It came to my attention recently that it’s really important to me what font my stories are written in.
GOALS – I wrote notes about characters’ goals in my last blog post but I think there’s another person’s goals who are really important when we talk about writing.
Debra Dixon’s GMC Workshop
- Characters who want something they don’t have = BETTER.
- Goal - important enough for character to act against their own best interest; needs a sense of urgency.
- Make sure short term goal outweighs long term goal but will affect long term goal.
- Make the goal specific – something that is ACTIONABLE.
- Starter goal – gets book going but is not necessarily what the book is about.
- One goal should lead to the next – and keep raising the stakes!
- You have to support the BIG GOAL with SMALLER GOALS.
- External Goal – go something/do something – created FOR THE STORY.
- Internal Goal – what character brings into the story – their baggage/damage that character has to deal with by the end of the book.
- EVERY character should have goals/have an agenda.
- Goals are NOT ALWAYS achieved.
- If character doesn’t read the goal, we need to know WHY.
- If character is NOT going to achieve a goal – make the reader satisfied by showing it was the WRONG goal.
- If you don’t show character growth – YOU FAILED.
- There are two choices for any character: 1) Sucky 2) Suckier.
- Give characters grey areas – not necessarily noble choices/actions. eg) Give them decisions to make that are HARD – to adopt out a baby or to abort it.
- Think about what a character will sacrifice and what they will not, then bring them face to face with these things/those choices.
- Give your characters what they say they want and take away what they say they don’t want – because its one thing to say things and another to actually do them.
- Motivation - can be multi-layered/have more than one.
- Characters can lie to themselves and they can take action on lies they’ve been told.
- Minor goals need motivation too.
- Any time the goal changes, check the motivation.
- Conflict – bad things happening to good people or Two Dogs + One Bone.
- The characters GMCs should COLLIDE.
- Love is often a conflict – eg) wrong guy, wrong time.
- Good conflict doesn’t have an obvious conclusion.
- You don’t have to get BOTH the external and the internal conflict on page one.
- You have to break your h&H to make them WHOLE AGAIN.
- You need to be able to sum up each character’s GMC in 25 words.
- Each book has a life lesson and its often good when the character vocalises the life lesson.
- Each scene in a book needs THREE reasons to be there – at least one reason needs to be G or M or C!!!
- There needs to be a physical outward journey AND emotional inward journey.
- Mass Market Fiction deals with BIG LIFE ISSUES and shows that change is possible, offers hope.
- Journey teaches hero how to change.
- Ordinary World – gives context for story; establish as quickly as possible but take as long as you want – LOL.
- Call to Adventure – make clear the goal and what’s at stake; big or small.
- Reluctance/Refusal to the call – shows character is not stupid.
- Mentor – helps prepare hero for journey.
- Cross The First Threshold – point of no return.
- Tests, Allies and Enemies – has to face things and take action, helps readers understand the conflict, develops character and plot development, tests character’s motivations.
- Approach The Inmost Cave – character faces danger, there’s often a love scene.
- The Ordeal – grey moment, on the brink of greatest fear, secrets about to come out, goals in jeopardy, characters lose ability to lie to them-self.
- Reward – small victory.
- Roadback – hero’s decision to get out; recognises that we haven’t won the war yet.
- Resurrection – old self becomes new, central problem comes back, last gasp of evil forces, characters make decisions that they wouldn’t have made at the beginning.
- Return with the Elixer – back in their ordinary world, helps readers leave the character/s in a better place.
- Each story needs a controlling idea – controlling idea is NOT the same as premise. (eg. Think I worked out the controlling idea in my current wip is “Hero throws himself into relationships because he doesn’t feel worthy and heroine avoids relationships because she doesn’t feel worthy.” They both need to learn that they ARE worthy.
- Characters are only revealed in their true essence when under pressure – when they have to make hard choices.
- Understand your writing process and accept it – however wacky and different from your friends, CPs and famous writers.
- h&H’s have to recognise the truth about each other and falling in love makes them realise the truth about themselves.
- Reader has to understand why the characters think the romance can’t work out.
- Her take on Presents vs Romance: Presents = unresolved sexual tension; Romance = unresolved emotional tension.
Otherwise known as The Conference Delegate Who Kept Kleenex In Business.
Two sleeps until all the fun of the RWA Oz conf begins. I arrive in Sydney on Thursday and its pretty much straight to the e-list dinner. From there there’s dinners, drinks, workshops, brekkies, parties, more workshops, more dinners and I just can’t wait.