Saturday, February 17, 2024

February's Round Robin Blog

 Feb 17

Our Round Robin topic this month is Goal, Motivation, and Conflict; it is the glue that holds your story together and keeps your reader turning the page. It can and should be applied to every central character in your story to create more emotional impact while readers, knowingly or unknowingly, experience its benefit. In a romance, if your reader reaches for the Kleenex, you’ve done your job as a writer. Or, in a mystery, if a murderer is apprehended and brought to justice, that reader may well feel a great sense of satisfaction or relief at the conclusion.

These goals, motivations, and conflicts can be internal or external, but when GMC is internal, it exposes the character’s emotional needs. Who wants what? Why do they want it? What stops them from getting it? Digging deep into your character’s psyche can build a compelling storyline because their goals, motivations, and conflicts can often be linked to emotional wounds.

Say a character has been unlucky in love. They might conclude they are just not lovable and don’t deserve to be loved. Their emotional wound or need is to find love, which becomes their goal. Their motivation might be to move beyond those feelings of unworthiness, which can create conflict. How do they achieve the very thing they want the most? What is standing in their way or preventing them from reaching their goal? This block can also be their external conflict.

What if your character looking for love meets someone who continually puts them down in a mean or sly way? How long before Character #1 realizes what Character #2 is up to? This realization can become a powerful external conflict as Character #1 comes to terms with it. What if Character #1 decides they must escape Character #2? What ugly confrontation could stem from it and add weight to your story?

There are many ways to work with these aspects of writing a story. Some writers use charts, and others write backstories. I don’t want to make writing a more challenging exercise than it already is, so when I do my character profile, I make bullet points and then enlarge them as I write because I am more of a pantser than a plotter.

I’m always interested in how other authors deal with different aspects of the writer’s craft, so now I’ll see what I can learn from the following:

Dr. Bob Rich 

Anne Stenhouse

Connie Vines

Helena Fairfax

Diane Bator

Skye Taylor


  1. We are clearly on the same wave length on GMC. Without it there's no tension and no story. It is the glue that holds it all together. Great post.

  2. Hi Victoria - I, too, find things out as I go along. Bullet points seems like a good, visual aid. Will try that out. Anne

    1. I do wonder if dedicated plotters ever have the element of surprise when/if one of their characters goes off piste!

  3. Thank you, Victoria. Brief and to the point, which is the best way to explain anything.

  4. I like the idea of the bullet points, Vicki. I don't like to plan my books too thoroughly, either, but I do have an idea of the goal, motivation and conflict before I start. Like you say, these form the glue for the whole story. I've really enjoyed our Round Robin this month!