Thursday, October 5, 2023

A goal is a wish turned into action: advice on plotting #amwriting #writing #Writetip

I've been doing some manuscript critiques lately. (See my rates and recommendations here). 

I often wind up discussing plot in terms of Goal – Motivation – Conflict.


·         What do they want to achieve? (Goal)

·         Why is it important? (Motivation)

·         Why is it difficult? (Conflict) It should be very difficult (as appropriate for the age of characters and readers)!

The motivation determines the stakes. Stakes don’t need to be physical; good stakes may be the risk of losing friends, family, love, dignity, reputation, livelihood… but you need a penalty for failure! To keep the plot active and dramatic, make sure all three parts (Goal-Motivation-Conflict) are clear in every scene. The reader knows what the character wants, why it's important to them, and why it will be difficult to get.

And goals are not wishes.

A wish may be passive. “I hope this thing happens.” A goal is a wish turned into action. “I will do this thing to try to get this result.” I hope I will make new friends is a wish. I will do X in order to make new friends is a goal.

Remember, its Goal-Motivation-Conflict, not Wish-Motivation-Conflict.

I delve into this and much more in my online, self-paced Advanced Plotting course.

Advanced Plotting—Keep Those Pages Turning: Learn advanced techniques that will make a decent plot dynamic. Start with a “grab you by the throat” opening, pack the plot full, maximize your pacing, and use cliffhanger chapter endings to drive the story forward. Learn more here.

You can also sign up for:

Educational Publishing: Make Money Writing for the Educational Market: Do you want to make money from writing? Are you willing and able to write on assignment if given a topic, word count, grade level, and deadline? Then you may be perfect for educational work for hire! Get it here.

You Can Write for Children: Learn about children’s publishing—opportunities and challenges, genres, age ranges, book and magazine markets, and resources to keep you going. Learn more here.

Chris Eboch is the author of over 100 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure used in many schools; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Felony Melanie series featuring the characters from the movie Sweet Home Alabama as teenagers. 

Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting. Learn more at or her Amazon page.

Chris writes mystery, romance, and romantic suspense novels for adults as Kris Bock. 
Kris Bock writes novels of mystery, suspense, and romance.
In the Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona and tackles the challenges of turning fifty. 
Kris’s Furrever Friends cat cafe sweet romance series. features the employees and customers at a cat café. 
In the Accidental Billionaire Cowboys series, a Texas ranching family wins a fortune in the lottery, which causes as many problems as it solves. 
Sign up for the Kris Bock Mystery and Romance newsletter and get a free Accidental Detective short story and bonus material, a free 30-page sweet romance set in the world of the Furrever Friends cat café, and a printable copy of the recipes mentioned in the cat café novels.

Kris also writes a series with her brother, scriptwriter Douglas J Eboch, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie Sweet Home Alabama. The Felony Melanie series follows the crazy antics of Melanie, Jake, and their friends a decade before the events of the movie. Sign up for the romantic comedy newsletter to get a short story preview, or find the books at Amazon US or All E-book retailers.