Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why I Love Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict

We were thrilled to have Debra Dixon with us on Monday, but interestingly enough the visitors who were in Seekerville that day seemed to fall into two groups: they were either GMC guru's or those who never pondered the pages of Deb's fabulous classic:

So I decided to share with you a little bit about why I love GMC.

1. GMC is a foundational plotting book. The beautiful simplicity of it is you're able to plug not only your hero and heroine, but also every single character in your book, including the villain into the GMC chart and VOILA! you have your internal and external conflict and your log-line. Amazing.

2. GMC explains GMC in detail even I can understand.

(parenthesis phrases are my interpretation)

It begins with WHO. Your character.

Goal = What (what they want)

Motivation = Why (why they want it)

Conflict = The Why Not (what stands in their way)

From The Rancher's Reunion (Love Inspired January 2011)

Who: Will Sullivan, Oklahoma rancher.

External GMC: Will Sullivan wants to save the ranch that is his heritage but Mother Nature and a scandal threaten to destroy everything he's worked for.

Internal GMC: Will doesn't plan to ever marry because he may have another Sullivan legacy, but his love for Annie Harris stands in his way.

Log-line: A rancher must save the ranch that was left to him, while he battles with the knowledge that he can't tell the woman he loves how he feels because he may be carrying another family legacy.

There it is. See how easy?

Okay well, GMC does a much better job than I have of showing Goal, Motivation and Conflict with a detailed chapter for each topic using a universal book/movie, The Wizard of Oz to demonstrate. The back of the book utilizes a few more movie classics to demonstrate, including Ladyhawke, The Client, Star Wars, Casablanca and The Fugitive.

That's the basics, but GMC is stuffed with information on topics such as:

  • Show Don't Tell
  • The Black Moment
  • Writing Scenes
  • Basic Writing Tips
  • Query Letters
  • Turning Points
and much more

As a newbie writer (I bought this book in 1996) I starred many things in the book as light bulb moments -seriously, until this book, well, WHO KNEW?

  • "The heroine's goal in a romance novel is not to fall and love and get married."
  • "If you can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it, or smell it..that's external."
  • "Learn to deliver back story through characterization and dialogue."
  • "Motivation drives your characters."

I reread GMC yearly if not more often and every single time I go back to the book I uncover more nuggets of writing and plotting wisdom such as:

  • "...the reader is supposed to identify and empathize with your character from the moment the character makes an entrance."
  • "Urgency always pushes the plot and the pace."
  • "The first chapter must establish what's at stake..."
  • "First chapters are like a first impressions-you only get one chance. So don't blow it."

I'm barely scratching the surface of this excellent resource.

Keep in mind that Monday's post walked hand in hand with the basics of the hero's journey, which is a whole post in itself. But you can find more information by picking up Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, or Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey, or Chris Vogler and Michael Hauge's The Hero's Two Journeys.

Now if you're a GMC fan pull out your copy and share with us what pages of your copy of the book are worn and marked up.

And if you dare----share with Seekerville your Hero or Heroine's GMC. Internal and External.

If you're a clever reader, tell us the GMC of a character in a Seeker book you've read.

What's in it for you? Comment and you could win a copy of GMC. (We gave away one Monday too!!) or the Seeker release of your choice (currently available on Amazon or

Two prizes. Two winners.

Let us know if you want to be in this giveaway.

Remember your name goes into the drawing for the Kindle with any comment posted today.


Lady DragonKeeper said...

Ooh, first comment! =)

I'm not a writer like you all, but I am a Christian fiction lover!

I'll take a stab at some GMCs . . . I don't know if I'm doing this right . . .

In "Sushi for One?" by Camy Tang, Lex Sakai's GMC is to find a boyfriend in time for her cousin Mariko's wedding because her grandmother threatened to pull the funding of the girls' volleyball team she coaches but she doesn't, but Lex resents the way her grandmother's forcing her because she's been hesitant to get into a relationship or close to anyone because of an event in college.

Internal: Lex wants to find a boyfriend on her own terms, so she makes a list based on a passage in Ephesians, but the guy she's attracted to doesn't seem to fit anything on her list! What to do?

=) I was going to try Faith O'Connor from Julie Lessman's "A Passion Most Pure" but it seems a bit harder to figure out.

Thanks for the chance to win!


Julia M. Reffner said...

OK, I'm the second commenter and I live on the East Coast. How sad is that??!!

Here's my character Rachel. Taking a stab:

External GMC: Rachel desires to escape a fundamentalist cult and abusive husband because her life is threatened but the fear of leaving her children alone keep her trapped.

Internal GMC: Rachel desires to find the freedom of Christ because she has always lived life on other's terms but fear because of her legalistic background and the belief that she can never be good enough hold her back.

Not sure if I'm on the right track, but it was an interesting exercise.


Janet Dean said...

I'm with you, Tina. Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict is an excellent resource for writers! Time to read it again. Thanks for the overview.

I brought cakes and eggs. Pancakes that is. Dig in. Where's the coffee??? Helen's probably tired from celebrating her birthday.


Renee Ann said...

Okay, here's a try at writing GMC for my WIP:

External GMC: Chloe Cresswell thinks she can show Police Chief Jack Taylor how to catch the murderer who left a body on her lawn, but the killer, who is now stalking her young ward Lucy, seems to stay one step ahead of them.

Internal GMC: Chloe doesn't plan to ever marry because due to an experience from her past she feels no upright Christian man would ever want her.

I guess those sound pretty typical, but the magic is in how you talented authors flesh out the story. Thanks for sharing some of your secrets here at Seekerville!

I'd love to be entered to win a Seekerville book, and, of course, the ginormous grand prize--a kindle loaded with Seeker books!

reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Kav said...

Ooooohhhhhhhhh -- this makes it so much clearer, Tina. Thank you!!!!!!!

