Saturday, April 20, 2013

Writing A Novel - Revision

A couple of months ago I enrolled in an online Revision workshop with a bunch of other people writing a novel over at Savvy Authors. Due to my wonky health, I was unable to keep up with the work all the way through, but even the little I learned from the beginning lessons was invaluable. Cathy Yardley was our instructor and the first thing she asked us to do was to go through our entire manuscript and write our GMCD for every single scene.

This was overwhelming and considerably enlightening. It is the reason that I realized it was time for me to move on to a new novel. Through the GMCD lens my in-expertise was glaringly obvious. I discovered by the end of that process that, while my story was okay, the conflict wasn't engaging enough.

What is GMCD?

If you are like I was when I first started the course, then you may have seen this "GMCD" thing thrown around on the Internet, but you still have no idea what it is. Here's how GMCD works (my cliffs notes version):
  • declare who's POV the scene is in.
  • G - GOAL: what is the goal for that character in that scene?
  • M - MOTIVATION: what is the character's motivation to do whatever he/she is doing?
  • C - CONFLICT: what is the conflict in the scene?
  • D/R -DISASTER?RESOLUTION: what is the disaster at the end of the scene that keeps us hanging on for the next scene escalating the conflict? Or, what is the resolution of the conflict?
This is a labor intensive project to undertake for an entire novel, but looking at your story through this bare bones outline, without all those words and sentences you fell in love with, can truly show you what you may need to work on.

What Did I Learn? 
In each of my scenes my goal and motivation was clear, but the conflicts were oftentimes weak and I think I had more resolutions than disasters. It's just something I have to work on. I ultimately stepped away from that novel because I was too attached to the story as it was. In order to escalate the conflict to the point necessary to hold my audience's interest would transform the entire storyline in a way that I am currently unable to do. Instead, after two years of battling with the same story, I decided to take this newly understood information to help me with a brand new project.

Where To Learn More

I wish I had it in me to go through the entire course. However, all is not lost! Cathy Yardley's two books that review her process, and she has an awesome blog called Rock Your Writing. If you are battling with a project and you are not sure what exactly is missing, I recommend you take a stab at this process to see if it reveals something to you!

Thanks for reading!
What has revision revealed to you?
Do you have a process for revising that has been successful for you?


  1. I've never heard of that before, but it makes a lot of sense. :-)

  2. Hey Ernie,

    Thanks for stopping by. I had heard of GMCD before the workshop, but in the sense that I saw a lot of writers throwing around these letters, but I had no idea what they were all about. Once I got into it, I found it really amazing. My description is lacking in the clarity that Cathy Yardley provided us, so I do recommend that you check out her stuff if you are interested in trying it out yourself!

  3. Thanks so much, Michael. Since my health is always so unpredictable I know to be at 100% absorbancy rate whenever I am learning anything! I hope to delve deeper into this technique with my current WIP once I am done with the first draft.