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How To Use GMC Charts To Plot A Novel

Goal. Motivation. Conflict.

These are three of the basic building blocks of a character that drive plot. In other words, what does the character want, why, and what’s stopping them getting it? This is the core of your plot, and when two characters both have the same goal, or otherwise interfere with another’s goal, things start to get really interesting.

GMC charts are used to track all the goals, motivations and conflicts of all the major and important secondary characters. It not only cross-checks that all your characters are doing things for good reasons (and not just because the writer wants them to) but that everyone is sufficiently impeded from getting what they want.

Conflict is essential.

It also helps you to plot, as the chart can help you to spot associations you might not otherwise have made. He wants this, and she wants that, and if she does this, look, it gets in his way…

Here’s what a GMC chart looks like:

Private Life
Professional Life
Personal Life
Goal: Deal with her emotional issues about men
Motivation: Necessary to heal her dying father
Conflict: Has a lot of baggage including a history of child abuse, and rape.
Goal: To leave her life as an assassin
Motivation: A lover and a baby make her reconsider her life path
Conflict: 1) Risks letting her adopted father die if she does, 2) Her fellow assassins may try to hunt her down and kill her for betraying them 3) Her lover doesn’t know she is an assassin.
Goal: Identify and neutralise a bounty hunter in the castle
Motivation: If she doesn’t, he will kill her first
Conflict: His identity is unknown
Goal: Find a magical artefact to heal her adopted father
Motivation: Love
Conflict: The artefact is hidden in the castle of a mad duke
Goal: Use Aldenon to get access to his key
Motivation: Gives access to the room where she thinks the artefact is hidden
Conflict: 1) Her fear of men 2) She finds herself genuinely attracted/falling in love
Goal: Relationship with Aldenon
Motivation: Falling in love
Conflict: He has a secret keeping them apart
Goal: Help Raylee find the missing girls
Motivation: Genuine concern for her new friend and a touch of self-interest
Conflict: Limited freedom in the castle and doesn’t want to blow her cover
Goal: Kill Danek
Motivation: Revenge
Conflict: She’s pregnant and her adopted father is protecting Danek
Goal: Wants to be an assassin
Motivation: Assassins have more power than spies
Conflict: Jeharv won’t agree
Goal: Wants to be master of the Order
Motivation: Wants more power and sees an opportunity when learns Jeharv is dying Conflict: Astarl is trying to save Jeharv
Goal: To steal the artefact and become immortal
Motivation: Largely opportunistic – sees an opportunity to steal the item from Jeharv
Conflict: Needs Astarl to find it but taking it from her won’t be easy, and doesn’t want anyone to know he has betrayed them yet.
Goal: To distract and ultimately eliminate Astarl.
Motivation: To secure the artefact
Conflict: Astarl is a canny assassin and not an easy target.

This is only a short extract showing two characters from my book Deathhawk’s Betrayal, but you can see that not only does each character have multiple goals, but the goals can be categorised according to which part of a character’s life they affect:
  • Private life – the character’s innermost life, kept hidden and private – secret fears and desires;
  • Professional life – the character’s work; and
  • Personal life – The character’s friends, family, living arrangements, personal goals etc.
There are multiple goals because the protagonist (and possibly the villain) will have a main goal, and then also various sub-goals that help them work towards the main goal. Tracking out each interim goal can be useful to focus on sub-plots.

You can also see from this sample how Danek and Astarl’s goals overlap, which breeds potential for conflicts. You might also see how two otherwise unrelated characters can be linked, so that their goals and motivations clash with one another.

This is only a tool for identifying plot weaknesses and opportunities. Once you’ve gotten this far, it’s up to you where the plot and the characters take you.

GMC charts are tools for plotters more than pantsers. Sure, you can stop halfway through a novel and whip out a GMC chart to see what direction you’re taking, but as a pantser you probably won’t want to do that. A GMC chart can be most useful in the initial stages of planning, midway through a novel to check the direction you’re headed in, and after a first draft has been written and before revisions, to find where plots can be strengthened or linked.

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Navigating the World of E-Book Publishing

–> Navigating The World Of E-Book Publishing was released fourteen days ago and it has been on several & Top 100 Bestselling Lists since. This is a short e-book with some of the basic beginning steps on the road to e-publishing your manuscript by Deena Rae Schoenfeldt. This is not a roadmap to getting a best seller nor it is a technical manual or writing guide, rather it addresses things that most aspiring authors don’t take into consideration before starting their publishing journey. Filled with tips, tricks, and helpful advice, this book a must read if you have aspirations of joining the indie publishing ranks, have already published your own book or have a full back-list of titles already on the bookstore shelves.

