Monday, October 18, 2010

Welcome Debra Dixon!

Missy, here. I'm so happy to welcome special guest Debra Dixon to Seekerville today! I've known Deb for years through Georgia Romance Writers and BelleBooks. She is one busy woman who wears many hats! Deb is President and CEO of BelleBooks (I'll be eternally grateful for the ladies of BelleBooks taking a chance on this newbie and publishing my short story!), is a well-known speaker (I've LOVED all of her workshops I've attended), and is also a writer of fiction and non-fiction. Oh, and did I mention business consultant and software developer? Impressive!

Many of you probably know Deb through her amazing writing how-to book, GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict. It's one of my favorites! And I'll be giving away a copy today in a drawing from among those who comment. Remember, your comments will also put you in the Seekerville birthday party drawing for a Kindle!

Oh, and before I give the floor to Deb, I need to also mention her fantastic book that she co-wrote with her dad, When You're the Only Cop in Town. It was a huge help to me in writing my upcoming book from Love Inspired! (If you win the drawing and would rather receive this book, just let me know.)

And now, from Deb...

Hello! Thanks for having me. Because I understand that a lot of writers hang out here, I thought I'd share something I do which helps me understand story. I'm a great believer in mythic structure. When I find I'm watching a movie for about the 3rd time, that's my signal to "journal" the story. What is making me come back to that story? So, I get out my trusty movie journal, restart the movie, and begin to take notes about anything and everything.

THE HOLIDAY is a movie with two entwined, yet parallel stories. Below you'll find my journal, stream of consciousness. Because of the two storylines, I wanted to look at the 12 steps of the hero's journey. What I'm looking for when I journal is very simple: "How'd they do THAT?" How does the writer make me like a character by directing the action of the scene, with dialogue, with insight? How do I know what the movie/story is about? What information am I gathering that helps my subconscious understand the story?

I normally don't do this with a movie if I've never seen it before. (You get too distracted watching it!)

Let me know what you think and if you have an insights about THE HOLIDAY you'd like to share? Do you think I got wrong? How? Inquiring minds want to know. And we also want to know which movies you think we should journal.

My journal:

“Journaling THE HOLIDAY”
© Debra Dixon

Any reproduction or posting of this journal material requires the permission of the author.

This seemed like such a good idea. Who doesn’t like to watch movies? But let me warn you, this is a *long* blog. This is stream of consciousness. Thoughts that occurred as I watched the movie. I normally try and think about Hero’s Journey as I analyze a film, but remember that Hero’s Journey is not always in perfect order.

For instance in Amanda’s journey, I think that her reward comes before the finish of the ordeal. Plus you have multiple story lines in this one. Have fun. This is all up for debate. Normally I would watch the movie. Wait a couple of days and watch it again to do the analysis. Then study my notes, add some thoughts, organize them and then watch the film again. What you’re getting here today is hot off the press without even a serious attempt at correction. I did these on the computer and remembered why I use an actual paper journal. It forces you to get to the point instead of rambling. I can type much faster than I write. So...long blog.

I will note anything that appeals to me, because I want to remember how details support the themes, the internal conflicts. How contrast can make points for us, etc. Plus if you have trouble writing a synopsis this is a dandy way to give yourself practice "cutting to the chase" and moving the story along.

Okay, here we go...

Nonlinear structure to start, it’s all about "compare/contrast" what love is versus what we idealize it as. These vignettes offer something to learn about the characters in this contrast. I love compare/contrast. I think the reader learns so much.

6 different types of love or love phases. 1 perfect (movie being scored) 2 holding on too tight "blind" to who’s really in the relationship (Miles) 3 love that is fading (Amanda) 4 love lost (Arthur) 5 one night stand or "fleeting" love (Graham) 6 unrequited (Iris)

Discovering Iris - we see her with a beautiful package but no real joy in that gift. It’s sad for her. It has to be hidden away like her unrequited love. Love the metaphor. Inordinate attention to detail. With what he’s done wrong. Her inability to hold back the tears and conversation with friend are clear signal that she’s not come to grips with this situation. The friend is a mentor to tell her she’s not supposed to do his blooming laundry! We get Iris’ confusion about whether Jasper really is gone for good or if he’s maybe coming back. In an ironic twist she is a wedding writer. She writes about the happily ever after that she can’t have.

Ordinary World
Her ordinary world is the newspaper, specifically the office in which she is isolated from the others. The lie about him having bought her a gift creates embarrassment and "undeserved misfortune" which bonds us to a character. Her gift to him is a thoughtful one.

However, the excruciating embarrassment is to be publicly assigned to
sleeze boy’s wedding. This is clearly an ambush which he allowed to happen.

If your characters
aren’t getting it you have to punish them. On her way to the cottage it is the perfect picture of her "aloneness." No community. Single girl, tiny but charming cottage. Lived in. Her house is a hodgepodge and she’s also a mess.

Amanda’s world.
She has a boyfriend but he’s cheating on her. In some ways because she’s a workaholic. Her house is perfect and her life is a mess.

COMPARE CONTRAST with Iris. Amanda confronts a problem. Iris avoids. Iris bawls her eyes out. Amanda can’t cry. Amanda wants the blunt truth. Iris is happy with a sweet lie. Amanda will strike a blow and draws a line in the sand. Iris waffles.

The viewer is offered a contrast. A choice. Who do we like better? Neither one is in a good situation. Each handles herself differently We see Amanda being competent at her job.

Call– The emotional call to adventure is to put
sleeze boy behind. The physical call is to trade houses and get away to reevaluate her life. Amanda’s call to adventure is the breakup which forces her to face her life...that she doesn’t have one. It’s all work. So, she’s going to take that time, rest, relax. She needs a vacation. Amanda is all about controlling her world.

