Please welcome my special guest, author Cathy Yardley
New Year’s tends to be a time for resolutions and bucket lists. It’s exciting – there’s a whole empty year ahead of you, full of promise. This could be the year that you (finally) do “the thing.”
The “thing” can be like a mirage: always on the horizon, never getting any closer. Which is why resolutions tend to derail somewhere around March at the latest – and why bucket lists remain unchecked.
“This year I’m going to sell that series!”
“This year, I’m going to Paris!”
“This year… This year… This year…”
Check the GMC
The term “GMC” stands for goal-motivation-conflict, and it’s the foundation for any story. Your characters need to be clear about what they want. They need to have a really good reason for what they want. And then, they’ve got to overcome challenges to get what they want.
Let’s say your character wants to climb Mount Everest to prove to herself that she’s not a failure. What if she’s never failed at anything? What if her family is consistently, unconditionally supportive? It makes no sense for her to want what she wants if that’s the case… and we, as readers, won’t be rooting for her because we won’t know why what she’s doing is important.
Writing my life
To me, pursuing The Thing isn’t any different. If I’m serious about getting something, I need to know why I want it…. and the why behind that.
Do I really want to go to Paris? Well, why? And what’s the why behind the why?
Is it because I want to do something I haven’t done it in years? Is it because I want an adventure?
If that’s the case… is Paris the only way to do that? Are there other mini-adventures I can have in the meantime that don’t take quite as much planning, time and money?
Is it because I adore Paris – the art, the cafes, the whole nine yards? Again, is there a smaller way to start infusing that in my life? Some street cafes I could visit? A French restaurant? Some street art fairs?
What if nothing but The Thing will do?
That’s when I’d move to the next step: conflict.
Going back to the Everest example. If the heroine decides to climb the mountain, and then in the next chapter she simply goes over there and does it… well, that’s a pretty boring story. There have to be obstacles. That’s where the story lives.
The best stories are when the heroine is in a tough spot, and the writer manages to come up with an unexpected but completely plausible solution.
Doing The Thing isn’t any different. There’s a solution – if the motivation is strong enough, then the solution is there. It may not look at all like you’d expect, but it’s there.
This year, I’ve got a series coming out called The Player’s Club, from Harlequin Blaze. In it, the members go through a hazing where they’re innocently asked what they’d do if they had one month left to live – and then, they have one month to do those things if they want to join the Club. It’s a lot of fun, but it also got me thinking. What would I do?
For the past two years, I’ve wanted to go to a creativity conference. It’s not cheap. I have writing deadlines, I teach classes, and I’ve got editing and promotion clients. Oh, and I’ve got a five year old.
I’ll be going in July. And I’m so happy, it’s ridiculous. It took some hoop jumping and a lot of juggling, but it’s already been worth it, just to know that I can.
What about you? What’s on your bucket list? And what’s your Thing?
After years in the corporate world, Cathy Yardley managed to tunnel her way out of her cubicle with a spoon she’d stolen from the break room. She now writes urban fantasy and romance, provides editing services, and generally celebrates her freedom from the cube farm in an undisclosed location somewhere near Seattle, WA.