Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Character Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts

I've been playing around with a story in my head and I just can't get it to seem reasonable, or exciting. My brainstorming sessions with only myself seem to run in the same direction. My heroines seem to have similar backgrounds, baggage, and reasons for being in peril. So, is the wrong?

It can be, if the immediate goal is not worthy of drawing in the reader and making them care about the heroine or hero.

Goals, motivation and conflict are essential to writing a story that will sell. First comes goals, both external and internal. I'm very good at pinpointing internal goals. It's the external goals that seem to be less enticing. When that happens, the story is doomed. That larger than life external goal will move your character through the story and the subplots will come from that movement.

However, all six things need to be in place. Both external and internal goals, motivations and conflict. Anayzing my book Joshua's Hope the GMC looks like this:

Hope's External Goal: To gain custody of her stepson
Hope's Motivation: He's in danger
Hope's Conflict: Finding an attorney to represent her

Hope's Internal Goal: She wants to redeem herself
Hope's Motivation: She shouldn't have put her own needs ahead of her stepson by divorcing her husband.
Hope's Conflict: Guilt

Hope realizes Joshua is in danger, but since she's not his biological mother, no attorney will represent her. Danger makes the goal immediate. If she doesn't do something, her stepson will suffer the consequences. She feels guilty for saving herself without thinking of what might happen to the little boy she loves. Her own mother turned into a bitter soul after Hope's father abandoned them. Hope doesn't want to be like her mother, but fears she might. So, she works at two jobs and saves every penny to pay for an attorney, but none of them wants to take on a losing battle. If she wants to reach her internal goal and save her stepson, she'll have to do something drastic. Thus, the plotlines develop and the story moves forward with lots of conflict.

Once the GMC is determined, the rest of the story will flow. However, getting GMC right isn't an easy task. Allow plenty of time to work on this.

That's where I'm at, dear readers. I really need to find a brainstorming partner.

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