Their computer exchange offers more characterization. How characters present themselves, the nature of their answers gives the viewer information. refusal– Iris has a little refusal of the call to forget
sleeze boy when she briefly considers ending it all by sucking in the gas from her stove. The duration of the thought and the charming "What are you doing? Low point! Low point!" Help us quickly move on and give a bit of comedy to that sad moment.

Mentor– The jingle of the computer instant message jolts Iris out of her gas stove moment. In an odd way the jingle is a momentary mentor.

(AFTER THE POSTING CORRECTION: I couldn't stand the typos so I'm clearing some and in the process I think I'll mention that the jingle is actually the herald of the call to adventure.)

Amanda’s fictional life trailers offer her mentoring.

Cross threshold– Compare/Contrast in how they get to their destinations. Amanda appears to be tested before she’s ever really crossed the threshold into the adventure. We like this. This is prepayment for the good stuff later. This
blonde chick with lots of money and great sweaters is earning a little sympathy and then her charming happiness at the cottage makes us like her. Iris is stunned, does nothing hard to cross the threshold, but she goes through a gate, through the door, taking us on a tour of the special world. We know we’re not in Kansas anymore and she’s already earned a little good will from us because of sleeze boy. Amanda needs intimacy. Iris needs to look up and see the great big world of possibilities. Is it just a happy coincidence that their physical accommodations for Christmas are metaphors for what the girls need to learn? I think not.

Tests allies enemies Amanda - Walking the country lane, driving, finding food, making fire, dealing with her inability to just "be" and relax, her tragic inability to sing. And then comes Amanda’s decision that this relaxing stuff is not for her, she’s getting out her suitcase. Refusal of the call. Iris- trying to open the gate-test. Miles will be an ally, someone to help her discover new things.

(AFTER THE POST CORRECTION: Miles is actually a mentor by bad example and in a classic move the mentor is stripped from Iris when Maggie calls him back/away from Iris who must then face Jasper alone.) The girlfriend is obviously an enemy in the sense that she offers no encouragement to Amanda and
retrieves Miles from Iris’ clutches.

Foreshadowing for when she takes him away again. The old man shuffling by will be a test for her.

The story of the wind is a mentor. "Anything can happen when the winds blow."

Characters need to take the texture of their worlds and apply it to their lives.

Amanda– An ally shows up in the form of Iris’ drunk brother, Graham. He’s a great example of how to take a character who could be negative and presenting him with charm.

Despite being drunk, he has manners. He asks if it’s okay to sit. Little things tell us he’s a good guy. He
doesn’t drive drunk. Beautiful misdirection as well. He’s the charming wastrel who will transform into the lost widower. Amanda’s new call – Will she share the house with Graham for the night and that transforms to will she share her vacation with him which transforms to will she share her life with him when he’s everything that is wrong for her. The kiss between Amanda and Graham is a test.

EFFECT is important. Her little stumble afterward is the first moment that we’
ve seen her out of control. Big signal. First step in transforming Amanda from the controlled person she is to someone who feels deeply. Graham’s call to adventure is sex with Amanda which he is reluctant to accept because he’s cast in the role of "cabana boy."

COMPARE/CONTRAST Graham’s approach to sex with Amanda’s approach to sex. What are the conflicts to the adventure with Graham? She’s not staying. Women call him. He’s got one foot out the door the morning after because he assures her there is only grief to be found with him because he’s a mess. He has no follow through. She promises she won’t fall in love with him.

ve very clearly drawn their conclusions that this is a non-starter from all angles. But, he tosses out a bone about a dinner with friends at a pub.

Amanda says it when she says there’s something about a stranger. Starting fresh in terms of expectations. At the airport, her film trailer mentor encourages her to stay in the adventure, to let life unfold.

Enemy for Iris is Jasper asking her to read pages and starting his assault on her resolve.

Test for Iris is helping the old guy who becomes her mentor. He gives her the best advice about being the leading lady of her own life instead of the best friend. Not that secondary character she’s been playing.

What she’s finally learned is how she
shouldn’t be behaving. She has yet to learn how she SHOULD be behaving.

This is that first nudge toward change. An important character realization. Iris is rewarded for her kindness by discovering that the old guy is actually a distinguished writer with fabulous stories to tell of an interesting era. He becomes the doorway to her discovering how good men feel about their wives, how gentlemen treat women, how she should be treated.

Test for Amanda and Graham is the "morning after" they
didn’t. Graham proves he’s hero material because he didn’t sleep with an unconscious woman. Calls from women create superficial conflict.

She’s one of many, not special. The drunk/not sleeping provide scene tension created by Amanda’s embarrassment. Lunch is a getting to know/trust you tests for both. He proves he can handle strong women because of his mother.

Amanda comes clean about the event that triggered he decision to shut down her really deep emotions.

COMPARE CONTRAST. We discover that Graham weeps like a baby at the drop of a hat.

Conflict is that Amanda is leaving. She’s not ready for complicated. She puts the brakes on.

What I love about this is the lovely, charming way they part without melodrama. Gosh, just like grown-ups. The see the place of perilous danger and uncertainty–a relationship that has so much against it because of the distance and not coincidentally Amanda’s fear of deep attachment.

Back in LA, Miles arrives to complicate Iris’ vacation. He’s a complete contrast to Jasper.

We see a little growth in Amanda as she recognizes the blank card is another nail in a coffin. She tosses the pages aside,
doesn’t put them lovingly or regretfully down. We see Iris create community.

We learn about Miles as a "one woman at a time guy." We see how alike Miles and Iris are. Miles is making plans with the guys. Miles makes connections, like Iris. Neither are pretentious.

Test is the leave taking at the door with the "twice kiss." But he manages to make it humorous rather than
sleezy, hitting on her.

Amanda’s film mentor returns to chastise her about her unwillingness to change and how she pushes guys away.

This goads her to action, to pursuing the thing that might turn out badly.

Approach inmost cave Graham’s house functions as the inmost cave, that place of perilous danger and uncertainty.