So I just finished reading 'Wrangler in Petticoats' by Mary Connealy and I'll give a GMC for the heroine a try:

External: Sally McClellan is determined to make the treacherous trek across rugged country to reach her pregnant sister before the birth of the baby BUT dastardly outlaws kill her traveling companions and force her over a cliff. She is badly injured and left to the mercies of an eccentric artist and his Shoshone housekeeper.

Internal: Aware that falling in love with the wrong man has made her sister miserable, Sally chooses to guard her heart so that she doesn't fall in love with the wrong man -- like a fool of an artist who thinks a 'quick draw' refers to how fast you can sketch.

Phew -- I couldn't condense it any more...and even though I knew what I wanted to say it was hard to put it into writing. This GMC requires more brain power than I have first thing in the morning!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Kav, I am so impressed. Wow and Lady Dragon Keeper. Nicely done.

YOu guys are AMAAZING.

Sorry Janito. The coffee is ON!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Ruthy's job today is to provide coffee, breakfast, snacks and possible late-day meals as needed, but let's start with coffee.

Good coffee.

Strong coffee.

Flavored coffee.

Flavored creamers.

Are ya' sensin' a trend here?

Breakfast by Ruthy includes toasted bagels, several varieties, Kosher deli lox and cream cheese, flavored cream cheese for you softies, sliced sweet onion, eggs to order, ham, sausage, (think Atkins-friendly cyber fare) O'Brien potatoes, home-made of course, the red ones with the skin on....

Oh, yum.

And fresh cheese danish for those of us who exist on sugar, caffeine and love plotting/planning books.

Most of the above is truth as we know it.

And try the caramel macchiato creamer in the pumpkin spice coffee... wonderful!

Teenster, I've got your back with food, babe. Just say the word.

Rose said...

Another interesting post on this book!

Monday, I wished that I'd either read the book or seen the movie that Debra used in her I am again with nothing to say! And according to my family THAT never happens!

So....guess I'm in for either prize giveaway.

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Tina,

Great synopsis of GMC

It really does help to outline these conflicts for the tagline and synopsis. Thanks for that.

Here is the tagline for my book PRICE OF VICTORY coming out next spring with Avalon Books.

Sterling Wade, a wealthy and successful professional cyclist is suffering from boredom and despondency, but finds the one thing he’s missing in life—a woman to love. Debra Valenz refuses to let a relationship interfere with her determination to become a professional cyclist. She believes she needs to succeed so that she can earn her father’s love.

I don't think I really get it right, but it helps to have the guidelines.

Janet the pancakes are yummy and I have Chocolate Velvet coffee for those who can't live without it. Like me. smiling.

Oh wait, here comes Ruthy with all the flavored stuff. Just so you know, she does need to be sweetened up in the morning. LOL

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Well you are all game for GMC this morning aren't you.

Nice job Renee.

Ruth, thanks for the food train, I'm off to work now. Party among yourselves.

Rose, you'll just have to read the book :)

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Yeah, Sandra. I don't ever feel like I have GMC down perfect but it certainly proves a valuable road map.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Tina, Forgot to mention, that is the first I've read about RANCHER'S REUNION. I'm so excited. It sounds wonderful and I can hardly wait to see it SOON.

Received Ruthy's MADE TO ORDER FAMILY and have already read it. Loved it. And Rita, the heroine wants to open a bakery. Are we surprised? I mean Ruthy does know the bakery business. smiling again.

Loves 2 Read Romance - Laura said...

Thanks again Debra for sharing. I haven't started writing yet but I want to and your book sounds like a great resource.

fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

KC Frantzen said...

Again with the wonderful posts. You know? I thought I knew May's GMC and I know I do but saying it succinctly, huh...

I'll be back to ya on that.

Obviously, enter me for the drawing for her book! :)

May at maythek9spy dot com

(I'd decided Monday that Debra's book was one I needed.)


CarolM said...

It's too early to try to think of GMCs. And I don't drink coffee and I have edits to finish by 10am [and birthday cupcakes to pick up and take to school for DDnow7! I'll bring some to share - they're in the shape of a candy corn ;)].

So I best get to work and try to get the brain unfuzzy enough for GMC later...

carol at carolmoncado dot com

Lori Benton said...

I've never read GMC, but at least I understand what the letters stand for now! :) I came to writing sans writing craft books for several years before I read my first, so a lot of my craft was picked up through trial and error and novel-reading/study. Sometimes another writer's methods of building plot/characters don't feel natural or organic to me. But I keep reading writing craft books anyway because now and then at least part of someone else process resonates and I can incorporate it into my own and then my own process gets a tiny bit more streamlined. Which is good, because it's long and convoluted! I'll be looking for GMC.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Had to read this, go eat a power breakfast, and then give this a shot.

Janet Dean's Courting Miss Adelaide was the first one I spotted on the keeper pile. So here goes...

Adelaide, a single woman and suffragette, wants to adopt an child off the orphan train as she has love, resources and skills to share. But the town's adoption committee believes children should go to couples and not opinionated spinsters.

Internal: Not wanting to end up like her mother, Adelaide has decided to go life alone, fearing the prospect of a loveless marriage, and struggles with keeping her new-found voice when faced with a hero who has resentments against God, a self-proclaimed inability to love, and his own reasons for seeing her fail. Not to mention the pressures of the society she lives in!

Whew! I think I burned off my applesauce pancakes and three eggs!

Put me in for either drawing.

Peace, Julie

Kirsten Arnold said...

Hi, Tina!

Another great lesson in Seekerville. I missed Monday's post. I'll have to go back and review it later. It sounds like a good one.

Here's my stab at today's homework. :o) This is from a wip I just started last week.

Who: Cooper Maitland: Alaskan outfitter/hunting guide

External GMC: Cooper wants to help the FBI catch drug traffickers operating as Alaskan fishermen, and save Bryce Wallace the kid brother of McAye Wallace the woman Cooper loves.

Internal GMC: Cooper wants to forgive himself and accept God’s forgiveness for the terrible mistake he made that cost McAye’s sister her life. His love for McAye stands in the way, because it serves as a constant reminder of his past and keeps him mired in guilt.

Log Line: A rugged Alaskan hunting guide must save the younger brother of the woman he loves while learning to accept the forgiveness that can set him free and open the door to love and life.

Don't enter me in today's contest. I just wanted to play.


Julie Lessman said...

WOW, TINA ... GMC for Dummies ... JUST what I needed!!!

Seriously, I think you may have convinced me to buy this book because "simple" is very appealing to me, and you made this simple -- THANK YOU!!


Cindy said...

I would love another chance to win GMC. Please enter me in the drawing.


Missy Tippens said...

Y'all have done such a great job on the GMC's!! I'm so impressed. Man, I wish I could hire you to listen to me talk about my books and have you tell me what my GMC is. It would save me a lot of time and angst. :)

Tina, thanks for a great post on GMC!

Digging for Pearls said...

Haven't read the book. In fact I never heard of it until the post earlier this week. Sounds quite interesting though. Sure would love the opportunity to win it. :)

Jodie Wolfe

Missy Tippens said...

I'll try to come back later and share a GMC chart. Have to run now!

Renee said...

Wow, I'm impressed. Writing out GMC isn't easy. I spend hours, sometimes days, obsessing over loglines, and I still have difficulty with the wording. It seems I either put too many words into them or not enough.

Here is what I came up with using this post for my ancient biblical romance.

The only child of a prosperous farmer must marry in order to safeguard her family's legacy, and with a crippling disfigurement finding a husband who is willing to give her the respect her position deserves is near impossible. Finding one who is willing to give her his heart may be too much to hope for.

Renee said...

Of course, I forgot to leave my email addy. I'd love to get my hands on Debra Dixon's book.

reneelynnscott [at] gmail [dot] com

Charlotte Kay said...

I am an avid reader, not a writer, so please enter me in the giveaway for the Seeker release only:)
There are a lot of authors out there who are interested in the GMC.
Wow, I'm even more impressed than ever of the work and diligence that you authors have to create a good read for us! God bless you supremely!
charsaltz at yahoo dot com

Rebekah E. said...

That sounds like it really explains alot.

Project Journal said...

Okay, can I just preface by saying that Renee C. is DEFINITELY losing her touch *BIG wink*

Anyway, I will be back to peruse and study this post much more in depth, but for now I wanted to swing by quickly to tell you some BIG exciting news!! I had my first college exam EVER last Thursday (isn't that crazy! We're halfway through the semester and it was my first test...interesting...). Anyway, we got the tests back today....guess who got a 92!!!!!???? MEEEEEEEEE *grin* I was excited! Lol....My mid-term grade for that class (Psychology) is a B+ (89 I think?)....I'm very pleased with that. Especially considering that fact that in college they believe you getting a C is good because it's "average" well I don't want to get average! This is much better....

Just had to share with you guys!!!
Be back later,

Melanie Dickerson said...

I use the GMC principle with all my books and characters. It's a great reminder/guideline to help flesh out your characters and make them real. It also will help you keep the conflict and excitement going throughout the novel. It's one of those "common sense" guidelines, which is why I love it. I often need to be reminded of "common sense" principles, in all phases of my life!

Pam Hillman said...

I love this book.

Love it.

My copy isn't marked up because I have a hard time writing in books or turning the pages down, or even highlighting, for goodness sakes. Just can't bring myself to do it.

But I need to do this in my writing books, don't I? I'll try to overcome my phobia of writing / highlighting in books.

Deep breath...this is going to be so hard.

But, here's another question for y'all...

Who's copy of GMC is SIGNED by Deb????


Anonymous said...

eeks worked all night and kinda early but I'll give it a try(feels like I'm back in college LOL!) kinda takes the fun outta reading ya know?!

let's see..I've only read maybe 4 Seeker authors and Sushi for One was actually one but I can't remember the character's names! I'm bad with names...

ok, Winter's End by Ruth ,

the heroine

Goal = What (what they want)-she wants a home/garden and to be warm

Motivation = Why (why they want it) she's never had a home/stability and remembers too well being cold as a child

Conflict = The Why Not (what stands in their way) let's, $, her job as a hospice nurse, infatuation with an irritating moody hunk of cowboy who can't make up his mind if she's the object of his anger or Miss Wonderful. internal: her fear of not being normal due to trauma in her childhood..actually all these books have a bunch of stuff going on at the same time with both hero and heroine..and have some kleenex handy too.

the hero:
Goal = What (what they want)I'm kinda tired and can't remember really what this sucker wants and I don't think he does either! well actually his dad is dying and he's in denial and I think he just wants the ranch to go on the way it's been going and his dad to live and his sister to turn out ok.later he wants Kayla(heroine)

Motivation = Why (why they want it)he can't accept his dad dying and he can't accept failure I guess (who knows with men and this dude was pretty darned moody!) and he falls for Kayla(geez I sure hope I got her name right!)

Conflict = The Why Not (what stands in their way)he can't get past his flighty mother ditching him and his dad and sister and associates the heroine's goofy shoes as proof she's flighty and worthless like his mother (yeah a real winner here and poor Kayla fell for him just like I wouldn've done..sigh) for some reason this dude can't completely reconcile that the woman can wear impractical shoes in the winter INSIDE the house and not be a flighty fashionista(she actually buys her designer stuff very cheap like it's any of this guy's business..I actually pity this poor woman doing a budget with this sucker when they're married but the series ended darn it so guess I'll never know if she whipped some sense into him or not!) also once Kayla tells him of her trauma from her childhood so then he's afraid he can't deal with that in a wife then feels guilty thinking that way.(poor sucker just can't figure out that L-O-V-E messes with logic!)

whew! think I got it but might've missed something and for thelife ofme can't remember the hero's name :-( but he had to be all that and a bag of peanuts for the heroine to put up with his moody you-know-what for half the book! but really I loved this book and was so happy at the end when this sucker finally came around LOL! He was such a sweetie and I cried again but happy that time..I think I need a box of kleenex for the drawing...

