As Elizabeth Michels mentioned in her post last week, we had the opportunity to attend the fabulous Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This was my third year attending this event, and I cannot echo E. Michels advice enough on this one; if you haven’t been and you can afford to go…GO! The networking is invaluable, there are workshops for every stage of your career, and let’s not forget the dancing!
Each year, I usually find one or two things during the conference that I must share. It could be anything – inappropriate pitch room behavior, writer life epiphanies, manuscript breakthroughs, anything! This year, my must shares are both craft related, and both came from Deb Dixon’s fantastical Goal, Motivation, & Conflict workshop. Again – if you have never gone to this and can in any way find the means to…DO IT! You won’t be sorry!
Must Share #1
In its most basic, simplistic form, GMC boils down into one simple statement:
My character wants __________ because ___________, but ____________.
So, you’re probably saying right now, “Uh…Duh, Jenna! Everybody knows that!” And I did, I promise. But with all the other elements we must weave into our stories, it’s pretty easy to lose sight of this sometimes. So before you begin, jot this down. Keep it handy. Tape it to the top of your laptop. And whenever you get lost in your scenes, read this and maybe you can find your way back out.
Oh….and don’t forget that each one of those blanks has both external and internal answers that need to be addressed. It’s not enough to say, “My character wants a cheeseburger because she’s hungry, but McDonald’s is closed.”
Must Share #2
“Find the line your character won’t cross, and then ask them to cross that line.” – Deb Dixon
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this line. I mean, who wants to root for a protagonist that gets off easy? It has to be hard, otherwise there’s no story. But remember that both the line and the action to get across the line have to be believable. A guy who’s severely claustrophobic isn’t going to go inside a cave to look for a ten dollar bill, but he would go inside to find his missing ten year old daughter.
Think about this when you’re building your characters. What is your characters limit and why? What would it take to make them go beyond it? How can you build a character arc that will give them the tools to rise to the occasion when the time comes?
So, there you have it. A lot of you may be like me and already do a lot of this without thinking about it. But it never hurts to know you’re on the right track – and know where to start looking when you derail!
Did you go to M&M? What were your Must Shares?