could be said that the student’s motivation was getting a degree, meeting girls, and not wanting to waste a ‘free’ education.

    A reporter once asked Vince Lombardi what plan he had to motivate his players before a Super Bowl game. He said, “I have 42 plans. One for each player.” All the players wanted to win the Super Bowl but each had different motivators. Some needed praise; some needed a kick in the rear.

    I think motivation, motivators, and motive can differ but I’m not sure how these differences play out in writing a romance.


  18. Hey Anita! Great seeing you. I have to say that THIS got my attention:

    Heroine - To return the child she abducted as an infant 14 yrs ago but only if she thinks the father now has time for him.

    WOW! I've never heard a premise like that and my interest is definitely piqued. So really, what you stated is her GOAL.

    But what's her motivation? WHY did she abduct the child to begin with? WHY does she suddenly want to give the child back? HOW will you get around her being arrested by the FBI and going to prison? LOL! I'm very interested to see that story unfold!

    Ask yourself the above questions because she's going to have to have some kick butt motivation for why she kidnapped someone's child. I know you can come up with something that will keep her likable and your hero. That's going to be a challenge since the things that will justify (properly MOTIVATE AKS give reason to) her actions, will maybe make him look bad. What a great challenge to be able to help the reader love both of these characters and what a great relationship conflict for sure!

    And as far as your hero, you said:

    Hero - Drives a school bus determined to ensure the kids get to school and home safely while in his care. [I CAN TOTALLY SEE WHY HE IS IN THIS JOB! EXCELLENT. DID HIS CHILD GET ABDUCTED AT THE SCHOOL BUS STOP?] At home scours the internet and yearbooks hoping to recognize his child because he so desperately wants him back.

    This "because" is your MOTIVATION. His wanting to find the child is his goal and a great story goal. I wonder why the heroine thought he was a bad dad though? Was it a misunderstanding? Or was he really a bad dad? If the latter is true, you're going to have to REALLY redeem him or readers will have a hard time loving him.

    You don't have to answer all these questions here. Just getting your mind going. :-)

    Thanks so much for coming by!


  19. Oh, great post. I love your examples, they bring it home nicely.

  20. Hi Vince! I think all those things, the three you mentioned, encompasses the concept of motivation.

    Because characters have to have good/sound reason for doing what they do or readers will have a hard time connecting with or being endeared to them. For instance, if I just have a heroine who is grump with a hero or a hero who is rude to a heroine, I'd better have a darn good reason for why he's acting that way.

    In the story I'm line editing now, the hero is very hostile toward the heroine. But she smashed his custom bike in chapter one because she was on the phone and driving.

    That in itself can weaken her...the fact that she was talking on the phone when she destroyed the bike that his late brother hand-built.

    BUT...come to find out, the heroine was on the phone BECAUSE her aunt topped down stairs on a medical scooter and was rushed to the ER...and she's on THAT call when she came into the rainy intersection. So that will help readers to be more understanding toward her actions. Because I've properly justified (motivated) it/her.

    I love the story about the ball players and the 42 reasons for motivation. Excellent. And in that case, motivators can be the same thing as a goal.

    When a character wants something (goal) they are motivated to act to get it and to work through whatever roadblocks are tossed their way. Good stuff.

    Thanks for coming by and contributing to the conversation.


  21. Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for coming by.

    Hey all, I just refilled the muffin tray. Have at it!



  22. Cheryl, I just finished A Soldier's Reunion.
    I love this series, girl.

    The animal rescue thing you're going to write about really meshes with A Soldier's Reunion and using a pet to help someone through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I think it's a great idea and you've got some building blocks for it already in A Soldier's Reunion.

  23. Thanks, Cheryl! The thing is, this is a sequel. This heroine is the sister of the heroine who was so ambitious and didn't want to marry. She's her opposite. All she ever wanted was to fall in love and have children and a home of her own. So I'm stumped as to what else she could want. I had her walking down the road with her best friend, crying a little as she re-hashes her fiance's death from an outbreak of Yellow Fever (it's the 1880's). The bad guys kidnap them both, since they're not sure which one they're after (the heroine's brother is rich and can pay a ransom). The hero has been tracking these guys after their last failed kidnapping attempt.

