How to Find a Character’s GMC?

by Lori, @lorisizemore on 09.07.2011

in writing

If you read a book or watch a movie, and you’ve learned even a little about GMC, then you can figure out a character’s GMC.  If you are a writer and feel intimidated, I highly recommend that you try it.  I did it, here on the blog, for the movie Sabrina.

In the same way, if you’ve written some of your story already or done your character homework, you may be able to pull out the goals and motivation easily.  (Conflict comes after–it’s when your characters’ goals oppose one another).

But, maybe you can’t.  Maybe you’re clueless and you don’t want to just make something up.  Maybe you want to get to know more about your character’s past first.  Like I did, last week, when I did a free form character biography.

Find Sam’s Free Form Character Biography here to help you understand this week’s post.

I know that’s hard to read, so if you click the image, a larger image will open in a new window.

If you read the biography, you can clearly see where I found these goals and motivations.  But, let me say this: these could be better.

Analysis:

External Goal:

The first external goal isn’t so great.  I mean, it’s a good goal for him and I guess if they live through the story, he did it; but, it’s vague and hard to measure.  So, here’s what I do: how does he do that? By catching Billy.  And now I have a positive, specific goal.  The second external goal is much stronger.  When he finds out, he will have met his goal.  It’s measurable and specifically attainable.

External Motivation:

Motivation is always sticky for me.  As long as I can make it personal and real to the character, I consider it a win.

External Conflict:

You can see here, conflict comes when a character’s goals oppose another character’s goals.  That part is easy.  If it’s not, your characters are in the wrong story with each other.

Internal Goal:

Internal stuff?  Also sticky.  I try to make it something emotional and not tangible and… loftier.  But, still?  That’s a little vague.  I realized after I’d posted Sam’s bio that he probably has the weakest GMC of anyone, but I’m all in already, right?

So, to make that a little more concrete, how could he measure it?  He could seek out relationships that encourage him to pursue his own dreams and accept him for who he is. Or he could remove people who didn’t do that.  But, even though the second one is measurable, it’s a negative goal.  It’s like a goal of not losing your house.  Every day you live there, you meet your goal–makes it mundane.  In fact, that would probably make a better motivation than a goal.  But, moving on!

Internal Motivation:

Well, he’s made a mess of things.  A brief but very bad marriage on the rebound would make anyone not trust their own judgment, right?

Internal Conflict:

And, again, conflict gets all tied up in what other people want or don’t want.

Turns out, I actually have a lot to say on GMC.  In fact, I see at least two more posts on this subject, so maybe, September is GMC month here at Ink Diva!

Character Development Series

Turns out, I had so much to say about developing characters, I wrote a series of posts. Here they are, in order:
Develop Characters Without Worksheets
Writing Free Form Character Biographies
How to Find a Character’s GMC?
My GMC “In the Wild”
Plotting and Motivation

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