Posted On May 3, 2017 by Print This Post

Goal, Motivation, and Conflict with Joanne Dannon


Author Joanne Dannon joins us today for a discussion on one of my favorite subjects, GMC.

GMC is an acronym for Goal, Motivation and Conflict, and is the foundation for good books.

I wish I’d known about GMC when I first started writing. However, a few years after being rejected (many times), I was fortunate to attend Debra Dixon’s one day workshop, with Romance Writers of Australia. This day of learning changed my (writing) life and it was a huge light bulb moment for me.

Learning about GMC and the impacts to your writing is so important and I often advise new writers to buy Debra’s GMC book.

GMC makes your characters interesting and makes your readers want to keep reading.

What does your character want to achieve? Why? And what’s stopping them? If you’re writing romance, you should either know (because you’re a pantser) or have developed this (because you’re a plotter) for both your main characters (generally the hero and heroine).

Even in non-romance stories, writers should have solid GMC for their main characters. For example, in a murder mystery there should be good reasons for the killer to kill and for the detective to “bring in the bad guy”.

Spending time creating solid and meaningful GMC is the difference to “I couldn’t stop reading the book” vs “is was so predictable and boring”.

James Patterson does this really well with his Alex Cross books. Even though Alex’s job is to go after the bad guys, he has a complex backstory which drives him and also often puts him in danger. You’re drawn to Alex as a character because of his strong GMC.

If you want your readers to care about your characters, you need to spend time on developing solid reasons for their actions.

Let’s look at romance, using my latest book Forever Mine as an example. Hannah has had a crush on Zac for years but he’s never noticed her. To move on, she’s got a job overseas however, Zac organises a better one for her, keeping her in Melbourne. Hannah wants to get away from Zac but having a fab job locally means she can’t.

At the beginning of the book, in Hannah’s POV, she sees her crush and his current squeeze, and she’s reminded again of how stupid she is pining over him.

“Getting away from Zac, her shameful secret, and forgetting her stupid soft spot for him was what was needed. And teaching English in Japan was the perfect plan for her to move on with her life and get out of the idiotic rut she’d created for herself.”

We can see here, the goal and motivation are clearly provided to the reader. The conflict comes a few pages later (again in Hannah’s POV).

“Couldn’t he have told her privately? Did he have to make it part of his best man speech? Seriously? What was she going to tell the Warnes? They were like parents to her? She was planning on leaving the country for Japan in three weeks, how could she take on Zac’s fancy-shmancy job?”

Hannah is moving overseas so she can get over her crush on her BFF’s brother but he organises a job of a lifetime for her, keeping her in Melbourne. Not only has he organised a fab job but she doesn’t want to hurt the two people who have raised her for the past 14 years. The Warnes. She’s torn between wanting to say no and yes. Again, the reader wants to know how this will be resolved and will keep reading. But then it’s resolved so I bring in more GMC.

I created GMC for both Hannah and Zac. Some of it is resolved during the book and some of it is resolved at the end of the book.

Remember, it’s not just external goals but also internal. The example above is external GMC whereas internal GMC focuses on issues like self-acceptance, wanting love, being independent.

I use these techniques to keep the story fresh and interesting, plus it keeps the reader glued to my story, wondering how they will resolve each one. I love hearing back from readers who tell me they read my books in one sitting because they couldn’t put the book down.

Whether you are a plotter or pantser with your writing styles, I highly recommend you look at the GMC for your main characters to make your writing un-put-downable.

Happy writing!

Do you have any GMC techniques you can share with us?


FOREVER MINE – April 2017

Forever Mine is the 4th book in the Alex Jackson series and can be read as a standalone book.

It’s never a good idea to fall for your best friend’s brother… or so they say.

Hannah Greene is fed up. A romantic at heart, she’s had a major crush on her best friend’s brother for years but he’s never noticed her. To shape a life for herself away from Zac, she must move on.

Zac Warne, smooth-talking sales guy who takes responsibility to a whole new level, loves the thrill of the chase but is not interested in settling down, ever. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in love, it’s just not for him.

But circumstances have Hannah and Zac spending one weekend together and a night of fun leads to more than just emotional consequences for them.

Compelled to right wrongs and beholden to fix problems, Zac has to convince Hannah his about-turn about wanting a relationship with her is not just one of convenience. Can Hannah now trust this smooth-talking playboy who has a reputation for breaking hearts, including her own?

Available from: Amazon  


Joanne Dannon, an Australian author, writes to give her readers the experience she loves to savor—indulging in a sigh-worthy-happily-ever- after, being swept away from the everyday by diving into a delicious romance novel.

Joanne is a happily married mother of two heroes-in-training who loves spending time with friends and family. She can be found on Facebook and her website chatting about reading, writing, cooking, vintage-inspired dresses and all things romantic.

Joanne Dannon on the web:  Facebook     Website      Instagram     Goodreads

Sign up for Joanne’s Reader Newsletter and get a FREE e-copy of Bidding on Love! 


Similar Posts:

Share Button



10 Responses to “Goal, Motivation, and Conflict with Joanne Dannon”

  1. Hi Joanne,

    While a story may have a compelling plot, there is no story without plausible GMC. Years ago, I took a synopsis workshop with Mary Buckham where participants were required to flesh out the external and internal GMC for the main characters. For me, it was one of those lightning bolt moments. GMC is the foundation of every story, and if you can’t nail it down, then you have to ask yourself what’s your story really about? I have Deb Dixon’s book on GMC. It’s a keeper.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | May 3, 2017, 12:23 pm
  2. Afternoon Joanne!

    I have Deb Dixon’s book as well, and definitely in the front of the bookshelf. Sometimes when I can’t figure out a character I go back to GMC and nail it down….it’s generally something that’s not pinpointed directly by G, M or C.

    Thanks for your post!

    Posted by Carrie Peters | May 3, 2017, 3:07 pm
    • Thanks Carrie – great to hear!!!!! I also love Debra’s book, it really changed the way I wrote.

      Irrespective of your writing genre, I think this book is a must for all authors.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Posted by Joanne Dannon | May 3, 2017, 3:21 pm
  3. good post, reminded me to think a little more

    Posted by Barbara | May 4, 2017, 4:52 pm
  4. Like Mary Buckham, Deb Dixon is someone I would love to meet. I’ve never been to one of her workshops but I hear they are amazing.

    For years I lusted after my own copy of GOAL, MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT but at that time it was out of print and used copies ran into triple digits.

    I was thrilled when GMC was reissued. I reread it regularly, hoping it will eventually sink in.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 5, 2017, 10:41 am
    • Thanks Becke. I think Deb Dixon does a brilliant job in explaining GMC and her book is a definite keeper.

      I know that if I’m struggling with a character or my book is not moving forward, I need to go back to the GMC.

      Thanks for the kind remarks and thanks for dropping by 🙂

      Posted by Joanne Dannon | May 5, 2017, 2:50 pm


  1. […] Goal, Motivation, and Conflict (Romance […]

Post a comment

Upcoming Posts





Follow Us