    I like your thought about taking a hobby and going with it. Maybe she's really good at baking and people have suggested she could open a bakery. I'm assuming they had those in 1880's. She lives in the country, a middle-of-nowhere tiny Southern town. Maybe she's thinking of moving away so she can open a bakery. But she's sort of timid. Maybe that would be something she could overcome.

    I just had another thought. Maybe she would like to open an orphanage.

    The hero--I'm not sure about his GMC either. He's a former Pinkerton who just opened his own detective agency. That's all I'm really sure of.

    But I won't take up any more blog comment space. My email is melaniedickerson at knology dot net in case you or anyone else has another idea (shameless plea). :-)

  24. Awww, Mary...THANK YOU! I'm glad you're enjoying the series and hope each book is better than its predecessor.

    This is a HUGE compliment coming from an author as prolific and as outstanding as you!

    I'm all grinny now!


  25. Hi Cheryl, What a hoot and toot to relate the GMC to a train and of course I loved all the cars full of food and tea. I'm with Debra though. Have to be careful of that caboose.

    I love how you worked out the GMC for your wip. Good job. Your books are always so interesting and inspiring as well. Thanks again.

  26. Examples help me learn. So, thanks for these.

  27. Melanie, I didn't realize this was a historical. I LOVE the orphan angle! Excellent. And her wanting to be a homemaker/wife/mom is a good goal. So many women will relate to that. I mean, it's why we read romance. I do think if you could have her also have a side goal of wanting to help the community or those less fortunate or something, that would deepen the emotion in the story even more and make her that much more endearing.

    Maybe she wants to host a sewing circle for orphan girls to learn to do domestic things like sewing or cooking or giving them lifeskills so they can better their chances of not becoming a spinster? Something like that so that she's reaching out to help other girls out of the situation (stuck in singlehood) she's in.

    Love your series premise with the two sisters!


  28. Sandra, the train idea was done on a whim after little sleep. LOL! So I thought it might be a little cheezy. LOL! But hey, one thing we love around here is food, right?

    Your books are definitely inspiring...especially to little ones.


  29. You're most welcome, Ann!

    Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by.


  30. Okay Cheryl, I won’t take up all your time (vying against Melanie, here LOL) and go into all the details of why the heroine abducted the baby but here’s the reason for returning him:

    She’s become a Christian since the abduction and strongly feels God urging her to return the child. But she’s a mother. How can she give up her child? But because it was so easy to snatch the baby in the first place, she thinks of the father as negligent so she makes a deal with God – she’ll give him up if the father is more attentive. Of course she believes this will exonerate her and she’ll get to keep the child with God’s blessing without the father or anyone else any wiser.
    That would be enough for motivation, wouldn't it? Or would it be too cliche to say 'God's telling her to do it'?

    The suspense comes into play because someone else saw the whole thing and has kept mum for personal reasons. Until now.

  31. OK here is my first try at this:

    My heroine had a carreer and married late and needs total control in all areas of her life. After getting married has accident almost dies and can't remember much about her past not even the wedding. In her healing she has to learn how to let go and let God and learn to trust her husband all while learning to be married in the eyes of the Lord and adjust to this whole new life of less control.

    Hero: she already married him, will be there all along.

    What do you think?? Milissa

  32. Cheryl, great post. I'm a late in life baby (Dad was 50; Mom 43) but I wouldn't say I have poor social skills. LOL! Assuming he's an only child, did he have cousins? School friends? Were his parents overprotective because he came so late in life?

    Of course, I love your writing, so I'll be interested to see where you go with this story.

    Julie, write faster, write faster... :D

    In a story I'm tossing around, he is a nutritionist who wants a woman who likes food and has a healthy self-esteem because his older sister suffered and died from an eating disorder. This propelled him into his current career.

    She thinks guys only want model types, which she'll never be. She keeps running into him at events involving food--not hard since she's a baker--and trying to present him with the image she wrongly believes he wants. (Which means she goes hungry a lot when he's around.) One of her goals is to lose weight. For real, this time. She has a habit of starting but not finishing things, because she doesn't see herself as good enough, and only fell into her profession because she dropped out of community college and her friend's parents offered her a job. Her goal to slim down is driving him crazy.

