Monday, February 16, 2009

Goal, Motivation, Conflict

When dissecting the elements of a story these three ingredients are vital: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Every character in the story has thier own agenda, their own story. This is a big part of the plot, the set up for the climax, and how the story gets resolved.

Goal is what the character wants. This is the foundation of the story.

Little Red Riding Hoods'goal was to bring goodies to grandma. Everything that follows stems from this goal. The why brings us to motivation. Her motivation was to visit granny as she was sick. Red wanted to make her feel better.

Goal and motivation often go hand in hand. The conflict takes the form of the wolf. Wofie's goal was an easy meal, his motivation came after his first visit with Red. She told him granny was sick and she was bringing goodies to her. He likes goodies. Conflict is what keeps the character from reaching her goal. (eating granny will not make her well.)

Wolfie's conflict comes in the form of a hunter. He is a secondary character, but an important one. We aren't sure what his goal was initially, but in the end, it became the rescue of our heroines.

Conflict often comes in threes. The first obstacle: The wolf stops Red in the woods.

The climax: the height of the action-the most pressing event. Wolf has replaced granny and passes himself off as granny to fool Red.

The black moment: the point where all seems lost. Red realizes the wolf has done away with granny. (What big teeth you have. She ain't the brightest sconce on the wall.)

The third trial: the wolf now goes after Red. (The better to eat you!)

Knowing the GMC of your characters helps you create conflict and subplots.

Perhaps granny and the wolf ageed to trap red with a ruse of her illness. The hunter, suspicous after several girls disappeared, track the wolf and saved Red.

Granny studies a rogue pack of wolves from her hidden post in the forest. Red discovers a werewolf pack infiltrating the other wolves. Maybe granny is a werewolf herself and the wolf threatens Red so granny will give him control of the pack.

In a plot twist, you discover Red is the villain. Offing granny and her animal sanctuary will allow Red to gain her lands and build a condo. ( We assume the wolf hid granny to keep her safe rather than eat her.)

The resolution occurs when the hunter rescues Red. (depending on the version), cuts open the wolf and frees granny. All the story questions are answered.

Happy ending!

(Unless you're the wolf.)


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