I don't even remember what the drawing is this round but I'm a reader so anything to do with reading vs writing is okey dokey by me! :-)

oh and I think I'll have a plain bagel toasted crunchy just short of burned with scrambled eggs and green onion(cooked in butter)! I brought some cream filled chocolate donuts (no calories right?)and hot tea


Erica Vetsch said...

Love, love, love this book! Debra broke down into easy bites exactly what a story should be about!

I don't mark in my books. Maybe stick a post-it note in from time to time, but never actually write in one. It must be the librarian in me.

I do love on page 20-21 where Debra says you can't go wrong with urgency. Setting a time-clock going or making the story a race between good and bad...that always ups the tension.

ericavetsch at gmail dot com

Linnette R Mullin said...

Beth Gallagher in Finding Beth
by Linnette R Mullin
(still under construction)

Goal: Find out God's will concerning her relationship with her fiance`. Is he really the one for her?

Motivation: Fear of becoming trapped in a bad marraige.

Internal Conflict: Learning discernment after two years of bad decision making and overcoming her fears in order to follow God's will no matter the cost.

External Conflict: A verbally abusive fiance` threatens to become physically abusive.

Did I do that right? I've never read the GMC, but you have my interest peeked. I'm not normally a textbook type writer. I have very few writer's manuals and I rarely use the ones I have. But this one looks like it might truly be helpful


lr. mullin at live. com

Glynna Kaye said...

Thanks, Tina, for clarifying GMC for those who may not have been familiar with the concept outlined in Deb Dixon's classic book! Like you, I periodically reread it and glean a little something new each time.

Glynna Kaye said...

HANNAH! Congratulations on that stellar first exam result! You're off to a magnificent start!!

Holly said...

I wish I was awake enough to take a stab at a GMC, but I'm impressed with all who have, especially from their own work.


Nicole Zoltack said...

Goal, motivation, conflict - the building blocks to any freat story. Great post!


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...


"If you can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it, or smell it..that's external."

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Ack I feel like I'm back in college again! Seekerville is giving me an assignemnt! Since Wrangler in Petticoats was the last Seeker book I read and Kav already picked that one I guess I'll have to read another before I can take a stab at a GMC. I'll be baaack! ;-)

XOXO~ Renee

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Now put that in a pitch line Susanna. Dare ya.

We are drawing for the GMC book, a Seeker BOC and then as always the Kindle.

Mary Connealy said...

Goal Motivation Conflict.


Sally McClellen's goal is to reach her sister's house before her baby is born.

Wait that's her goal AND her motivation.

Her conflict is ... she got shot and fell over a cliff and broke her leg and rescued by an artist and taken to his remote cabin and the bad guys who shot her want her dead because she's a witness to their crime, so she can't go anywhere because mainly her leg hurts, but also because they're fairly well hidden where they are but if they come out of hiding, they will face killers.

And meanwhile Mandy's time to give birth draws nearer and she is in danger and abandoned by her worthless husband so Sally doesn't know that, but she knows she feels a pressing urgency to get to her sister.
Is that too long of a conflict.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Nicole I love FREAT stories too.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Julie!!! Excellent job. Janet, did you see that?

Well done.

Walt M said...

For a copy of GMC, I'm there.

Though I do wonder about my heroine right now. Her goal is to get married to bring someone in to support her family. She just doesn't want the hero.


Mary Connealy said...

I think of internal and external conflict this way.

Internal conflict is CHARACTER. It has all to do with what formed you, what drives you, who you are.

External conflict is PLOT. Story.


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

WOW Kirsten, awesom log line!!!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Well Walt, that cracked me. "She just doesn't want the hero." He sounds like a large conflict.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Okay, Mary is the queeen of GMC.

Thank goodness the calvary is here.

Casey said...

I know, I know, I know, I reallllly need to get this book. I just need to knuckle down and visit the author's website and buy a copy, in fact that is probably what I will do sometime this fall, probably after I get back from my workshop classes this weekend.

Tina, you sold me. Thanks for advocating for this book. :)


Casey said...

OK, I can't let Renee get away with doing a Seeker book and not me. So I take Julie's A Hope Undaunted, hopefully someone else hasn't already. :)

Katie's Goal (or one of them:) To HATE Cluny!

Motivation: He can be brass, sharp tongued and a tease that Katie just sees as annoying.

Conflict: is that Cluny (Luke) has a multitude of good sides, sides Katie is starting to see more of and fall in love with. So then comes the fateful question:

When does the man she loves to hate, becomes the man she hates to love?

Project Journal said...

Thanks Glynna!! Yeah, I was really pleased : )

PatriciaW said...

It's such a short book that I see why you reread it every year. I have to uncover my copy.

My character Jada's external conflict is that family and church obligations always seem to trump her own dreams/desires. Her internal conflict is that she thinks being a pastor's daughter has tarnished her with regard to finding her soul mate.

Kirsten Arnold said...

Thanks, Tina! After my second cup of coffee it came together.


Casey said...

YAY! Way to go Hannah!!!! :D

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Tina, you explain GMC so well! For years I have used GMC as a plotting method and also to get to know my characters.

Thanks for breaking it down for us!


Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thanks for the summary Tina.

It seems like Debra's book is full of useful tips/reminders about writing.

Please add me to the drawing for her book.

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

Here is my GMC for Love on a Dime, by Cara Lynn James.

Heroine: Lilly Westbrook


External: Raise Money by writing dime novels for the Christian Settlement House to help poor in NYC adjust to life in America

Internal: Marry her one and only true love, Jackson Grail.


External: The strong need for money the charity faces and the good work that charity performs

Internal: the desire for having a happy marriage and life that comes from marrying for love and not just convenience.


External: Blackmailer is threatening to reveal her as the dime novelist “Fanny Cole” which will ruin her social standing and damage her family and probably end her engagement to a very rich man.

Internal: Hurt and distrust over hero’s failure to ask her father for permission to marry her as he promised to do and the hero’s subsequent abandonment for years while he was off finding his fortune in the Alaskan gold rush.

BTW: “Love on a Dime” is very interesting from a writer’s POV. I actually bought an actual dime novel, printed in 1887 (about the same time as “Love on a Dime” takes place). It is the size of today's trade paperbacks and has 250 pages. Title: Edna’s Vow and it’s by Charlotte Stanley, and published by Westbrook – which is also the name of the heroine of “Love on a Dime” . While the style is archaic, (I’ll post a sample in my review on my website) it is very well written and had me hooked after just a few pages. The book is cheaply printed but the copy is very clean and free of typos. I’m sure Charlotte worked every bit as hard on this romance as any author does today -- and I’m not sure she had any ‘how to’ books! Wouldn’t it be something if she has everything in the book: GMC, Moral Premise, LOCK? What would that tell us? : ) Now, that would be some review!


vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Project Journal said...

Thanks Casey!!

: D

Myra Johnson said...

Perfect breakdown and explanation of GMC, Tina! I still say this book is a must-have for every writer!

Once I can verbalize both my hero's and heroine's internal and external GMCs, I'm usually itching to start writing. That's plenty of "plotting" for this pantser. Knowing what each character wants, why he/she wants it, and why he/she can't have it opens the door to all kinds of conflict and scene possibilities.

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

If you’re one of the multitude who cannot wait for the release of “The Rancher’s Reunion” , please be sure to attend the virtual World Wide “Rancher’s Reunion” Watch Party at 11:00 pm CST, on November 30th. It’s just 40 days away!

Tagline: December First -- The Day the World Downloads!

Goal: Beat “Harry Potter’s” turnout!

BTW: Tina does her best work under pressure.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, look at the time, how does the day get away from me like this???


How's the food situation?

I just made cookies, sugar cookies, homemade butter icing and fall sprinkles. Dig in, grab some, munch away, it's almost the weekend and I KNOW how much TEEEEENA likes the weekend.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Crap, Susanna just made me want to go and BUY MY OWN STINKIN' BOOK....




Ruth Logan Herne said...

My goal is lunch:

My motivation:


My conflict?

Lack of food.

Ergo I create cyber food for y'all because you can't have a big ol' honkin' party like this to celebrate how cool Deb Dixon and TEEEENA both are, without great food.

We're doing Chinese take-out for lunch because it's affordable, a crowd pleaser and relatively inexpensive on my tight budget.

Buffet is set up to the left and includes traditional sweet-and-sour American Chinese favorites and some Szechuan spiced grab the water or green tea quick house specialties.

The Szechuan shrimp and scallop is to die for, but our Happy Family is actually named after the Seeker's Happy Sisterhood.

Very 3 Musketeers.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Vince, I just lost a keyboard.

Spew alerts.

Spew alerts.

Remember the rules!!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Well done VINCE!! Your GMC on Love on a Dime is spot on!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hannah, SWEET!!!!

So proud of you, girlfriend! Here are some extra cookies and a big plate of sweet and sour chicken.

I'm having cashew chicken myself.

Toasting our college girls' continued success, all o' youse!!!

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

Your post made me realize that something is vitally needed for new writers about to start a new WIP. (I’m doing this right now for NaNo).

”How-to PREP”

This would be a book that puts the key ‘how to” write books in order of context.

For example:

(1) Read or review a book on “Brainstorming”. Then brainstorm story ideas.

(2) Watch the “Hero’s Two Journeys” video.

(3) Read or review, “The Moral Premise”
Come up with a strong Moral Premise.

(4) Read or review: “Plot & Structure”, James Scott Bell. Make a plot outline with key choke points.

(5) Come up with a strong L-O-C-K.

(6) Read or review: "GMC” .
Create your GMC forms.

(6) Load Myra’s Excel Character Spreadsheets and fill them out.

(7) Write first draft.

(8) Read a “Checklist Book” Like, “Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance”, and layer in added requirements.

(9) Read book on editing like, Revision And Self-Editing, James Scott Bell

(10) ready for submission to editor.

I’d love to see a book or a Seeker Post that shows me how to best use all the books and writing aids I already have. What do you think?


Renee said...

Vince, that is an awesome list! I love the L.O.C.K system. I haven't written it for my romantic suspense. I'm an index card kind-of-girl and I just filled out thirty-one cards so it's pretty much plotted. I need to work on the initial GMC for my heroine, I know my hero's. I'm so pumped about writing this story that I really don't want to wait until November 1st. Oh, well, I have another manuscript that needs revising, two actually.

Vince, and anyone else doing NaNo feel free to buddy me so we can cheer each other on. My username is Renee Lynn Scott.

Patsy said...

I'm a reader not a writer but this book seems like it has great information. Who knows, I could be a writer one day, (dreaming!) since you have to read before you can write! And yes, I want to be included in this drawing. I recently read Made to Order Family by Ruth Logan Herne.I'll try a stab at her main character.

External GMC: Rita wants an escape from her past of bad choices. Of dealing with a bad husband and of her drinking problem. She desires to one day open her own bakery.

Internal: Rita desires to be free from guilt of her past mistakes by sometimes being very strick on herself. She desires to be the best mother she can be.Seeking freedom from her past seems to be her greatest hope.

Not sure if this is the way GMC would have it, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway.

Carrie Turansky said...

