Friday, August 26

Looking for my GMC

Some of my writer peeps have been floundering in their writing recently. Searching for the muse, the time, the inspiration, the sheer strength to deal with it all… And I’ll confess I’m there with them. I know I just released a book, which is a thrilling culmination of months and years of effort, and maybe I'm simply resting on my laurels as a result. However, as the saying goes, “You’re only as good as your last book”… which translates into a stress-inducing mantra of “just keep writing.”

Exceedingly stress-inducing when you’re not writing.

It has been at least a month—maybe more-- since I’ve written a word. I desperately need to work on book number three because, at the arduous pace I’ve set, it won’t come out until 2018! But every time I consider working on my story, even though I’m already several chapters into it, I think “Meh…”

I blame the kiddos with their start-of-school-schedule-shake-up. I blame the twenty-five other story ideas clashing in my head, keeping me too distracted to really sit down and concentrate on writing any one thing. I blame the rainy weather. I blame the sunny weather. I even blame myself because I know I’m just making excuses.
 
If my heroine's GMC was a car, it would be this!
However, I think maybe the real blame lies with my heroine. I have my other characters figured out, except her. At present, she is just another woman who is seemingly along for the ride. My first two heroines dealt with changing their careers… a sort of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” crises. This third gal already knows what she wants: she's a hair stylist. And, even though I’m transplanting (ok, “abducting”) her to an alien world, simply re-establishing her career on the new world isn’t enough. She needs to be more than just a romantic accessory for the hero as he fulfills his character arc. She needs to be her own character with her own arc.

She needs a Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. She needs her GMC. And we're not talking cars.

This is my struggle: what goal can my heroine have, besides getting off the alien rock and returning to earth? This could be a minor conflict for my characters… she wants to go home, he wants her to stay… but it can’t be the main one. Otherwise, when the hero gets his way and she stays, she is (albeit happily) defeated in the attainment of her one and only goal. And what sort of meager character arc would this give her, much less my story as a whole?

According to Storywonk and other savvy people, a goal needs to be something urgent, intensely meaningful, even life-or-death (unlike my personal goal at the moment, which is to find a bite of chocolate). The protagonist must reach her goal no matter the cost. And the antagonist must stop her no matter the cost (herein lies the awesome conflict that will carry the story). The protagonist must have sufficient motivation for reaching her goal. Going back to earth to continue a career as a hair stylist, when a sexy alien king wants you to stay with him in his castle as his queen, isn’t much of a goal, motivation, or conflict. It sounds more like a punchline to a joke!

Which is why I haven’t written anything on this story in a long while. I can’t fall back on the same themes from my previous books. And I haven’t figured out what this next book needs, except to know it needs… something.

I need inspiration: What sort of goals, motivations, and conflicts pique your interest? What sort of character arcs do you like to see in a story?

15 comments:

  1. Well, there was this cop...with a cat...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And he's totally going in my next book! :-)

      Delete
  2. dilemma, dilemma, Ava! I don't have any good answers for you...although I like that she doesn't want to be the queen and now I'm wondering what could make her change her mind...

    ReplyDelete
  3. As long as I like the character, the goals don't have to be monumental. Sometimes I want them to have days that equal mine with an emotional hurricane thrown into the mix. Also, I like dealing with the loss of an old life and trying to find the niche in a new one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, but I feel like I've kinda already done "just dealing with what life throws at you" in my last two books.

      Delete
  4. I also love, and maybe I'm out of turn here, when the goal turns out to be the wrong one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might have to go with that one! It certainly sound feasible for my heroine!

      Delete
  5. What if there's someone she wants to get home to--aka--a boyfriend? Instant conflict as their goals are complete opposites. And then, per Liz just above, she realizes he's the wrong one and alien King is the right one. And just about the time the alien King is ready to relinquish her, she realizes she wants to stay. Kind of if you love something, set it free, if it comes back, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good idea... I was contemplating having her earth boyfriend cheat on her, so she's a little wary in love. But this one might work, too.

      Delete
  6. A need to help others - a teacher or caring for a sibling, parent, friend in trouble. She wants to stop thinking only of herself...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good idea. She is certainly on the immature/flighty end of the spectrum... a little growing up and selflessness might be a nice addition to her character!

      Delete
  7. What if she has vowed to never have children because of her bad childhood and the King is itching for an heir? Or, if you want something more life altering like she wants to donate her organs to charity?

    T.C.-Always there for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my world, maybe she wants to donate her organs for alien research on earthlings? ;-)

      Delete
  8. Awesome suggestions, everyone! They certainly help get the wheels spinning in the ol' brain! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete