Monday, September 7, 2009

GMC: Looking at the G

This Manuscript Monday, please welcome Katie Ganshert to share on Goal, Motivation, Conflict. This piece begins her four-part series which will take us through Mondays in September.

GMC: Looking at the G

Debra Dixon wrote a book called Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, by far one of my most favorite craft books to date. According to Debra, every story can be pared down into three basic elements: goal, motivation, and conflict. Get them right, your story will flourish. Get them wrong, and your story might take a nose dive.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the G in GMC: the Goal. Your main character needs a goal. This goal should answer the question: What does my character want? Sounds simple, right? It is, as long as you keep three things in mind:

Urgency. To give your story that ever elusive hook, you want to create a goal that is urgent, not something your character could accomplish just as well ten years from now. Create a sense of urgency within your character, and you will entice your readers to keep flipping pages.

Consequences: Your goal should come attached with a “So What?” addendum. If your character doesn’t accomplish this particular goal, so what? Are the consequences big enough to make your readers care? Make your readers care, and they will stick around.

Timing: Once you’ve established the G, make it evident right off the bat. Don’t leave your reader guessing what your character wants to accomplish until half way through your novel. Clue your reader in, and do it in a timely manner. A note of caution: Show the goal, don’t tell it.

What happens when your character doesn’t have a clearly defined goal? The story becomes episodic and lacks a sense of direction. Episodic books are incredibly hard to sell and even harder to read.

So get off to a good start. Give you character an important goal.

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. I loved this post! THank you! I am all about the goals and I sure hope I gave me character a good one!

  2. Thanks Terri! Glad it was helpful. Thanks for the writers at Seriously Write for featuring my GMC articles. :)

  3. i loved your series when you first did it....probably b/c we were reading that book at the same time. :) certainly did revolutionize the way we write, didn't it? :)

    Where Romance Meets Therapy

  4. Katie, great to have you here!!


  5. Katie, great to see you over hear. Great write up on goals! Thank you!


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