Her brave new offer is shut down as soon as she realizes he’s not alone. Oops! She discovers these are the "women" who have been calling Graham. Lovely flip of people’s expectation!

Ordeal- Widower status is revealed, changing everything she thought about Graham. Meeting Graham’s kids, surviving the night with all of them.

Reward Moment in their tent when she realizes how much she and Graham have in common about what family life should be like for little girls – "three musketeers."

Amanda is one of a group for the first time in the show instead of being the boss or controller. Life is happening around her and she’s letting it happen. The girls adore her and invite her to sleep over.

Maybe this can work. What did the ordeal cost? Graham
doesn’t know how to do this-dating/relationship. Once it becomes serious, he has to back away. He’s afraid of what it might to do to him and his girls if he lets someone in he may never see again. She’s just someone he had sex with once and slept with twice.

NOTE: Graham and Amanda are pursued on the road back to their normal lives by the opportunity to chat through Iris. In which the sex is revealed to Iris. Also its clear that their time alone now weighs on them.

And of course, Graham showing up at the door later is a big pursuit.

At this point Iris accepts another call to adventure which is to get Arthur to the award ceremony.

Arthur refuses the call.

Iris becomes his mentor, encouraging him, etc.

Iris ordeal ?? I believe it may be her reliving the loss of Jasper with Miles playing "her" role. In helping Miles she faces her pain in the sharpest way yet.

She finally confronts her situation with Jasper in bold black and white. No more fudging on Jasper and how he made her feel. The loss is sharp, fresh and cutting. Miles articulates Jasper’s devious plan to keep Iris from starting fresh.

What does she lose? That little bit of a lie she’d still been holding on to that she
wasn’t that stupid. That she hadn’t been so pitifully pathetic and easy to manipulate. But she was.

It’s very clear in retrospect. No more hiding from the fact that she was every bit to blame for letting this happen. Iris reward is the song Miles writes for her. resurrection After sex the same old problem rears its ugly head.

isn’t willing to fully commit. She can’t face the possible loss so she buries the relationship before it starts.

And when he says he loves her, she can’t respond from her heart. Her head is still winning. She won’t jump in and commit just as the guy we saw in her first scenes has said.

In the limo on the way out, she can’t handle her emotions. For the first time in a long time. She cries and has to run all the way back to Graham, willing to jump in with both feet now. Of course he’s a weeping mess which is great. And when he’s afraid his having the girls will scare her off New Year’s eve, she says that will be perfect.

For Iris her
resurrection begins when watching Miles jump to Maggie’s tune again. Here it is. She’s being shoved aside again, #2 in the scheme of things. And to top it off Jasper arrives to romance her but is still engaged.

He leads her on using the same half-truths and omissions designed to give her hope. Iris will continue to be a door mat unless she changes, makes different decisions that she has in the past. She has to become the leading lady of her own life.

This time she
doesn’t accept vague language that her heart wants to hear. She wants blunt words with no ambiguity. She stands up for herself and has the confrontation that has been brewing for three years.

We dramatically see her resurrection as someone who is more than she was before. She’s no longer in love with Jasper. She’s going to live her life.

Return with the
elixir- We see what Iris offers to Arthur. We see her visually lending him strength when she grips his hand, showing that she has enough to spare. Miles arrives just in time. Knowing her has helped him break off the toxic relationship with Maggie and he’s obviously not pining. The girls have a mother again. Iris and Miles pursue their relationship.

Missy, again. We'd love to hear from you! If you haven't seen the movie yet, go rent it! Then let us know what you think about the steps of the hero's journey as Deb has shared in her journal. Have you ever studied movies, tried to analyze them? I think it's a great way to learn writing techniques. I hope you'll share any thoughts on the post or on studying movies. Remember to leave your email address if you want to be entered to win a copy of GMC (or Only Cop in Town) and to be entered for the month-long contest for the Kindle!

P.S. After you leave your comments, you may want to check out my previous post where I show an example of GMC for one of my books. Click here.

Also, visit Deb at


Helen Gray said...

Haven't seen the movie.

Need to go back and reread this when I'm fresher.

Would love either book.

Coffee pot's on for 4 A.M.


Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

I haven't seen this movie in a while but I do love it! It's always on tv though so I should definitely make a point to watch it again! I think we should all have a girls night in and watch North and South, the BBC movie with *sigh* Richard Armitage. I think we could totally have fun journaling it ;-)

I already won on here recently so just consider this my Kindle entry.

XOXO~ Renee

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Oooo you beat me Helen LOL!

XOXO~ Renee

CarolM said...

I've never seen it. Guess it's worth it? :)

I'm not quite awake enough to read it and comprehend anything but gotta wait to change the laundry...

Count me in for the drawing :). Kindle baby!

carol at carolmoncado dot com

KC Frantzen said...

Once again, Seekerville shines! Thanks Missy for inviting Debra and Debra, thank you for this. I've not seen it so, now I need to!

I've done something similar, though not as formalized, with a couple of movies.

You make a great point about what keeps us coming back...

I'd love to be entered - thx! May at maythek9spy dot com

Since it's early (or late) I've set out some trail mix and pretzels to go with some decaf teas.

Hello other nite owls - Helen and Renee!

KC Frantzen said...

And Carol too!

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Hahaha KC you forgot the Mtn's my midnight beverage of choice :-P

XOXO~ Renee

Missy Tippens said...

Man, y'all are quick! :)

I've seen the movie and really enjoyed it. But I need a refresher. I love to analyze movies, though! And I've used them to inspire my writing.

I watched the newer Sabrina and had the Harrison Ford character in mind when I wrote one of my books.

Helen, thanks for the coffee!

Renee, I love the idea of a night in! Would you believe I've never seen North and South?

Carol and KC, thanks for stopping by so early--I mean late! :)

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

@ Missy *GASP* You've never seen North and South?! You are REALLY missing out, trust me I am an expert on most romantic films and chick flicks, well not really but...

XOXO~ Renee

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

I really liked this movie, thanks for reminding me of it!

Something in Debra's post made me laugh and I thought I'd share it. Picture this sentence alone, without knowing the movie or any of the characters or the situation they were in:

"...he’s hero material because he didn’t sleep with an unconscious woman."

Hmmm... hero, for that :) lol Now I know Graham and what Debra meant, so I get Graham as a hero, but could you imagine writing that in a synopsis. :)

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Missy Tippens said...

Renee, I know! Gasp-inducing truth. ;)

LOL, Eva Maria!! :) Yes, taken out of context, quite funny.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

I happen to be the President of the Debra Dixon fan club.

I own every single one of her books and my copy of GMC is thread bare.

This is an all day workshop.

I'm going to watch the movie again and use this handy dandy GMC guideline to see if I can correctly guess the turning points.

Thank you, Deb!!

Debra Dixon said...


Hey folks! You guys are early birds. (Late birds is probably more like it!)

And, yes, I think the new definition of heroes is that they don't sleep with unconscious women. It's really such a simple guideline. Even a man could follow it. (g)

Tina-- Excellent! I've been looking for a President for the Fan Club. I've actually been looking for a *Fan Club* so I'm extra happy. LOL! Seriously, I have to be a fan right back for anyone who has all my books.

Renee Ann said...

Thanks, Debra! As I read through your journal, I was able to "re-view" the movie and learn something from it also! (I've always loved the parts where Amanda becomes one of the "three musketeers" with the little girls and where Miles sings movie soundtracks for Iris.)

I remember thinking the movie was a bit unbalanced as it tried to tie all the story lines together. But reading this made me see more of the parallels the writers were going for.

Though it's not a classic like North and South (Thanks for reminding me about Richard Armitage, Renee!), I can see how the writers were borrowing from classic story elements to create the film. Yet when I watched it, it just seemed like . . . life.

Thanks again for an interesting, challenging post!

reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Edwina said...

I loved this movie and Debra,I think your journal hit it "spot on."

Since I'm still in the learning phase (do we ever get out of this phase) I need to read GMC! Thanks for this opportunity!


Charlotte said...

Please enter me in the giveaway:)

Julie Hilton Steele said...

This is great. I really appreciate the use of visual stories as examples. Now I can tell my husband my DVD collection is a learning tool!

Please put me in for the GMC drawing. I am building my writing library.

Missy, I loved the Harrison Ford version of Sabrina.

It's state fair week here in NC. The big news at the food booths this year is the Krispy Creme cheeseburger. Too early for that unusual combo so I just brought the donuts.

Thanks again, Debra, for your insights!

peace, Julie

Debra E. Marvin said...

I met Debra and bought GMC at a writer's workshop in Syracuse NY a 'long time ago' so I've been a "he wants________ because he ___________ but ____________" plotter forever!

Thanks for giving movie watching as homework.

I'd be happy to chair the WNY branch of the fan club, Tina.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb, this is total stream of consciousness learning! Loved it.

I saw a while back something you said about how GMC took off and developed a life of its own while you'd thought the idea was somewhat simplistic.

Amazing what seems clear and concise to one can be such a huge page-opener to others. It would be more amazing if you never said any such thing and I just made that whole thing up.


Thanks for being here today, and we brought a great Monday morning food spread to turn out the welcome mat. There's Southern breakfast being served on the rotunda after 7 AM, including made-to-order omelets (we had to get Bruno a chef's hat, and the grass skirt is a little less than urbane, but the table hides most of it), buttery biscuits, gravy, grits, more gravy, brandied peaches, Texas toast and lots of coffee.

Flavored. Straight. Tea. Hot. Cold.

Sweet tea coming in later with tea cookies for all.

Just lovely. Thank you, Deb!!!

Sherrinda said...

I've heard oodles of testimonies about the Debra's book so I know it is a masterpiece! I'm going to close my eyes and say it real fast...."I've never read Debra's GMC book!" *gasp* BUT I SURE WOULD LOVE TO!!!!

Loved The Holiday and I loved your breakdown of Graham. A drunk with manners. :) I must say, he was yummy in that movie.

I'd love a chance to get my hands on GMC!

Jessica Nelson said...

LOve this! Makes me want to go see the movie again. LOL

Patsy said...

Wow, that was detailed! You put a lot of thought and writing into it. I need to watch this movie. Oh, somebody mentioned North and South. I love that movie!

Rose said...

What a wealth of information! I haven't seen the movie so I can't comment on if you 'got it right' or not.

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Debra and welcome to Seekerville,

Hey, I'll be the president of the Arizona Fan Club. You've been out to talk to our Desert Rose group so I know there are tons of fans here. smiling

Love your advice to analyze movies. As Debra M. said, great homework assignment.

Thanks again for stopping by.

mary bailey said...

Great post, Debra! I don't think I've ever analyzed a favorite movie quite like this before, but I'm going to try it. There must be something special in the story that keeps me coming back for more!

Thanks for the chance to win GMC!


Debbie Kaufman said...

Hey Seekers and Deb:
First of all you gals are way too early/late for me, LOL. The omelets sound great, I'll take mine with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese, please.

Deb: Loved your presentation at GRW. This stream of consciousness is very helpful. I've got a couple of favorite movies that I'm going to have to go back and do this with them.

Loves 2 Read Romance - Laura said...

Hey everyone! First off I want to say congrats to all the winners so far. Also thank you Debra for coming and sharing with us. I haven't watched the Holiday is a while but I remember liking the movie I will have to catch on TV sometimes. Missy I haven't seen Sabrina with Harrison Ford. I fell in love with the 1957 version with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. After seeing it I tried to watch the Harrison Ford version on TV but it wasn't the same I ended up changing the channel.

fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

KC Frantzen said...

One of my fave moo-vies (as we say 'round hee-yah) is "Legally Blonde" for just this reason. Every time I watch, I learn more in the "how did they DO that dep't." My romantic hubby adores it too. Funny, since most guys think of it as a chick flick it seems.

