On Writing Conflict (GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict — The ABCs of Writing) by Tinthia Clemant

On Writing Conflict by Tinthia Clemant (GMC_ Goal, Motivation, and Conflict — The ABCs of Writing)Welcome to Tinthia Clemant’s third post in her three-part series on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict — The ABCs of Writing. This one focuses on your character’s and story’s conflict.


Welcome to the final installment in my three-part series on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in your storytelling. 

So far you’ve learned that a character’s goal is the thing she or he plans on getting. Notice I didn’t write what the character wants. Wants are desires. Goals are plans to achieve or gain something what your character desires. Remember, goals are concrete.

“Remember, goals are concrete.” 

Let’s say Amy buys a flower shop.

Amy’s desire

Amy’s desire has always been to own a flower shop and now she does.

After a character’s goal, comes her motivation. Why did Amy buy the flower shop?

What force drove Amy to buy the flower shop?

What force drove Amy to buy the flower shop?

As with all character motivations, Amy’s motivation has to make sense for the story. If she is allergic to flowers, buying a flower shop would be foolish. 

Make sure you write motivations that drive the story and keep the reader engaged. (I wrote about character motivations here.)

On Writing Conflict: The Third Piece to the GMC Triad

Next comes the third piece to the GMC triad: Conflict. 

These are the roadblocks you, the author, are going to throw in front of your character that will threaten to keep her from obtaining her goal or holding on to her goal. 

For example, Amanda could open a flower shop across the street from Amy’s and sells her flowers for half the price. Competition!

Amanda sells flowers for half the price as Amy’s. Bitch.

Amanda sells flowers for half the price as Amy’s. Bitch.

According to Debra Dixon, author of GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, The Building Blocks of Good Fiction (Kindle/Print, conflict is why your character can’t have, or hold on to, what she wants. 

“Conflict is what makes a story worth reading.”

Conflict is what makes a story worth reading. If Amy is happy-whappy with her flower shop and never has to work hard to keep it afloat, you don’t have much of a story.

Life is good and Amy is happy. Boring!

Life is good and Amy is happy. Boring!

Without struggles and hardships, your story will lag, which is a nice way to state your story will be boring. Plant some land mines for your character to step on.

On Writing Conflict: It Must Make Sense 

As with motivations, your conflicts must make sense. 

For many new authors, adding conflict to a story is the most challenging part of writing because they never fleshed out the character’s motivation. 

Once you know why your character is working to achieve a goal, you’ll have a better handle on the types of conflicts you can use, and your readers will thank you by buying your books.

Happy writing.


Editor’s Note: Thank you so much, Tinthia, for your GMC series. I look forward to more insights from you on Writer’s Fun Zone.



Author avatar, Tinthia ClemantAuthor of The Summer of Annah series, Tinthia Clemant lives in a secluded spot on the Concord River in Massachusetts. Her companions include a black Labrador/Coonhound named Harlee; Shadow, an elderly black cat who still rocks at catching mice that have wandered into the house; a few hundred wild Mallards; assorted turtles, songbirds, snakes; and hawks, two Great Blue herons, and an American bald eagle.

The Seasons of Annah (2 book series) by Tinthia Clemant

Besides writing, she enjoys baking, gardening, reading (of course), painting and photography, laughing, and movies (the more explosions the better). Tinthia is an ice cream aficionado and insists that Ben and Jerry are the most perfect men ever created. She inherited my father’s temper and her mother’s view on life: It’s meant to be lived, embraced, savored, inhaled, and not given back until every last drop of wonder is claimed.  If you visit Tinthia, make sure you bring a bottle of bourbon and, of course, ice cream. Her favorite flavor is Chunky Monkey.

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