Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guest Blogger: Anna Kathryn Lanier on GMC

Goal, Motivation and Conflict

Yesterday, my newest story was released. A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE is a sequel to my short story THE PRICELESS GIFT and it was a long time in coming. As soon as I finished The Priceless Gift, I knew I wanted to write Jacob's story. He's the brother of the heroine in The Priceless Gift. However, it wasn't an easy story to write. I had trouble with the plot, but finally, I did come up with a heroine for Jacob and a story line and I wrote the story. Then I sent it off to my editor.

She sent it back saying she loved it, but that it needed work. The characters were “two-dimensional.” I needed to improve the story and then I could resubmit it. I re-read the story. Wow! I thought I'd nailed it, but I hadn't. The hero, the beloved Jacob, had no GMC--Goal, Motivation or Conflict. He was just there.

Oh, I had given him backstory and he went through angst, but he didn't have anything that he 'needed' or 'wanted.' He didn't have a GOAL. He didn't have MOTIVATION. He didn't have CONFLICT. Aside from the fact the story took place in his house and he seduced the heroine, Tessa, there was no reason for him to be in the story.

Not exactly hero material after all.

To help me fix this major problem in my story, I pulled Deb Dixon's book Goal, Motivation, Conflict off the shelf and flipped through. For those who are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend it. Deb writes an easy to read and understand explanation of GMC.

So, what is GMC? In a nutshell--the hero needs a goal, something he wants or needs. Then he needs a reason, or motivation, for his goal. Then, and this is important, he needs a conflict that is stopping him from getting his goal. The more conflict stopping him from getting what he wants, the better.

It should also be mentioned that there is an internal goal and an external goal. Deb says, “If you can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it, or smell it…that's external….If the character has to feel it (experience emotion) then you're dealing with the internal side of your character.”

While I had given Jacob a wishy-washy external goal (buying a ranch), I had not given him an internal goal, or made the external goal worthy enough. I had to mold Jacob's backstory to form an emotional reason for his goals.

From the beginning I had it that he'd grown up on a ranch in Hawaii, but as an adult, had become a lawyer instead of a rancher. Now, he wanted to be a rancher. I realized in re-reading the story that I had to add layers of emotions and memories to feed into his goal. I was able to make the goal of a ranch both an external goal, and to an extent, an internal goal. He wanted what he missed the most--the family life he'd grown up with and missed greatly.

Cue the heroine.

Tessa jumped into the picture to give him part of his internal goal. As a cook for the ranch, she filled his home with scrumptious, home-cooked meals, just like his mother made. Enticing aromas filled the air and an enticing cook roamed about his house, bombarding him with emotions he didn't quite know how to deal with. He had to come to terms with his conflict of not involving himself with someone “more screwed up than he was.”

Once I added this layer to the story, my editor loved it even more and offered a contract on it, for which I'm really grateful.

A Gift Beyond All Measure is now available at


Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he's not looking for romance.

Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson--when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure

To help celebrate the release of A Gift Beyond All Measure, I am giving away a free cookbook, full of many of the recipes Tessa cooks in the story, along with a handful of recipes from 'family and friends.' You can obtain a free pdf copy of A Gift Beyond All Measure Cookbook at my website,

And, I am also hosting Holiday Cheer on my blog--a different recipe for holiday cheer every day through now and December 31, 2010.


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Patricia. Thanks for having me today. I should have added to my post that I'll give away a free copy of A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE to anyone who leaves a comment (and a way for me to contact them).

And I didn't put up my blog address so you can access the yummy recipes I'm posting daily for Holiday Cheer

Nightingale said...

Good post on GMC. Got me wondering if I should check my WIP for the hero's GMC. Thanks Anna for an interesting post.

Vonnie Davis said...

I'm heading over to Amazon now to buy my own copy of the book you recommended. Great post and to all you readers out there, I highly recommend "A Gift Beyond All Measure."

Jannine said...

It always opens one's mind when learning by example. How you came to give your hero more dimension has clicked and helped me see that one of my hero's needs the same tweaking. A very timely post for me.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Nightingale. Yes, I thought Jacob had GMC, and I guess he did a little, but it wasn't nearly enough to sustain the book. Ideally, every character in the book should have GMC.

Vonniem oh, yeah, Goals, Motivation and Conflict by Deb Dixon is a great book to have on your bookshelf.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Jannine. Yeah, I really thought I'd nailed the story when I sent it in to Stacey the first time. But man! When she sent it back and I re-read it, I was really embarressed! Always good to look at ways to tweak it. And sometimes, it's just a line or a passing thought that will help out.

Kathy Otten said...

Thanks for reminding all of us to really dig deep into our characters. Along with Debra Dixon's great book, is Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, by Donald Maass.
Good Luck with your sales!

Mary Ricksen said...

Wonderful advise. I am having a similar issue with one of my stories. Great book jacket by the way. I hope that you sell a ton of them and that your happy dance continues through the holidays and beyond!
I am so looking forward to reading this one!
Good luck~!

Lynne Roberts said...

This is a great advice and a good way to remember that it's complex characters readers find most interesting.

I love the premise of this book! LOL I'm off to check my WIP for GMC. : )

Congratulations and good luck!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi Kathy, Lynne and Mary. Thanks for stopping by. I don't think you can stress GMC enough.

Yep, I really like the cover. The red is really eye catching.

Mary said...

Even your story on selling your book had GMC! Thanks for a fun to read post on such an important topic!

Patricia Preston said...

Anna, this was a great post and your illustration of GMC made it easy to understand how it improves a story or character.

Katherine Bone said...

Hi Anna Kathryn! I love Debra Dixon's book and I've attended her workshop. Another good book is Stephen King's On Writing.

Best wishes with you newest story. It sounds perfect. :)

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Mary. Well, the GMC in the post wasn't intended, so maybe I know it better than I thought I

Hi, Patricia, thanks again for having me today. I'm glad it was easy to understand. Certainly, having it slammed in my face so plainly helped me to understand it better!

Katherine, hi! I was fortunate enough to hear Deb in person, too. That's where I got the book. I think it's autographed, too. I like King's book, too. Excellant choices for someone looking for how-to books. King's is less than $10 and available at most stores.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Anna, my Debra Dixon GMC book has dog-ear pages all over and underlines with pencil. It's the best gift a writer can give herself.

Anne Carrole said...

Nice concise and clear explanation of GMC!

Pat said...

Great post! You made GMC so easy to understand. Sometimes my brain fogs up and these concepts gets Will be looking for Deb Dixon's book.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Anna,
Thanks for the tips! This is a great post, and got me to thinking about my own characters and their motivations--are they real enough? etc. I will look for Deb Dixon's book--I didn't know about it until now.


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

ooops. I have a big typo in my first comment....I love ya all, but I can't afford to give everyone a free copy of my book. I meant to say I'd have a drawing and everyone who left a comment would be eligible for the drawing! Sorry.

I did draw a name and Anne Carrole is the winner. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented. I''m glad the blog was helpful!