Everyone have a great week. Pepper and I can co-chair the TN branch. Thanks again Debra!

Tori Lynn said...

Please enter me in the drawings.


Julie Lessman said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Deb -- your name has been revered in these halls for a long, LONG time now!!

And how ironic is it that my hubby and I JUST watched this movie Saturday night, and I gotta tell you that I am BLOWN AWAY by your "stream-of-consciousness" journaling!! Talk about dead-on and imparting things I NEVER saw until you pointed them out. Which just goes to show that you are a LOT deeper than I am and that I definitely need to get your book!!

Thanks for the great workshop today, Deb, and can I be Vice President of that Fan Club???

And, Helen ... good job beating Renee out this morning, girl. Chalk one up for the BabyBoomers!!! :)


Missy Tippens said...

Tina is telling the truth! I've never seen anyone as excited as when I said that Deb was going to visit the blog. :)

Tina, I'll join your fan club, too.

Missy Tippens said...

Renee Ann, I also just saw it as life. I guess the movie was good enough that as I watched, I tuned out my writer brain. Quite a feat! I usually sit here and drive my family crazy saying out loud what is going to happen next and how a movie is going to end. They all just hate to watch movies with me now! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Edwina, I don't think we ever get out of the learning phase. At least I won't. I love learning too much. And still have so much to learn!

Missy Tippens said...

Charlotte, thanks for stopping by!

Missy Tippens said...

Julie, yes! Count those DVD's as home workshops in a box. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Debra, I always have that sentence in my head as I think up story ideas! :)

Digging for Pearls said...

Never seen the movie, but I like the idea of analyzing what makes it a good movie (or book).

Jodie Wolfe

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, thanks for bringing breakfast! But you better leave the grits to me. I'm afraid you'll make them all lumpy.

And the sweet do know it takes 1 to 2 cups of sugar for a pitcher, don't you? And let that sugar dissolve in a little bit of water first thing, okay?? Can I trust you with it? Because you know Deb is a Tennessee gal, don't you? You've heard her talk, right?

On second thought, maybe you should leave the tea making to me as well. No offense or anything!

;) hehe

Missy Tippens said...

Sherrinda, did you click your heels together, too? Maybe you'll win! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Jessica, Patsy and Rose, the movie's on Netflix if you have that! :)

Melanie Dickerson said...

GMC is a great book! And I would love to win a copy. I've read it once, but I was too poor to buy it so checked it out through inter-library loan.

The Holiday is a really nice movie. I liked it, but I'm not very good at analyzing movies. It feels too much like work. :-)

Missy Tippens said...

Sandra, what talk did y'all get to hear in Arizona? One of my favorites is one she did at RWA one year (and maybe M&M as well). It was called Climbing the Slippery Slope. LOVED that workshop!

I've also loved the one where she combines GMC with the hero's journey.

Missy Tippens said...

Mary B., I have several movies that I watch over and over. I'm interested in breaking them down now. One is Nanny McPhee. Another is Miss Congeniality. And another that would be really interesting to study is Phantom. I literally weep every time I watch it!

Oh, and my all-time fav, E.T. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Laura, you won't believe this, but I haven't seen the original Sabrina! I've heard several people who liked it much better. I'll definitely have to watch it.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, I've never seen this movie...but I loved reading your stream of consciousness and analysis of it. I've never read your books, Debra...but I really would like to (especially GMC). I think I'm going to try this with a few of my favorite movies soon.


Missy Tippens said...

Debbie K, good morning! Good to see you here! :)
KC, I LOVE Legally Blonde!! That's another we own that we've watched multiple times. What's that hilarious part--bend and snap? LOL

Missy Tippens said...

I've got you entered, Tori Lynn!
Julie! Yes! You need to get this book! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Jodie, yes, definitely give it a try sometime. I've often watched movies to help with learning why I love certain stories.

Missy Tippens said...


Feels like work?? And writing isn't work?? ;)

Missy Tippens said...


You'll have to let us know how it goes!

Kelleyand said...

A free book? What an awesome website. I will be back to visit often. (Especially if there is a chance to win a Kindle!!)

Missy Tippens said...

Kelley, we're glad you found us and hope you will come back!

Renee Ann said...

Missy, that's so funny! I used to guess out loud about what was going to happen in movies. After reading so many books, it seemed only natural to me! However, my younger sister trained me with some not-so-subtle threats after I burst into tears near the beginning of a movie because I guessed the hero was going to die! (And who wants to see Richard Gere give his life away??!!)

(I've already put Debra's book on my wish list in case I don't win today, but I love visiting with the Seekers!)

Deb Salisbury said...

I would love to win Deb's GMC!

I don't watch movies, though, so most of her analysis was lost on me.

Welcome to Seekerville from another Deb. :-)

Mary Connealy said...

Thanks for being on, Debra. I attended a workshop you held in Lincoln, NE about...two? or three years ago...and got your book there so don't put me in the drawing.

WAIT! What's that? Seekers don't get to be in any drawings?


Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Deb! Goal, Motivation and Conflict is a fabulous tool for writers! So a huge thanks for the book and for being with us today.


Holly said...

I haven't seen this movie in years, so unfortunately I don't remember it, but it's (tying the post to the movie) is an interesting premise.


Rebekah E. said...

Thanks for coming today.


Erica Vetsch said...

I LOVE Debra Dixon's GMC! I use that book every time I plot a novel.

ericavetsch at gmail dot com

Casey said...

What a way to look at a movie. Though I have never seen it personally. But to watch the journey from start to finishe is what makes a story truly great. I have watched movies or television shows and just tried to figure out what makes the characters memorable.

Like (because I am a CHUCK fan), why do I love Casey so much (and not because we share the same name!) Yes he is grumpy, but underneath he is a soft marshmellow. His care for his daughter, his defense of Chuck, even though he is a gun nerd and is always growling, I as the viewer have seen his past and know what he is all about. That is what makes him so memorable.

