I’m in the middle of reading a great story. I long to be BFFs with the heroine. She’s snarky, highly entertaining, and makes me laugh out loud at the most inopportune times. But there’s one problem…
When I’m not swayed by the author’s wonderful, witty dialogue; pant-inducing love scenes; instant, image-producing descriptions; I’m reminded that this story has no point.
I’ve been presented with many plausible plot points, but nothing definitive. The heroine has no goal (nothing clearly stated in any case), no motivation, and no conclusive conflict.
As a reader, I have nothing to focus on. Nothing to worry over. Nothing to anticipate. And if it wasn’t for the above praised aspects, nothing to make me turn the page.
Goal. Motivation. Conflict. These are the three most important parts of a story. It’s the writer’s job to make sure each character has all three.
Even the bike messenger who delivers a package to the heroine should have a GMC. The reader doesn’t need to hear it, (unless that will move the story forward) but those three elements will breathe life into that insubstantial character.
It’ll be the reason why he hands over the wrapped box with a smile because he just found out he was accepted into NYU. Or with a grunt because a nail found it’s way into his bike tire and he won’t be able to make the rest of his deliveries on time. Or hoping for a tip because if he doesn’t get any money his baby girl will go without food tonight.
Goal. Motivation. Conflict. It drives each character. Drives the story. Should be a driving point in each scene.
I highly recommend reading Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction novel. She fabulously explains each component and, bonus!, gives you a handy chart to use.