I love Debra's GMC ideas. They are simple and easy to follow. I loved reading her thoughts on the movie the Holiday. Great illustrations of GMC and the hero's journey.
carrie (at) turansky (dot) com

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Well then since Miss Casey took the OTHER book that I was going to try to do this GMC thing with I'll go with a book I read earlier this month, The Husband Tree. I am TERRIBLE at doing stuff like this so Mary if I totally butcher your character pleeeease forgive me!

Belle Tanner from The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy

External: Belle wants to raise her girls and get her cattle to market to keep her ranch running without any help (ie. a husband).

Internal: Belle isn't looking for a husband but must accept that she can't do it on her own and therefore acknowledges that maybe men aren't so bad and begrudgingly learns to respect Silas Harden.

I know there is A LOT more to Belle and the story but this was all I could come up I said I am AWFUL at stuff like this.

XOXO~ Renee

Leigh said...

I've heard lots about GMC, but don't have the book. I do try to map out those things for my main characters but know I could learn a lot more from the book. :-)

Here's the rundown for my current WIP for middle school girls.

Main character: Paige Dixon, a sheltered 7th grader who has to transfer from private to public school when Dad loses his job.

Beginning goal: Go to the new school because she has no choice, but keep everything else in her life exactly the same.

Motivation: She’s surrounded by change (school, friends, Dad’s job situation), so wants to keep whatever bits of her “old life” in place that she thinks she can control.

External conflict: Everything is changing despite how hard she fights it – some kids at the new school actually try to be friends, another one picks on/bullies her, her lifelong best friend has a new BFF, her grandfather’s sudden death rocks her world even more.

Internal conflict: Feeling disloyal to old friends over possibly making new friends, especially since she’s been so outspoken about things; dealing with losing her lifelong BFF; grieving over her grandfather’s death and reconciling some things he taught her.

Ending goal: To be ‘salt’ where God has placed her and to build real friendships, not just surface-level ones like she’s always had.

It's ever evolving, but that's what I have at the moment. Did I earn a spot in the drawing? :-)

leighdelozier at bellsouth dot net

Widsith said...

Tina, what a great exercise! Well explained and very helpful, thank you! :)

I have't read Seekerville books yet, so I'm giving the GMC thing a shot with my own somewhat undeveloped story.

Oh boy, I hope I did this right:

External GMC: College girl, Claire, is alarmed to watch her family fall apart and goes in search of help for her Dad, who's losing his life to a terminal illness, and her Mom, who's suffering a breakdown in the dual role of caregiver and sole bread-winner. But opposition from their congregation, apathy from social program workers, and financial disaster may force a painful, lonely, and premature end to Claire's precious family.

Internal GMC: Claire's dreams have always involved close-knit families--her church family, her parents, and the family she'll have with her future husband. But betrayal by her pastor as well as a cheating ex-boyfriend have destroyed her trust in everyone, including strangers such as James, a fellow student who seems undaunted by her disillusioned spirit.

Log-line: A college girl fights to save her parents, while she also fights feelings for a man who'd like to win her trust and ignite her vision of their future family and reignite her love for God's family too.

I'd love to be entered in the draws. Thank you!

@Julia: Your novel sounds excellent! I'd love to read it when it's published! :)

Widsith said...

Leigh, your novel sounds good too! When's it coming out? :D

Renee, I'm on NaNo too. I'll look for you there! Also, what category will you be writing for?

Casey said...

LOL Renee, I thought that might be the one you were going for. Sorry! ;-)


Maybe. *grin*

CarolM said...

So I'm gonna sound like a total newbie...

But where are Myra's character sheets located?

Yeah yeah yeah. I brought cupcakes so be nice ;). And they didn't have the candy corn cupcake cake they were supposed to have - they had cupcakes with candy corn on them [as the eyes/nose of jack o lanterns] so I got them half price! But here - have jack o lantern cupcakes and then tell me where Myra's downloads are ;).

I think I already entered in this contest, but in case I didn't...

carol at carolmoncado dot com

Helen Gray said...

So glad Ruthy took care of the coffee. She always extends the menu in a way that I can't.

I've been meaning to get GMC for some time, but just haven't done it. I'm sure it would help me.

You would have to throw this out there when I'm struggling with my new project. My heroine is pretty clear, but the hero just isn't talking to me the way he should.

The heroine's focused on her job and taking care of her mother who is in the nursing home, in a coma from an accident. She has issues from a difficult background--grew up poor and feeling looked down on.
Finding the body of a local businessman MOTIVATES her to solve the murder before ending up dead herself, because the killer thinks she is a witness.

The hero's GOAL is to take care of his mother, who is facing more surgeries from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, and help his dad with the family business. He has taken a couple weeks of family medical leave and returned to the home town to do this.

CONFLICT occurs when he encounters the heroine, a childhood schoolmate and bothersome memory, while heping with his parents' business.

I need more conflict. This is in beginning stages, and I would welcome any help/suggestions anyone would care to throw out there.


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Seekers are very good brain stormers Helen.

Give them a minute.

What stands between the hero and his goal??

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Vince what's

(5) Come up with a strong L-O-C-K.

And I think you should write a post on how to use all your writing books. Sounds like a two parter to me.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Leigh, I'm still mulling yours..but you still get a place in the drawing for sure.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Thanks for the cupcakes Carol.

Myra, tell her where your handouts are dear.

Helen Gray said...


His parents may have to sell the business or turn it over to him. Does he really want to live back in the hometown and give up his job in St. Louis, where he's a police lieutenant?

Also, there are unresolved emotions between him and the heroine.

Is that enough?


Myra Johnson said...

My handy-dandy Excel Novel Planning Workbook can be downloaded here

Renee said...

Wow, Myra, this is awesome! Thank you!!!!

Renee said...

Widsith, I'll be trying my hand at Inspirational romantic suspense.

CarolM said...

Thank you Myra!

And now to add to my newbieness...

What is LOCK?

[and where is a good place to buy GMC?]

Leigh said...

