Monday, March 14, 2016

Debra Dixon, GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT, and Plotting

This last weekend I was lucky enough to attend a workshop headed by Debra Dixon and hosted by the Southwest Florida Romance Writers.

For those of you who are writers, you probably know who Debra Dixon is. She wrote GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT, from Gryphon Books for Writers. I consider this to be an essential text for writers, and especially those writers just starting out.

When I first started writing fiction, I was finishing my BS in Geology, starting my Masters in Writing Popular Fiction, and perpetually broke. Buying GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT at that time, a hardcover book at $20 a pop + shipping, was a splurge for me. But I had heard it referenced time and time again by writers, so I took the plunge and bought it.

Thank the void I did!

No writing book is a bible. No one book will give you all the answers. As writers, we’re all looking for a formula, a magic bullet, a 1, 2, 3 step-by-step guide to best seller fiction.

That does not exist. (Sadly!)

However, this book is one of the VERY BEST tools you can add to your writing toolkit.
I have read it cover to cover at least 4 times over my writing career so far. That is the max number of times I have read any writing book.

What I love about this book:

  • Basic language, very approachable. It is not wrapped up in theory.
  • Excellent examples that perfectly illustrate the concepts Dixon is preaching.
  •   Worksheets. I’m a sucker for something tangible I can take away from a book, and Dixon’s GMC worksheets are excellent.

I have used Dixon’s GMC worksheet on every character, minor or major, in every book I’ve written or worked on, since I first read GMC. It’s not a magic formula, but it is a great jumping off point.

But, I’m not a plotter, I’m a pantser! This book is useless to me!”

Not true! Dixon takes no concrete stance on whether you need to do this first, mid-book, or when revisions start. She just lays out a basic formula that resonates with the human experience (based on Joseph Campbell’s and Christopher Volgler’s works on storytelling and myth).

The idea of GMC is worth considering no matter what stage of the draft you’re at.

The book is now (finally) available in ebook, if you want that format. Otherwise, if you want the physical book, like me, you want to go directly to the publisher’s website: It’s cheapest there.

 Now here I am, a decade after I started out as a very poor college student writer, and you can bet your sweet bippy that I STILL have that book, and that I very proudly, like the fangirl that I am, got it signed by Debra Dixon.

Go Forth. Read GMC. And Conquer. 


  1. Debra put me on the right path to finishing the latest of my Wounded Warrior novels. I'd been struggling with it for months and her seminar did the trick. Her guidelines are essential to great plotting.

  2. I'll attest to you using the heck out of that GMC book as long as I've known you as a writer. It must be an incredibly useful guide/reference. :)