Book Description

With a no-nonsense, conversational style, Deena Rae of E-BookBuilders gives advice to aspiring authors about indie publishing. Filled with information about social media, pricing, formatting styles, covers, reviews and platforms (to a name a few) there is a wealth of information for the novice author. Even experienced authors and publishers will find this book helpful and informative.
With sections such as ‘Authors – Quit Doing This!’, ‘In Praise of Audio(books)’, ‘Twitter Primer for Authors’, and ‘Should You Use Amazon’s Author Central’, Deena Rae gives detailed information that anyone in the industry of publishing should know and consider.
Whether you are just starting on your publishing journey, considering entering the literary world or have 30 books for sale, there is something for everyone in this book.
If you would like to add the book to your Goodread’s shelf – just click the button!

What Other’s Are Saying

This book is a must read for Indie Authors. Deena lays out the ins and outs of ebook publishing that many other people fail to hit on. From the novice writer to the seasoned pro, there are hidden nuggets of gold for everyone in this book. The author shares her viewpoint, having worked in the industry on several sides, as if you were talking to a friend. With helpful hints, do’s and don’ts, this is the best “get your feet wet” book I’ve come across. -Janet W., Amazon Customer
…I got down to reading and oh my word. Almost a year into self publishing the hard way, learning everything on my own, I thought I knew it all, but no. Deena Rae’s book is filled with little known information, tidbits of advice, obviously picked up from years of working in the trade. Not only was there much information to be soaked in, but my brain was pleasantly sponging every little thing up because the book is written in a fun and engaging way. I read it in one sitting, and as my kindle can attest, any other tech book is rarely read beyond 40%. -Lisa G., Goodreads Reader
…This book will answer so many questions that come up during the process, which had me baffled and almost ready to throw in the towel. The author also gives excellent information on how to promote your book. She does all this with a personal touch. You will not be buried in tech speak where even a dictionary would fail miserably….I highly recommend this book to anyone that is considering self-publishing their work, or is interested in seeing how it is all done. -Amazon Customer
I had the feeling of believing and trusting Deena knowledge, straight shooting style and passion for what she does while reading her book. She produced an ebook that was easy to read and kept me scrolling through without stopping.-Mauri B., Amazon Customer
Like many authors I wish had had read books like this before I published my first book. However it is never too late to learn. It is good to read about the things I seem to have got right, the things I could improve on and to learn a few tricks from scratch. The book is very well laid out with descriptive chapter titles so that it will be easy to dip back into which I certainly will. -Wendy U., Goodreads Reader

Who Is Deena Rae?

E-BookBuilders is the online alias of Deena Rae. She was born and raised in Texas – home of bluebonnets, boots, beef and big hair – into a family that was in the printing and publishing industries. Her father was a computer programmer for major newspapers when the equipment took up whole rooms and mother has been a publisher for almost 30 years – trying, unsuccessfully, to bring her into the family business. She is a second-generation genetically perfected super-nerd.
She was happily living her life, having three third-generation genetically perfected super-nerds herself, but then through a series of events (unfortunate and fortunate), she officially joined The Book Connection – her mother’s publishing and packaging company – as the Digital Director, to create the e-publishing division in 2011. Her computer skills, willingness to help authors, love of literature, no-nonsense attitude and quick wit has helped shepherd many authors through the maze of digital publishing.
Through her work with E-BookBuilders, Deena Rae has been able to meet authors and writers from all over the world and in every genre imaginable. She has a biting wit, obscure sense of humor, awareness of the absurd, and a love of literature all which led to the creation of Bluebonnets, Bagpipes and Books, the #NSFW publishing discussion podcast she produces and hosts with Janet Wrenn and Peter Burnett. Her no-nonsense attitude makes for some hilarious discussions and plenty of “Oh my God, did she really just say that?” moments. Sometimes it is as if there is no filter between her brain and her mouth. But if she likes you she tries to be nice – sometimes. Deena also has the safe-for-everyone author interview show, B3’s Bookworm. You can find her most hours of everyday attached to her computer either researching, tweeting on her 6 accounts, posting on her different Facebook timelines and pages, coding e-books for her fabulous friends/clients or with her nose buried in her Kindle reading.
If you are serious about publishing your own work, or just kicking the idea around, head over to Amazon and download the ebook Navigating the World of E-Book Publishing, available exclusively on Amazon. I am also available on many social media platforms and you can track me down that way if you have a question about e-publishing.