  33. Thanks, Cheryl! I like that idea. And the hero is an orphan himself, so that could juxtapose nicely ...

  34. Anita,

    A few more questions...when you say she's a mother, is she the actual birthmother of the child she abducted? Or has she had other children since she abucted a stranger's (or someone she knows') child? Or because she abducted this child and has raised it, does she see herself as the mother?

    I'm assuming you have a good reason why she took the child to begin with. How old was she? Because no matter how awesome your plot is, your characters have to have a pretty high level of likability despite their flaws.

    That's where motivation comes in. If you've given her a justifiably good reason for her behavior and for her line of thinking, then it could work.

    And as far as your hero, how old was he? A young dad? How did he know the heroine? How hard did he try to find the child? Is the FBI involved? Or is the woman who took the child the biological mother or a stranger or an acquaintence? All this will play into whether he comes across as someone readers will root for.

    I think that her having become a Christian since the abduction is a viable motivation. Definitely. But you're going to really need to have a good reason why she took that child (and kept him/her for all those years) in the first place.

    I'm not understanding if she's the actual birth mother and therefore has rights? If not, how did she know the child?

    Also, how proactive is/was your hero in finding the child? It has to be more than him just perusing yearbooks hoping to see the child. if his child was abducted by a stranger, the FBI would be involved.

    Is this a romantic suspense? Or what's the genre?

    Part of keeping your main characters likable and logical (crucial in any genre) is making sure their motivation (why they do what they do or want what they want. What drives them.) is sound.

    Your heroine's motivation for wanting to bring the child back is sound. But her thinking to be able to keep the child...that's iffy if she's not the birth mother. If she's not...who is? What's the story with the birth mother?

    Good luck on continuing to flesh out the story. It's an interesting premise and you'll have fun with the challenge!

  35. From Homespun Bride: "It's easy to fall into the habit of walking through life. It safer because you don't have to risk as much. You don't have to really feel. That makes it tough to know anything much of value, including Go's presence."

    This is typical of notes I take away from novels, where I feel God is talking to me. Thus, the reason for Christian novels, to spur us on to greater life in HIm.

  36. Millissa, so to clarify...this is an already-married romance that has an amnesia theme?

    Let me ask you..why does she need total control in her life? Because she married late? Or what's the reason? And did this need to control occur from childhood? Or as an adult? And if so before or after the marriage? Or before or after the amnesia following the wreck?

    Whatever it is making her need to control, that will be the motivation that drives her.

    What does your heroine want more than anything else in the world? (goal)

    Why does she want that? (motivation)

    What keeps keeping her from having it? (conflict)

    You're off to a good start! Keep up the good work. I did want to briefly mention that I've heard that already-married romances *can* be a hard sell to Steeple Hill though. I don't think they sell real well so they don't contract many at all unless it's from an established author who has a strong readership base. Not sure if you're targeting them or not. But I like the amnesia hook. Makes for an interesting story!

    Thanks for putting your idea out there. Takes a tremendous amount of courage to do that..and you're on the right track. Keep fleshing out the story and your characters.

    I'm curious as to how she's a control freak, meaning what is it that she wants to control. I actually know people like this so your premise is very plausible/realistic. And the amnesia gives it an interesting twist.


  37. Melanie, I also love the bakery idea. I'm sure they had a sort of bakery back then. May not be what they called it, but I'm betting they did.

    Best to you in fleshing it out!


  38. Hi Patricia! I should have better clarified in my original post. The hero's parents didn't socialize him. They always had him around adults rather than children. The main reason he's shy is because of a stutter that he overcame with therapy.

    No cousins nearby. And his peers made fun of him because of his stutter so he mostly kept to himself. Also, he's more of a quiet observer but he will actually talk about stuff he's passionate about unless for some reason he's self-conscious or in times of high-stress, stuttering.

    By the way, THIS:

    he is a nutritionist who wants a woman who likes food and has a healthy self-esteem because his older sister suffered and died from an eating disorder. This propelled him into his current career.

    IS EXCELLENT MOTIVATION!!!! The fact that he got into the career he did because of his sister's death. A very noble motivation too! Love it.

    Why does your heroine not see herself as good enough? Whatever your answer to that question is, will be the motivation behind her internal conflict/struggle.

    I can totally see some great comic relief in some of those scenes when she's trying not to eat around him! Keep me posted on its progress okay? It sounds like a fun story!



  39. Patricia, also meant to say that I LOVE that her trying to slim down drives him crazy. Now that's a guy ANY woman would love!!!! Excellent thinking!


  40. Carmen, excellent example. Very moving too! And something that most readers can definitely identify with. I love when an author writes in such a way that it speaks to a deep need in each of us. Thanks for contributing to the discussion!
    From Homespun Bride: "It's easy to fall into the habit of walking through life. It safer because you don't have to risk as much. You don't have to really feel. That makes it tough to know anything much of value, including God's presence."


  41. Hi Cheryl,
    I don't have anything to add really because I'm not creative enough! But your post was very inspirational! It is so cool that you post on all of these different blogs! I have a blog, but it's for my Honors Program thesis project. It's still interesting, just not like this. I plan on starting a book/reading blog, but I wouldn't have enough followers. I'd basically be doing it for my own enjoyment, which would be better with people reading it! Hahaha!
    Good job Cheryl. Your a very inspirational person,

  42. Hi Hannah!

    I'll bet your blog would be more interesting/popular than you think.

    Many people build a blog readership slowly...over a period of years.

    Thank you so much for dropping by Seekerville and blessing us with your presence!

    Come back here often, okay? This is my favorite place to play online.


  43. Cheryl,
    I'd love to get into this blog. What exactly is it for, if you know what I mean...? Like the CRAFTIE Ladies blog is for the Love Inspired books, what is this one for?

  44. Hey Cheryl, thanks for all the questions. You've certainly given me lots to think about. :)

  45. Anita,

    I'm like that two-year-old child who unceasingly asks, "WHY-WHY-WHY?"



  46. Cheryl,

    Thanks for the feed back. Actually it is based on my own life, the control issues came from almost dying and not knowing what tomorrow would bring. I don't recall being that way prior to getting sick but then again I can't even remember my wedding, and I didn't have to see a shrink until I got married!! LOL

    I could work it into a premarried romance I just think there is a story here, there is nothing like making decisions based on fear and trying to have control when we really have control over nothing, I learned (after paying for my shrink's new wing on his house I am sure!!) that we really have control over nothing, that is where faith in the Lord comes in.


  47. Lovely clear explanation of motivation and conflict. Thanks.

  48. Hannah, this blog is a group of writers who were on the contest circuit together. One of us decided to get us all together on a Yahoo group and The Seekers were formed as well as this blog. We all started out unpublished and to date over half of us have left Unpubbed Island. And those who are still on Unpubbed Island will be the first to hit the NYT Bestseller lists when they do get The Call.

    This blog is basically our way to reach out and give back by teaching about writing-related craft and contests and publishing industry-related tips.

    The best way to participate is to visit each day and read the posts from the Seeker gals. There is a plethora of wisdom here for aspiring writers. Whereas the Craftie ladies blog is mostly geared toward readers.

    But even if you're not a writer, you're always welcome here!

    We always have a lot of fun and there are fun discussions. I admit because of deadlines I haven't been able to comment on my Seeker sisters' posts much the last month. But this summer should be better for me.

    So I'll see you in the comment section here in Seekerville.



  49. Millissa, with the story being based on something that happened to you, it will really pack emotional punch.

    I'd just let the story play out as it's meant to be...even if it ends up being an already-married romance. Editors are looking for strong stories that move them. So if the story were strong enough, they would probably contract an already-married romance. It's just that you gotta know going into it that they sometimes can be tougher to break in with.

    I don't want anything I say to discourage you from writing the story in its strongest form. If your book ends up being as interesting/intriguing as your personal story, it's going to be great!

    Thanks for coming by!


  50. Sheila,

    I'm glad you found it helpful. Thank you for coming by and sharing your comments with us! Come back often.



  51. This post is SOOOO helpful, Cheryl! I recently read Debra Dixon's "Goal, Motivation, and Conflict" (at your expert recommendation), so this timely post cemented what I've learned! Many thanks! :)

  52. Hi Cathy! I'm glad you found it helpful. Another book that is one of my favorite as far as craft is Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel and the Workbook. Debby's got a great post on Maass and his Workbook today that I hope you will check out.

    Maass' books are also (in my opinion) Must-Have's. :-)

    Hugs all!