Before, I showed you how I created Sam’s GMC from his biography; let me give you an idea of how to use GMC once you have it:

So, that’s my actual wall.  Those are two of the seven GMC charts I have hung there.  My two main protagonists, actually.  On the top left, you’ll see an extra note: the lesson they need to learn by the end of the story.  In this novel, my antagonist and her minion don’t have these.  Because they fail to learn a lesson; they’re villains.  Not all antagonists are villains, though.  In some stories, an antagonist could be a friend or family member or even lover.  In order to for the antagonist have a happy ending, they need to arc as well.

This is hard, hard, hard until it’s not hard.  And then you have it, for this manuscript, anyway, and everything makes sense. Buy the book. Do some research.  If you’ve already written a story, do your GMC.

I by no  means claim expertness on this subject; but I know what works for me and how I use it. I would be happy to answer any question directed to me about my process in the comments or on Twitter.

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

I think I opened one hell of a can of worms when I offered to post one of my sample biographies last week.  Three hours later, I’ve done the prep work and I’m ready to post.

The biography I’m including today is for a secondary character in the manuscript I’m working on now.  Because I wanted to make comments so you could see my process, I typed it into MS Word, used the Review>Comment button to add info along the right side (in pretty blue bubbles) and, occasionally, in the text itself (but also in blue).

 

This is what you'll see if you download the file.  For four pages. =)

You can download the PDF here* and it will also be available on my Downloads page for always.

*When you click on the sample graphic or the text link, it just opens the PDF up in your browser.  If you like that sort of thing, we’re golden.  If not, right click (PC) or Control + Click (Mac) to save.

Everything I wanted to say is on that PDF.  I’ll be happy to discuss my process or answer any questions if you leave them for me in the comments or @me on Twitter.

Next Week:

I’ll show you how I used that backstory to create an internal and external goal/motivation/conflict chart as well as a real, live picture of GMC charts hanging on my wall and diagrammed for your use.  Because, yes, I am that awesome.  Or it’s not a big deal.

POV (Point of View).For a long time, I thought this only meant two things.First, whether you’re using first or third.Second, headhopping is bad.I knew I used third unlimited (more than one character gets a POV) and I did my best not to headhop.At least consciously.

Turns out, there’s a world more information about POV that I was in dire need of.Here’s what I’ve learned about POV from a couple of really great books (I’ll include two of my recommendations at the end of this post) and the wonderful critique group I joined.Boy, they keep me honest about POV.(For the sake of my sanity, I am only referring to third person.If you don’t know what that is, check this out.)

  1. A character can’t know something they don’t experience.They can’t know who came into the room behind them until they turn around, they can’t know that another character is confused (unless you SHOW them behaving in a confused way), and they can’t tell you what another character is experiencing.Sorry, not possible.Unless your character is psychic, I suppose.But mine aren’t so… moving on.
  2. It’s important to delve into what’s called deep POV so you can express what the character is feeling, thinking, etc.If we’re going to be in someone’s head, and we can only experience what they experience, we should be getting the full treatment, at least.
  3. No headhopping.Yeah, I already said that, but it bears repeating.The temptation to headhop is to tell the reaction of a different character to what is happening.So, really, it’s the temptation to tell instead of show.I don’t need to hear that Sue is angry.She can storm from the room and slam the door.Hey, I get it.Sue is pissed.
  4. POV characters have to matter.This from Orson Scott Card’s Character & Viewpoint.It’s easier for the reader to make the transition in POV if they already know the character and know the character is important.So be careful not to hand out POV scenes like candy.This is serious business.It’s more like handing out your credit card.

Books referenced in this post include Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell and Elements of Writing Fiction – Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Orson Scott Card.