Anyway, if you haven't seen CHUCK, ignore my comment! :) I have been looking forward to this post for a long time, so great to read it, thank you!

I would really love to be entered to win a copy of this book, I can't find it on Amazon anymore. :(


Debra Dixon said...

You guys are cracking me up as the various states bloom with Fan Club organizers. (g)

And I have, indeed, said on more than one occasion that I originally thought this concept was so simple that the publisher would never sell the books. That was 9 printings ago and I've come to accept my place as Cult Leader.

Oh and the GMC/Hero workshop Missy's talking about isn't the all-day two part workshop on each of the elements. It's a workshop in which I walk through a book and cover what GMC is doing in each of the Hero's Journey stages, plus how the Hero's Journey develops in an actual book. And Missy loves so she's totally biased.

Those of you who don't have your own personal copy of GMC, don't feel bad. Just go down to that library and give them the publisher's url and tell them you want them to have this book! Library Journal rated it a "must have" for library collections. So tell your librarian that all the cool libraries have it. (g)

Debra Dixon said...

Where to get GMC for the measly $20 the publisher charges and NOT the stupid amount of money you see charged by resellers on Amazon: and just click on the link that will take you to the publisher.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Seriously, this REALLY IS a must have classic. There are knock offs around like Prada. But you have to have the real thing. Who else could break down the Wizard of Oz into GMC?

Fantastic. I'm a slow learner and I have re read it dozens of times.

And if you ever have a chance to go to a workshop don't walk. It will change your writing.

Finally if you haven't read Deb's suspense with the ice skating nun, go to Amazon and find a seller who will send it to you. EXCELLENT STUFF.

Susan Anne Mason said...


Wonderful post! I attended your GMC workshop held in Toronto around 2006. It was the very first writing-related meeting I had ever attended and I was so impressed. I loved your accent, your sense of humour and the simplistic way you explained things. I ordered your book right away and have used the concepts over and over. Plus I usually end up recommending it to a lot of writers when I judge contests. (I should get a commission!)

So don't enter me in the book drawing. I hope whoever wins it enjoys it as much as I did.

P.S. After that wonderful all-day workshop, I joined the Toronto Romance Writers! Thanks Debra!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Oh Missy Miss Congeniality would be fun to break doww and when you say Phantom do you mean The Phtnaom of the Opera? If so that has got to be one of my all-time faves and I agree, I would love to see that one journaled!

XOXO~ Renee

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Renee Ann! I haven't burst into tears prematurely before. But I have groaned and said, "Oh, no. I know what's going to happen."

Then everyone yells, "Be quiet!"


Missy Tippens said...

Deb S., thanks for stopping by.

Mary, Mary. tsk, tsk. You know you can't enter your own contests! Think how that would look if you won! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Hi, Janet, Holly and Rebecca!
Erica, I use GMC every time as well. I make a chart.

Missy Tippens said...

Casey, I've never seen Chuck, but now you have my interest peaked! I'll have to see if I can get it on Netflix.

Missy Tippens said...

Sue, I'm glad you've had a great experience with Deb's teaching as well!

Missy Tippens said...

Renee, yes. Phantom of the Opera. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy Tippens, grits are BORN lumpy.

Frosting is smooth...

French silk frosting: smoother

Abbott's Frozen Custard here in upstate NY??? Smoothest.


Honey-lamb, all right, you take over the grits, and I'll do the sweet tea.

You mean you use real sugar? Not aspartame?

You would waste a buttzillion calories on a glass of tea???

And who know HOW MANY carbohydrates???

Oh mylanta, all right, I'll make the food, the normal food, and you do whatever it is you Southern gals do since Deb is one o'youse.

I'll make pie.

I make really good pie.

Janet Kerr said...

I am printing this one out. Thanks so much for the great information.

Missy Tippens said...

Pie sounds good, Ruthy! I trust you on that one. ;)

Janet K., thanks for stopping by!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Though I don't keep a journal (I should!), I do this same thing with books. Sometimes, I'll reread a bad book to see what NOT to do. Other times, I'll reread a great book to see what I SHOULD do.

Thanks for sharing. I'd like to have the Cop book if you draw my name.


lr. mullin at live. com

Linnette R Mullin said...

MISSY - I thoroughly enjoyed "His Forever Love." Thanks!


Missy Tippens said...

Linnette, I do the same thing with books. And judging contests has been a huge help as well.

I'm so glad you enjoyed my book! :)

Pam Hillman said...

I love my copy of GMC! And I've been to a couple of Deb's workshops on the topic.

The first was hosted by the MSRW chapter in ago! lol

But, good writing advice never changes, and Deb's GMC ranks up there with one of the best.

Pam Hillman said...

Missy said: And the sweet do know it takes 1 to 2 cups of sugar for a pitcher, don't you? And let that sugar dissolve in a little bit of water first thing, okay??

And that's HOT water, btw.

Same with homemade cocoa. Cocoa, sugar, a dab of HOT water to make a thick paste until the cocoa and sugar dissolves. Then add milk.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


hot chocolate....

old fashioned.

We northern girls will not concede the race for the best hot chocolate.

Sweet tea, MAYBE....

Bug spray, yes, you guys win, hands down.

Hot chocolate?

Now you're talkin' my neck o' the woods, darlin'.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Deb. Great insight. Michael Hauge came to M&M this year and talked movies. So much to learn from them. You're a master at identifying each element in the story. I need to get the flick and rewatch while keeping your blog close at hand.

Love your GMC! And the book about your dad! Both favorites are on my home reference shelf!

Thanks for being with us in Seekerville today!

Missy Tippens said...

Good reminder, Pammy! Of course, like Ruthy said, we only make that hot chocolate a few times a year. Mainly, for our one snowfall. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Debby! Can we share your great news? :)

Susie Sheehey said...