Widsith - Thanks! It'll come out ... someday when it's written and someone's willing to publish it. :-)

Tina - Mull away, you professional brainstormer. There are other goals/issues/conflict that come into play, but I didn't think I should blab on about every little thing. Suggestions are always appreciated!


Eva Maria Hamilton said...

you're on to something - loved the list.

Tina Pinson said...

From my upcoming release, (Dec 2010) Touched By Mercy

Goal Sam plans to move west to open a boardinghouse as a stopover for the orphan trains.

Motivation-- a desire to escape an abusive past and find her missing daughter, Angelina.

Deeper motivation -- to work for the Lord so he'll find her worthy somehow.

Conflict -- her past rises up to meet her. Things go awry from the onset of her journey. And no matter how much she does for the Lord, she never feels like she'll be acceptable to him.

Renee said...

Carol, L.O.C.K. comes from James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure. It's a simple system. That will work awesomely with Dixon's GMC, like Vince suggested.

Confrontation (I say conflict)


My lead is Cecily Wallace.
Her objective is to testify in a high publicity trial. Her confrontation comes when a dark secret becomes exposed. Her knockout is when she overcomes the guilt of her past and accepts its role to help others in similar situations.

Now this is on the fly, so it needs tightening.

Logline: Cecily Wallace must testify in a high publicity trial, but when her own dark secret faces exposure and threatens her new found relationship with her high school sweet heart, can she step on the stand or will she allow the man her boyfriend arrested to walk away?

CarolM said...

Thanks Renee :). I've got that one but it's still on the shelf... Just got it recently :).

Renee said...

Carol, it's the one book I go to over and over again.

Tina Pinson said...

From my book In the Manor of the Ghost

Goal -- Kaitlyn travels to Minnesota to work as a teacher, but is offered the chance to be a mother for Derrick Clayborne through a marriage of convenience with the boy's father, Devlin.
The home she moves into. Clayborne manor is a dark, forboding place.
almost as dark as the man she married. She wants uncover the secrets of the manor.

Motivation -- a desire for family. A desire to see the people who reside in the manor, her new husband Devlin Clayborne included,freed from the darkness and sorrow of the past with the help of God and love.

Conflict -- the secrets and scars of the Clayborne family run deep. Devlin is like a shadow in his own home. He seems callous and wants nothing to do with God or Kaitlyn. Derrick will not talk, the staff harbors secrets and there seems to be a resident ghost.

Audra Harders said...

Deb Dixon's GMC, a timeless resource. I've reviewed my copy so often, just about all the text is highlighted.


How can you write a book with knowing the GMC? Most necessary roadmap.

I love all the examples I've read!

Janet Kerr said...

This is a wonderful post. I have not read Debra Dixon's book. Please enter me in the draw.

Debby Giusti said...

Love reading the GMC for the various books! So good. All the Seeker friends need to be published!!! :)

Deb Dixson came to my GA Romance Writers chapter years ago. I'm not sure if her book was out yet. I was blown away. A newbie, I still had a lot to learn and had a number of light bulb experieces, like Tina mentioned.

Love the way Deb Dixon thinks. She understands story and is able to teach the concepts that come naturally to her.

Anonymous said...

Tina, what's a pitch line?! Hey I might be up for a dare since I STILL haven't gotten any decent snoozing today and have to work night shift with an icky shift :-( and feel a little feisty and daring (aka as stupid and vulnerable so keep me away from walmart, the mall, food buffets, and slick salesmen...)

hey Ruth sold you on your own work of genius huh?! I LOVED that book..all 3 actually. I remember thinking as I read it that if it had been a Harlequin Blaze the 2 o them would've had each other's clothes off by chapter 2 and going at it with all that tension! and boy did I LUV the ending when that macho guy went all sappy with just what she wanted and the final lines..sigh..still want more stories with these characters darn it.

Myra Johnson said...

Here's where to order Debra Dixon's GMC book:

Mary Connealy said...

You've been doing hard work on Seekerville today. I can't look away for a MINUTE and I miss something.

I think you've got a good handle on Belle Tanner, Steeler Girl.

Let me think how I'd put it.

Goal...external...get her cattle to market

Motivation...external...she miscounted her herd and they will overgraze her land and maybe even starve if she doesn't get them to market, and winter is coming soon.

Conflict...external...she needs cowhands. She can't do it on her own, and Belle can do ANYTHING on her it's galling to admit she needs help. But Belle is a realist and does what has to be done. But she's seriously down on men and doesn't want any around. But there's no escape from the one and only cowhand she can find.

And darn it, she can't help liking him...I think this goes to internal conflict.

CarolM said...


Thank you Myra!

Everywhere I looked it was like 60 bucks resale... Minimum.

As wonderful as I'm sure it is, I can't swing that :).

I'm understanding more and more why Seekers rock ;).

Anonymous said...

ooh which book has Belle and the cattle drive? that one sounds good! esp the 'down on men' part LOL!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Susanna, you would love Mary's The Husband Tree, Belle's book.

I'm pretty sure Belle was based on me. Or TEEEEENA. One way or another, she's tough as nails but a.... pushover.... (of sorts) for Silas.

Oh my stars, what a delightfully well-woven book that is!

And just because you bragged on all three of the NORTH COUNTRY books, doesn't mean I'm sendin' you more money, woman.

And you crack me up with the Blaze reference! Oh mylanta, that's a hoot and a half.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Patsy, you did great on Made to Order Family!!!!

Thanks for pitchin' it for me, girlfriend! :)

Laughing and patting myself humbly on the back in upstate NY.

Poor Rita. I love the back cover copy on that book and when I told Melissa that, she told me Joan wrote it because it was needed and Melissa was gone so Joan stepped in.

"A mess of trouble..."

Just LOVE IT!!!!!

So yes, Rita had her demons, physical with the alcohol and mental with self-doubt and depression (sounds uplifting and light, doesn't it?????)

