Monday, September 21, 2009

GMC: Looking at the C

Please welcome Katie Ganshert once again this Manuscript Monday for her continuing series on GMC.

GMC: Looking at the C

by Katie Ganshert

Conflict. Hate it in real life. Love it in fiction. According to Debra Dixon, the strength of a story rests in its conflict. Wow, that's a big statement. Why is conflict so important? Because conflict is the gasoline that keeps our stories running. Who wants to read a story about a character who accomplishes his goal without any problems? Talk about boring.

So what, exactly, is conflict? It’s any obstacle that stands in the way of your character reaching his goal. Conflict moves the story forward. Think about every good book you’ve ever read. The characters are not stagnant, are they? Of course not. They grow, mature, evolve. How does this happen? By overcoming obstacles that get in the way of their goal.

What you should know about conflict:
- Conflict equals tension and tension is what makes readers flip pages.
-Villains make excellent conflicts
- Bickering isn’t conflict
- Misunderstanding isn’t conflict

Three ways to increase conflict:

- Raise the stakes: Imagine the worst case scenario and run with it
- Fish out of the water: Throw your character in a situation or a setting that’s so far out of his comfort zone that conflict is inevitable

-Two dogs, one bone. Two characters both want the same thing. Only one can win.

Important to keep in mind: all the conflict in the world won't mean a thing if you don't establish an important goal and a compelling motivation. If your character doesn't really care all the much about accomplishing the goal, or the reason behind the goal isn’t important, it won't matter how many obstacles you throw in your character’s path, because if your character doesn't care about the outcome, your readers won’t either.

Katie Ganshert was born and raised in Iowa, where she currently resides with her husband, their ten-month-old son, and their black lab, Bubba. She keeps busy balancing her roles as wife, mother, 5th grade teacher, and writer. She writes emotional love stories. Two of her short stories will be published in Christian Fiction Online Magazine, one in August, the other in November. She is an active member of ACFW, has completed three novels, and looks forward to writing more. You can find Katie at her website: or on her blog where she writes about all things writing.


  1. Katie, how fun to meet you face to face at conference! I knew I should know your face. :)

    Thanks for sharing this awesome series with SW readers!


  2. Great post, Katie. I'm skimming back to the "G" & "M" to get the entire story. Thanks so much.

    Pepper Basham


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