Thanks so much Debra!


Leigh said...

Wow, what a packed post to start the week! I've not seen the movie but would love to watch it with your notes to see how things follow along. Just another good reason to curl up with a DVD and bowl of popcorn!

The more I learn about GMC, the more I realize I have to learn. But that's part of what keeps it fun. :-)


Missy Tippens said...

Thanks for dropping in, Susie!
Leigh, popcorn and movie night sounds good. :)

Vince said...

Hi Debra:

Reading this post, without having seen the movie, was partly a Gestalt experience and partly a Roshak test. I can’t be sure if any of my observations, no matter how poignant, exist anywhere outside of my head.

One point, however, did stand out and while this may be projectionism on my part, I think your comment that Graham proved that he was hero material because he didn’t sleep with an unconscious woman, well, I think that sets the bar for being a hero a little too low. : )

I’d love to read GMC and learn what everyone is talking about.

BTW: does GMC get into plotting? I love books on plotting.


vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Cindy said...

The Holiday is one of my favorite movies - but I haven't seen it in a couple of months. Your analysis brought it right back to life for me.

I know that I certainly watch television and movies differently since I started trying to write. And, this will certainly give me fresh eyes.

I would love the chance to win a copy of GMC - I've heard a lot about it since I started writing this past year.


Renee said...

I haven't seen The Holiday, now I want to. I've never analyzed a movie to the hero's journey. In fact, I've never really studied the hero's journey (I'll have to go back and check it out. Somebody did a workshop on it recently). I have looked at classic movies for definite changing points, black moments, and the hea. I've never journaled them though.

Thank you for such an informative post, Debra.

reneelynnscott [at]

Lisa Wells said...

Wow, there are a lot of comments on this blog. I'm a "how to" junkie, and the one book I hear about over-and-over again is Deb Dixon's GMC. Everyone universally agrees it is a must have.

It was a treat to read your blog today on the movie The Holiday. Thanks for the insight.

Lisa Wells said...

One more thing - Debra I really want to be able to buy your book as an e-book on my Nook. Any chance of it being offered as an e-book anytime soon?

Lisa Wells said...

One more thing - Debra I really want to be able to buy your book as an e-book on my Nook. Any chance of it being offered as an e-book anytime soon?

Anonymous said...

That's so insightful. I liked Holiday and thought Jude Law's performance was incredible. I'd love to win a copy of Goal, Motivation, Conflict.

Mary M

Anonymous said...

Golly gee another post packed with info.

Thanks Deb.

Sometimes GMC throws meet when I try to outline it

Tina Pinson

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...


Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

I'm a little disappointed so many of you folks don't have it.

Run, run run to the Gryphon site.

Myra Johnson said...

Debra, thanks for sharing this with us! It's been awhile since I've seen The Holiday, but reading your journal notes brought much of it back for me. Interesting analysis!

Tina, you're kidding, right? Doesn't EVERY writer own a copy of GMC???? I thought that was an unwritten requirement of becoming a novelist!

Joy Tamsin David said...

Debra's GMC book is a classic and it's on my keeper shelf.

I'd love to win a copy of the Only Cop in Town book.

Walt M said...

I haven't ever seen this movie, but I have tried to do something similar with books that show you how to watch a movie for plots/turning points/etc. It's not an easy thing to do.


barbjan10 said...

As a new and uneducated writer, I actually made sense of what Debra said. I too need to go back and read all this when I have a clearer mind, but I would like to have her book in hand to study from. Journaling about a favorite movie is logical to me and I need all the help I can get! Thanks for this, Debra and I appreciate the chance to win this book. I hope I do!

Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Debra Dixon said...

Hey, folks!

I had to run out to a doctor's appointment today and it ran long.

So...where to start.

Yes, GMC is a very helpful plotting book but I always recommend it with THE WRITER'S JOURNEY.

GMC will be used no matter which plotting structure is your favorite for putting a book together (W plot, plotting by the Acts, Hero's Journey, etc.)

LOL! Re: not sleeping with an unconcious woman being a looow standard. Point taken. It is a low standard, but it's also a hint of what kind of guy he might be.

Debra Dixon said...

Guys, This is awesome to hear so many writers who are using and believe in GMC.

Those of you who aren't, not to worry. You pretty much have to have GMC. You may be doing it subconsciously and not need a conscious process.

Everyone has their own method or process that "speaks" to them and helps them get words on a page.

GMC is at it's heart a TOOL. It can be used in so many ways. Writers should feel free to explore.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Haven't seen the movie. I'll fix that soon!


Missy Tippens said...

Vince, yes! It's a great way to come up with your basic external and internal goals, motivation for those goals, and the conflicts that will keep them for getting their goals. If you click on at the link at the end of the post, it'll take you to a post where I share one of my GMC charts. You can see how I used it in plotting scenes for my book. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy, thanks for stopping by!
Renee, most would recommend you study Chris Vogler's The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. I'd also suggest The Heros 2 Journeys by Chris Vogler and Michael Hauge. They cover the inner and outer journey in their work (DVDs and CDs).

Missy Tippens said...

Lisa, thanks for stopping by. You could check the Gryphon Books website and see if they mention e-books.

Missy Tippens said...

thanks for stopping by, Mary M!
Tina P, the hard part for me sometimes is figuring out what's external and what's internal. Is that what's throwing you?

One thing that Michael said recently in a workshop that was a lightbulb moment for me was that an external goal is something visible you can see in a movie. Wanting to be needed is something internal. You can't see it. Wanting to get a certain job is external. Visible.

I hope that helps some!

Missy Tippens said...

Joy, it's definitely a keeper! And I recently pulled mine off the shelf and was reminded that it's autographed! :)

Dianna Shuford said...

Wow, thanks for the great information, Deb.

Missy- I already have both of Deb's books so don't enter me for those drawings. The kindle is another story...definitely put my name in the hat for that!

