Debra Dixon recently gave a workshop for two of my writing groups, Pikes Peak Romance Writers and Pikes Peak Writers. My blog partners went nuts. Tell us what you learned, they wanted to know. How may blogs do I have, I replied.
For anyone who doesn't know who Debra Dixon is, she is the author of one of the staples of craft writing, Goal Motivation & Conflict. Without GMC, you don't have a novel, short story, joke, what have you. GMC is your foundation.
Debra started out the workshop doing two things: Having us set up two worksheets analyzing the Wizard of Oz and our own Works in Progress (WIP). Personally, I love this form of teaching because while we can see the GMC of Dorothy, the Wizard, the Scarecrow, Lion, etc. when pointed out to us, it's not as easy to define in our own WIPs.
From this stage, Debra went on to show GMC, emphasizing you should show don't tell these integral parts of your story. Conflicts get complex, not complicated, she explained. If your character is the same on page 400 as he was on page one, you haven't done your job.
She also taught that goals are actionable, e.g. world peace is a dream; disarming a nuclear warhead is actionable. Conflict equals disruption. Further we want to anticipate the conflicts to come, and a point that really helped this writer is that conflicts and goals can change as the story progresses.
Using other craft mentors such as Christopher Vogler's The Hero's Journey, Mythologist's Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth, Debra combined these techniques with her own to explain external and internal goal, motivation and conflict.
She used movies as examples, making it painfully clear to this writer that I don't watch enough movies. Perhaps one movie I have to see after Ms. Dixon's workshop is The Hunted with Tommy Lee Jones and Benecio Del Toro. In this workshop, Debra explained the two main protagonists' GMC in two succinct phrases: Hunt to Kill, Hunt to Save.
I also loved that she pointed out our characters' GMCs will be occurring at different stages in the book, e.g. not everyone's story begins at the same point in time. I appreciated that she isn't black and white in how she expects us to to use her book and charts. She respects the writer's process. For instance if you need to know where you're going from start to finish of your book, great! However, if you're more of an organic writer (Panster), GMC is a gut check to make sure you're incorporating these critical components in your story.
I could go on and on about what I learned in Debra Dixon's workshop. This is mainly what I got out of it, which is a whole lot. Above all, I was inspired. For anyone who has an opportunity to see Debra Dixon in person, or attend one of her workshops, and is wondering if her class is worth the expense, consider this. With the exception of a short lunch and two breaks, she never stopped teaching. Further, she puts Goal, Motivation and Conflict into perspective; Debra Dixon makes writing make sense.
From the book: GMC: Goal Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon
Check out www.BelleBooks.com for Debra's latest adventure in publishing.)
P.O. Box 172342
Memphis, TN 38187