Monday, January 10, 2011

What's on the Page?

To dig deeper and into my characters and go beyond their physical appearance and general history I fill out a GMC chart from Debra Dixon's book GMC-Goals, Motivation, and Conflict.

By using the chart I have to really think about the character and what their goal in life and for the story are. What do they consider a success a failure? Delving into why they want the goal helps me to learn more about their backstory and how they came to be the character starting this story. This knowledge gives me their motivation for their goal. And it helps me to build flaws that would keep them from attaining what they want and gives me the workings for their character arc or growth through the story.

Then I have to toss in conflict. Both internal, their own flaw or perceived flaw, and external conflicts from people or circumstances beyond their control.

Even though I've started Spirit of the Sky the chart is still a work in progress just like the book. And it will be until I get about a third of the way into the book and get to really know my characters.

What I have so far for Sa-qan the heroine:
Goal- to keep the Nimiipuu safe and together preferably on their land.
Motivation- It is who she is. Her focus as a spirit is to look after the Nimiipuu and see that they prosper.
Conflict - She finds to save the Nimiipuu she has to drop some or her rules and become one of them. The army is chasing the Nimiipuu from their land and killing them in the process.

Lieutenant Wade Watts:
Goal - To fulfill his duty and bring the Nimiipuu to the reservation.
Motivation - He wants to be promoted so he can stop moving from place to place. He's finally ready to settle down and let all the pain of the past catch up to him and hopefully heal.
Conflict- He finds himself sympathizing with the Nimiipuu and falls in love with a Nimiipuu maiden unlike the others. This makes it harder and harder to follow orders from his superior and could get him court martialed.

And that is one more step in how I create a book.

Hope this helps other writers and sheds light for readers about the process of writing.


Melinda B. Pierce said...

Hi Paty, great to see a post with some insight into your process. I just got Debra's GMC book and hope to put it to use for my next project.

Barbara Cool Lee said...

I think you sound very organized with your character charts and GMC!

I tend to just start writing and as I go along, the characters start to come alive. They often surprise me with twists I wasn't expecting (a hero for an upcoming book suddenly got a bratty teenaged daughter out of the blue--I hadn't planned that, but it works for the story).

I'm trying to learn to be more systematic in my writing. I need to become more efficient to speed up the process, so I'm saving your post to give me ideas for brainstorming characters. Thanks. :-)

Anonymous said...

My characters reveal themselves to me while I write...many of my characters cross my we've met them before and when I start their book, they reveal all! LOL.

M Pax said...

Your presentation on goals, movitvation and conflict was fab. Certainly helps me when creating or revisioning. Takes about 1/3 into a book for me to really get to know my character's too - some later, if they enter the story later.

Paty Jager said...


Debra's book is the first writing book that made sense to me and didn't put me to sleep. LOL I think you'll get a lot out of it.

Paty Jager said...

Barb, I still get surprised by my characters, but at least when I start that first page I have a strong feel for them. I've ended up with characters I didn't know wold show up while writing and in the planning stages I see I might have another Halsey book in he future and not for a Halsey brother... Or it may end up a short story to go along with the last Halsey book. We'll see. It depends on the character behaves. LOL

Paty Jager said...

Tess, I tried doing that when I first started and found I didn't give my characters strong enough goals to make their story memorable. But there are a lot of well known authors who do write like that and do well.

Paty Jager said...

Mary, I'm glad my presentation was helpful to you. I know my writing is stronger for using the GMC chart and working with my characters and story more before writing. I also find I do less writing myself into a corner because I know where I'm headed at all times.

Christine Young said...

I know many have reached success with the GMC. I love your first spirit book and I am looking forward to reading the others. A kindle for Christmas, and I plan to buy one from WRP.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Chris,

I'm glad you like Spirit of the Mountain. The next book will be out in May.

Do you use GMC for your books?

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for letting us peek at your process, Paty. I do a lot of character development before I begin to write the book. I use Deb Dixon's GMC and Robin Perini's Story Magic character charts to develop characters and conflict. This gives me a strong starting point from which to further develop the characters.

Paty Jager said...

Sarah, next Monday I talk about how I use story magic.