Tuesday, January 19, 2016

GMC, It's Not Just a Car Company Anymore

Previously on this blog, I admitted to being a panster. Hand-in-hand with this is not really knowing much about my characters before I write about them. Pretty much all I've got when I begin a story are the hooks that compel me to write it.

For example, the first (and only) novel I ever wrote was about a boy named Avery Mann who was born on Friday the Thirteenth with terrible luck. That's all I knew about him. Ten years of experimentation later, I learned a lot about who he was. Some highlights include:

  • He loves magic tricks and comics. A fact that affects and informs how I write his first person narrative.
  • He feels inferior to his six older brothers and wants to find a way to stand out... and not as the brother with the most hospital visits.
  • He prefers flight to fight, but when backed into a corner he has the ability to defend himself with his wits.
  • He's book smart, imaginative, and adaptive.
  • He's naive and a lacks self-confidence and people skills.
Now, not everyone has a decade to spend on 50+ versions of a story, but this is the way I learned about Avery Mann and writing children's literature. There were probably better ways to learn the craft, but this was my way of doing it. I'm glad I stuck with it and didn't give up because now I know I can finish a long story from beginning to end if I put my mind to it.

So, you might be asking why I mentioned GMC in my title post. What does a car company have to do with writing?

Well, you see before I met my agent, Nicole, I also thought GMC was only a car company. However, during one of our wonderful phone calls, she asked me to take a look at my characters' GMCs.

I was like... what confused

But I didn't say anything about my ignorance because I'm a librarian and when I don't know about something I search for it... on Google. 

Lo and behold! A quick search for "character GMC" revealed that GMC is not only a car company, but also shorthand for Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts.

After reading some of the websites and blog posts I found on GMC, I realized this was an area of my writing where I was still weak. As a panster, I like to get to know my characters naturally and I often do so through tense, witty, or humorous dialogue. This might make for entertaining scenes, but some of those scenes lacked depth or didn't connect well with the overall plot .

I realized that because I didn't spell out my character's GMCs, I lacked the ability to make the best revisions to my stories. Engaging dialogue is all well and good, but it needs to serve the plot more and to do that I needed to define my characters' GMCs.

Will this change me from panster to plotter? No, but I will be making use of this tool in the future as I write and make revisions to my stories.

It's helped me make the picture book I'm currently writing a ton better than what it was when I first showed it to my agent.

So, thankyou2 Nicole. You broadened my literary vocabulary and made me a better writer and all in three letters.

PS: For more information on GMCs, check out these helpful links: