Thursday, August 23, 2018

Book Review: “Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction”

“Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction” Debra Dixon

WIBA? Yup

Okay, yes. Writing conflict in scenes is difficult for me. You might have an easy time of it. Lucky you. I go through hours, sometimes days, of conflict trying to write conflict. I saw a great recommendation for “Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction” (GMC) when I had money to send Amazon. Glad I did. Ms. Dixon does a great job of explaining how to map out internal and external conflict in your characters and how to link them together. I learned a lot and recommend the book. Buy it. Really.

Instead of another couple paragraphs gushing about Ms. Dixon’s work and repeatedly suggesting you buy the book, though, I’ll show you how it plays out. In TDW.1416.02 there’s a female character mentioned in passing. She is introduced in TDW.1429.01 and you get some of her backstory, involving her father, in TDW.1429.02. Zoliana “Zo” Chemin is not a woman to trifle with. In TDW.1429.03 Dede McKenna refers to Zo as “Blaster Lady”. But we never meet Zo’s dad. Zo herself referred to him as a regular guy who became a hero for love. For her. Who is Harold Chemin? Even I didn’t know until I put him through the GMC process.


Character: Harold Chemin

Description: Worried father

GMC Blurb: Harold's daughter needs help but he doesn't have the money, skills, or space travel experience to get to her.

External Internal
Goal Rescue daughter Overcome distance with estranged daughter
Motivation Act as should Driven by love
Conflict Lack of skills or resources Scared of everything it takes to succeed

[208.155.0917] Betzala's desk, Abunt LLC, Lunion

"No thank you." Harold repeated.

Betzala's typing was excruciatingly slow. Harold still had to find the ship and convince the engineer to take him on. She hadn't sounded like she believed he could do the work. He wasn't sure he could do the work. Betzala was dragging out the exit process and Harold would miss his appointment.

The door to Betzala's office slammed open. Harold had seen Johanic coming. Impossible to miss two meters of bullying line foreman stacked a meter wide. Even if Betzala hadn't talked the boss into glass walls for her office three years ago, Harold would have felt the floor vibrate as Johanic stomped his way forward.

"Waddyamean, you little puke?" Johanic bellowed. "Get back to scrubbing press number four. Oil it good this time!"

Harold was trapped. Betzala's typing magically improved as she gave Harold a wicked grin. Whatever she was entering into his record would end his career at Abunt and any of the other manufacturing companies around. Probably on the entire planet.

Harold's hands shook. His heart hurt. The doctor told him months ago to eat better. The doctor never explained how to afford the food Harold was supposed to eat. The company retirement accounts weren't doing well and demanding another five point three percent in contributions just to stay solvent. After seventeen years of contributions Harold had nothing to show.

He unconsciously wiped the sweat off the top of his head. His hands shook.

She had come to him earlier, it had seemed such a great idea. The sun had glistened as she skipped along the sidewalk into his view. Yellow print sundress and boundless giggles.

Harold wished the memory would return. His quest was about to end by heart attack in the HR office. He would run out of time before he ran out of time.

The memory of her arms wrapped around his chest. "Peekaboo." She whispered in his ear. She was a little older. A little taller. The sundress still fit. Hair brushed straight and smile as beautiful as ever.

His chest relaxed. Harold looked up at Johanic. "I'm resigning. Sorry."

"You're gonna get your stupid self back to scrubbing the press." Johanic towered over Harold.

More sweat covered Harold's bald head. The worn line of hair around his ears dripped. He smelled the flower she had brought. He stood.

"I'm leaving. Please move aside, I need to be elsewhere. Now." Harold stood. His hands shook and he gripped the back of the chair.

"I'm going to stand right here until you get it into your thick skull that you do what I say." Johanic said. "And I'll take this waste of my valuable time out of your pay."

Harold forced his eyes to blink away the sweat. He looked at Betzala. His hands rested on the back of the chair he had just vacated.

"Please let Missus Abunt know I expect my full pay to be in my accounts by fourteen standard." Harold forced himself to breath. "Otherwise I will retain a lawyer to discuss significant safety violations and union financial malfeasance perpetrated by her latest boyfriend. Mister Johanic is an idiot and can pay for the glass."

"What glass?" Betzala said. Her jaw dropped as Harold picked up the chair and threw it through the glass wall.

Harold looked at the shocked faces outside Betzala's office as a meter long fractured segment of glass shattered at his feet.

"Sorry for the noise." He said as he stepped into the hallway. He sat the chair upright. "And the mess."

Another crash behind him. Harold strode to the "Exit" sign and ignored Johanic's bellows and Betzala's screaming. His mind focused as the yellow sundress clad memory skipped down the corridor in front of him.

"Daddy's on his way, sweetheart."

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