Monday, September 14, 2009

GMC: Looking at the M by Katie Ganshert

Once again we welcome Katie Ganshert to Manuscript Monday here on Seriously Write. She's here with Part II of her series on Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

GMC: Looking at the Motivation

Now that we’ve established the need for an urgent, important, and timely goal, let's look at the M in GMC: Motivation. Motivation answers the question: Why does your character want what he wants?

Here’s the thing about fiction: there are no limits. If you want your character’s goal to be cloning his dead uncle Bob, you can do it. If you want your character’s goal to be capturing a colony of hostile mermaids living at the bottom of the ocean, you can do that too. You can make these goals believable as long as you establish a strong, plausible motivation behind them.

Here’s an Example

Character Goal: Winning a pie-eating contest

C’mon, that’s an absurd goal. Who cares about winning a pie eating contest? Give your character a compelling motive behind the silly goal, and your reader might just start to. Let’s say our character is a bean pole who can’t eat more than a sugar snap pea without getting full. His father is a burly man who thinks real men have big appetites. Our character has always been a disappointment to his dad—the skinny black sheep of his otherwise husky family. Taking first place in that pie eating contest suddenly becomes much more than winning a blue ribbon. It means proving to his father, and to himself, that he’s just as much of a man as the next big guy. The story is silly, no doubt, but at least it’s believable.

Writing good fiction means suspending disbelief. And nothing screams unbelievable more than a goal with a poorly constructed motivation. Without a strong motivation, the story falls apart. And when the story falls apart, you’ve lost your reader. Motivation is key. Every character needs a goal. Every goal needs a motivation.

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.

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