Tracing Goal-Motivation-Conflict

To help your author develop strong GMC, try to identify the goal and motivation for each important character throughout the arc of the story. You’ll often find that goal-motivation is clear for only some of the characters or for only part of the story.

Conflict is usually sharpest and most compelling when all of the characters, including secondary characters, have reasons for what they do.

Remember, it’s common for goals-motivations to change throughout a story: Suppose Dan’s original story goal is to get some sleep but his neighbor’s barking dog won’t let him. So his new goal is to stop the barking dog. He goes over to the neighbor’s house and discovers his neighbor has been shot and the police suspect him in the murder. Now sleep is not on his agenda at all, and clearing his name becomes his goal.

If the goal and motivation of the main character in particular never changes, the story can feel one-note and readers can lose interest.

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