Missy Tippens said...

Walt, it can get confusing. That's why i think it helps to watch the movie multiple times, charting it as you watch. And like Deb said, we might have different opinions about the steps! :) Although it would be nice if we could ask the screenwriter to tell us what he/she intended! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Barb and Nicole, thanks for coming by!

Missy Tippens said...

Gotcha, Dianna!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Judy Duarte spoke to our Christian Writers of the West (Phoenix) chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers last month, and she quoted Debra's GMC book. I'd love to read it!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

AWESOME POST! I LOVE using GMC in my books. Thank you SO much for your teaching, Deb!

Thrilled to have you in Seekerville today!


Anonymous said...

ok I'm gonna have to look this movie up..the only movie with Holiday in the title I've seen was a musical where some guy opened a club up in Vermont or somewhere and had this female singer up there performing..still thought he was a jerk for sabotaging her chance at the big-time without giving her a choice! anyways I only half paid attention since I was sewing at the same time!

@Pam - wow! I didn't think ANYONE made sweet tea like that! My mom and her dad's side of the family made it that way (my dad ended up diabetic so she stopped) and you're 100% absolutely right! 1 1/2 - 2 cups of sugar and some hot water then finish it off with regular and my dad would fuss like crazy if it wasn't made the night before or early in the day for it to get cold (though we always added ice to it)

ok I'm willing to travel up north for some homemade hot chocolate!

and ya'll gotta stop talking 'bout so many books on here! I'm trying to shrink my tbr but instead it's growing..I even got a harleqin intrigue thanks to the book being shown on here and I haven't bought many in that line ever!


Widsith said...

"The Holiday" is one of those movies that I keep coming back to as well. I find it charming, and somehow manages to invite viewers in with the promise that we, too, can overcome whatever heartbreak or broken relationship or personal hurdle we're facing at the moment.

I hadn't given the movie this much thought before, though, and I'm so glad to read this analysis of it! It's fascinating, full of little plotting gems, and to be honst I didn't want it to end. :)

Thanks so much for sharing this, Debra! I'll definitely revisit your tips when I analyze other great movies, and when I set to work on plotting my novel.


Vince said...

Hi Debra:

Is there any chance you can do a GMC workshop in St. Louis at the ACFW convention in 2011? The last guest blogger, Stanley Williams, agreed to do it when the Seekers asked him. It looks like everyone is going to be in St. Louis. : )


Vince said...

Hi Missy:

I went back and read your GMC post. I read it the first time but it is very hard to make these rules a part of my thinking without using them over and over.

Also I have a question: Do you integrate various systems in your head to come up with one master system or do you layer the different systems, one over the other, when you implement them?

I like James Scott Bell’s LOCK system and now I am trying to also use the Moral Premise. I also love the Hero’s Two Journeys. Add to this, GMC. No wonder it takes years to get a handle on the full scope of writing a novel.

I must plot a new book before NaNo starts on November first. As of now, I’ll probably select the best Moral Premise and use the LOCK system. Any ideas?


flchen1 said...

I haven't seen this movie, but would love to be entered for your LI! Thanks for a lovely post!

Renee said...

Thank you, Missy. I've heard of them, I think when I first started writing, so I'm sure there were a lot of concepts I did not understand at the time. I'll have to go back and visit them.

reneelynnscott [at]

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, we had several late visitors last night. I'm sorry I pooped out on you! I fell asleep on the couch. :) So glad you stopped by!

Vince, it usually just takes me a while because I work through several of the methods. I don't necessarily use all of every method. Just what I find most helpful. I'll be doing a post on my writing method on the 29th, so be sure to check back then. :)

Valerie Comer said...

Haven't seen the movie, but I am a fan of Debra's GMC book and would LOVE to own a copy! My brainstorming partner is getting used to me demanding the inner and outer GMC of all our characters as we bounce story ideas!

valerie at valeriecomer dot com

barbjan10 said...

Since my last comment, I have a better understanding of what Debra's GMC book is about, and I need that book!! I might have seen the movie years ago, and wonder if Netflix might have it. Think I'll check it out. Since I'm a newbie at this writing business, I can use all the help I can get. Thanks for this giveaway and the chance to win this helpful book. I hope I do win!

Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Patty said...

Donna, thanks for being here today. I know we all appreciate it!

Wow, I just watched this movie for the first time Saturday afternoon! Talk about great timing! I've got a copy so I'm going to watch it again, using your notes. I've studied tv shows and movies for years(much to my family's dismay) and one thing I've noticed is that most are pretty predictable(which I point out to my disgusted family.)

But it does make me think outside the box when it comes to my writing--what is believable but has a bit of a twist?

I'm going to start writing my thoughts on movies down--maybe then my family will watch a movie with me again. ~sigh~


Patty said...

Missy, you would love North and South! Just watched it a couple of weeks ago and Oh My! Lovely, lovely romance. If you've got Netflix, it's an instant download.

Jo said...

I haven't seen the movie so will add it to my list of movies to see.

I would love to win either book.


Martha Ramirez said...

What an awesome surprise to see you on here, Deb!! Thanks Missy for bringing her on. LOVE ur GMC book!!!!!
Now UI need to see the movie ur talking about:)

PatriciaW said...

I've never journaled a movie like that but I do find myself thinking about the story structure as I'm watching movies, usually ones that I've seen before and liked and can now look at with a critical eye.

Don't enter me for today's drawing, as I already have a copy of GMC.

Missy Tippens said...

I just did the drawing! Be sure to look for the winner this weekend when Tina announces the weeks' winners!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by yesterday.

Cindy W. said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post today. I have seen The Holiday twice and then bits and pieces probably another 20 times. I loved it. I should print out a copy and then watch the movie again. :)

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Debra Dixon said...

Vince-- I'm not sure what my schedule is. I'm trying to limit travel these days, but have some one contact me and we can check it out.

There is a link on my website to contact me!