In writers’ circles, the term GMC stands for Goals, Motivation, and Conflict. The term was coined (or at least made popular) by author and speaker Debra Dixon.
In a nutshell, the author needs to know what the character wants (goal), why it matters to him or her (motivation) and what stands in the way of achieving that goal (conflict). It’s useful to know this for each major character for both their internal and external goals. Because, face it, if nothing is keeping the magic genie from granting their wish, there’s no story!
The concept of GMC can help a writer determine whether they’ve got the makings of a plot or not. If you can fill in the blanks of this sentence, and have it make sense to someone other than yourself, you’ve got a good start.
Ready? Here we go:
(Character’s Name) needs (something) because (something in their past) but (something stands in their way).
Here’s one of mine, for my upcoming novella, Topaz Treasure. This is the simple GMC sentence for the novella’s hero, Kirk.
Kirk wants to help his brother get his new business off the ground by helping with the advertising because because his brother’s wife recently died and his brother is depressed but his brother reneges on Kirk’s promise to sponsor the geocaching event.
Something else about GMCs, particularly in romance writing, is that the main characters’ goals need to clash. So pit Kirk’s GMC against Lyssa’s:
Lyssa wants to run the best geocaching event ever because her roommate challenged her to publicly align herself with the church but she has to face a donor business that has pulled sponsorship.
These sentences were in place before I started writing and, coupled with the internal GMC sentences (which included more about their spiritual journey), provided several points of conflict between the characters from the get-go. Note that in a romance, the goal is never to find the love of their life! They must have an over-riding goal as well.
Give it a try! If you’ve got a GMC sentence for one of your stories, why don’t you post it in comments?