And the external... Brooks' is a loner, one-of-a-kind, no ties to family, no past he speaks of, a solitary unit and she's got 3 kids who shouldn't have had to deal with ANY of the stuff they've had handed to them.

I'm really bad at this.

Actually, Patsy, you said it better. I owe you.

Wanna slightly fuzzy mint with a torn wrapper from the bottom of my purse????

Cindy W. said...

GMC sounds like a great book. One that would be a great tool to have around. I would love to be entered to win a copy.

Cindy W.


Dianna Shuford said...

Tina, you're not alone. I love Deb Dixon's GMC too! It has become essential to me in my early stages of planning my stories out.

I already have GMC, but I'm always up for another great story to read.


Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

@ Mary- Whew glad I wasn't too off the mark there with Belle! ;-) I see I missed a few parts but you all will cut me some slack right since this was the first time for me doing anything like this?

XOXO~ Renee

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Susanna...a log line or pitch line is for when you are standing in an elevator and the agent of your dreams says..Hi. Tell me about your book.

And you give them a one sentence pitch that sums up the story and GMC.

Anonymous said...

oh ok thanks Tina.. I 'might' could get all that in once sentence esp in an elevator(not like I just hiked my 200 lbs up 2 flights of stairs or across the wal-mart parking lot) ;-)

nope don't need any money Ruth..well I guess we all could use money so dont' wanna jinx myself..but just waiting for the next books to hurry up and come out! :-)


Maria Zannini said...

I've heard so much about this book and now you have me REALLY wanting it.

Enter me, pretty please. Thanks!

Mary Connealy said...

Renee (SteelerGirl) I didn't notice you missing anything. It's probably me just talking too much as usual. So consider your slacks cut. (wow, suddenly this is a lesson on hemming up pants....)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey Vince, Thanks for the heads up on Tina's

World Wide “Rancher’s Reunion” Watch Party at 11:00 pm CST, on November 30th. It’s just 40 days away!

Sounds like fun.

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I’m not sure what a spew alert is. Is it:

a. a post that is too long
b. a rant
c. a spoiler for a novel’s ending
d. a facetious comment
e. a comment that by its very nature is impossible to tell if it is serious or not
f. something to do with virtual food (which I don’t understand either)
g. none of the above

Lost in Tulsa


39 Days and Counting!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...


A spew is when someone says something so outrageous it causes a stream of beverage to spew forth from one's mouth (sometimes nose too) as they are shocked and surprised.

The problem with spews is they ruin keyboards.

Thus we require a spew alert.

Vince said...

Everyone Who Asked:


This is from James Scott Bell’s plotting book. I saw him give a two hour workshop on this without notes and without any visual aids and he was fantastic. He had the audience spellbound.

L is for leads. Develop very strong lead characters for your story.

O is for objectives. Develop very strong objectives. This is more general than the word ‘goals’. At least it made more sense than goals when Bell gave examples.

C is for Confrontation …like Renee I also always think of this as conflict but Bell might say that the word ‘confrontation’ may include addition situations. He also gave examples.

K is for Knock Out. The writer should plan early on to have a Knock Out, stand up and cheer, ending that will sell your next book. This is my favorite part. In my WIP, “Characters in a Romance” I wrote a KO ending first. Then I made the book lead up to that ending. (This actually required a little ‘pantstering’ to make it work.)

If you have a great ending already written, it is a great motivation to finish the book.


Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I just loved “Love on a Dime” and I have a short review up now on eHarlequin. I’m writing a longer review right now and loving it more.


Vince said...

Hi Tina:

Thanks for the heads-up on spew alerts.

I had no idea. I thought that the writer was the one doing the spewing and I could not make any sense of your keyboard remarks.

Sometimes I feel like a stranger in a strange land. But I’ll keep trying.


flchen1 said...

Wow, I haven't read Debra's book or thought of characters in such detail before! What a terrific way to boil down a character and his/her motivations!

Linda Cacaci said...

This looks like such a wonderful book to be on my writer's bookshelf. Please enter me in the drawing.
Linda Cacaci

Anonymous said...

Okay, I shall give this a try:
External Goal: MY heroine strives to please her abusive, horse-thieving husband so his behavior will change.
Motivation: she's being beaten, verbally and emotionally abused (survival). but she is committed to the marriage forever
Conflict. Her husband becomes more and more distant and cruel, and she is isolated on a ranch with no options.

Internal Goal: She wants to be loved by someone kind.
Motivation: She remembers her parents' good relationship and lost them in a fire...she wants her marriage to be like theirs.
Conflict: How can it ever be, when her husband leaves often, gives her far too much heavy work to do, and hits her when he's home?

Hero: External... he wants to do his best fighting for the "right" as a post-Civil War cavalryman in the Southwest.

Motivation: He's loyal, a farm boy raised to do his duty.
Conflict: he doesn't really like fighting, was raised not to fight, yet he doesn't want to go back to farming after the war, either.

Internal. Goal..he longs to settle down, love someone and be loved in return.
He's 32, thought he was too shy and bumbling to ever marry, but has met the heroine while searching for her husband...and can't get her out of his mind.

Conflict: Heroine is married, yet he has intense feelings of wanting to help her that grow into romantic feelings. He's a Christian, so how can they ever be together?

Wow....that felt good! Thank you for the opportunity, dear Seekerville people! And yes I would LOVE to be in the drawing. And of course, Iwould appreciate any comments on my GMC. Tear it apart, if you see it needs it!

Again, thank you SOOOOOO much for being here. Your articles and tasty treats encourage me a LOT.
I have learned so much from you all, and wish I knew you in person.

Gail Kittleson

Lori Benton said...

Ack. I forgot to say yesterday I'd love to be entered to win a copy of GMC. Hope it's not too late.

lori_benton26 at hotmail dot com

n2france said...

Wow. You've provided some great information. I think I'll practice some story lines using this. Thanks for sharing the info!