Do you know your own GMC? Not your characters, yours as a writer?

By Auregann (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

For writers of genre fiction where plot and story are central to the success of the book, we’re often told to clarify our characters’ GMCs. For non-writers, this stands for Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. And it’s best if you can have both an external and an internal one for your Main Character (and your other Main Character if it’s a romance) and your Antagonist (if it’s sentient).

This can be easily transformed into a sentence: Hero wants x because y, but z happens. Internal GMCs would be: Hero needs x because y, but z.

Anyway, as writers we can be so focused on perfecting our craft that sometimes we can neglect ourselves and hamper our goal. Last week I was at my monthly critique group meeting and one of us has multiple unpublished novels under her belt. She’s definitely put in the 10,000 hours of practice as she’s been writing for the last 10 years and she is extremely talented. Her prose drips with ethos and voice, her scenes and characters come alive, and she has great stories to tell. But you can’t read any of her work. In fact, though she’s been doing this for so long, we’re part of only a handful who actually knows she writes. She also has a fear of having folks she knows reading her work (I think she’s fine with strangers).

And this is all fine if she is writing solely for her own benefit. So at the meeting I asked her what her ultimate goal is, as that will help clarify whether she needs to go through the time-consuming and often gut-wrenching process of getting your work out there. And she would like to be published. She’s starting to research going the indie route and we were discussing it with great energy.

So to grossly simplify my good friend’s GMC, it would be: She wants to be published because she’d like to share her work with others, but she lacks time. And her internal GMC would be hampered by a fear.

Why is this good to know for yourself? Because just like with your Main Character, you need to know your goal, what’s opposing you, and then launch yourself into your own Story World and start tackling the steps to take you to your own Goal. Along the way you’ll have setbacks, your internal fears will hamper you, but keep yourself focused on your main goal and you’ll get there.

And if you need some inspiration to help you keep going through your Story World, an earlier post of mine talks about pushing past each setback you’ll hit on your journey, Writer Wednesday: When You Hit That Wall, Do You Nurse Your Head, Or Climb Over? Then once you picture yourself climbing over (or around or under) that wall and the multitude of writers who are not doing that, read Kristen Lamb’s post What Are the Odds of Success? …Really? In it, she maintains that “It has been statistically demonstrated that only 5% of any population is capable of sustained change.” So with each metaphorical wall you hit as a writer, remember that only 5% get to the other side. Do you want to be part of that 5%?

Do you know your own GMC? What fears are holding you back? Do you have your next immediate goal you need to tackle?


  • Do you know your own GMC? Not your characters, yours as a writer? @AngelaQuarles <– Click to tweet
  • Have you launched yourself into your own Story World? Know your own GMCs @AngelaQuarles <– Click to tweet

Image source: By Auregann (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

7 Replies to “Do you know your own GMC? Not your characters, yours as a writer?”

  1. This is so important. I have a wonderful CP, she’s a two time GH finalist, but she didn’t finish her books. To make it worse, she was querying books she hadn’t finished. I finally took her aside and suggest she may have a fear of success. She looked at me as if the idea had never struck her before. She’s now finished her books, winning contests and getting requests for fulls, which she can actually send in.

  2. Agree! It’s so much harder to get where you’re going if you don’t know where it is you want to go!

  3. Unfortunately, I think I need to spend as much time pondering my own GMCs as I do my characters’! Thanks for some great thinking material.

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