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Unlocking the power of goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes (GMCS)

Unlocking the power of goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes (GMCS) Unlocking the power of goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes (GMCS)
In this article:

    As writers, we all strive to create stories that captivate our readers from the very first page. Whether you’re writing a Hot Encounter, a Para-Romantasy, or a Werewolf story, the key to keep your audience hooked lies in mastering the art of storytelling. And at the heart of every great story are four essential elements: Goals, Motivation, Conflict, and Stakes (GMCS).

    In Story School Season 2, Episode 01, Compelling storytelling: Goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes, learn about these four key elements from Wattpad HQ Content Expert Harry Hanson. Take the learnings and apply them to your stories to create your next big hit!

    Understanding the Core Elements


    Every character, from the valiant hero to the cunning villain, has something they desire. These desires, or goals, serve as the driving force behind their actions. Whether it’s winning the heart of their beloved or seeking revenge against an enemy, a character’s goal provides direction and purpose to the narrative.


    Why does a character pursue these goals? Motivation delves into the deeper layers of a character, exploring the reasons behind their actions. It could stem from past experiences, personal beliefs, or even external pressures. Understanding a character’s motivation adds depth and complexity to their journey, making them more relatable to readers.


    No story is complete without obstacles to overcome. Conflict is what propels the narrative forward, testing the determination of our characters at every turn. There are two types of conflict: internal and external. Internal conflict is when a character’s beliefs get in their own way, and may show up as a struggle against self-doubt. External conflict is a struggle against other characters (antagonist), nature, or society, such as a clash with an enemy. Ultimately, conflict adds tension and excitement to the story, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. 


    What are the consequences of failure? Stakes raise the stakes (pun intended) by highlighting the importance of achieving a character’s goals. It could be the fate of a kingdom hanging in the balance or the risk of losing everything they hold dear. Stakes add urgency and significance to the character’s journey, compelling readers to invest emotionally in the outcome.

    Crafting engaging narratives

    By incorporating these four key elements - Goals, Motivation, Conflict, and Stakes (GMCS) - into your storytelling, you can create narratives that resonate with readers on a deeper level. 

    Start by defining your character’s goals and motivations, ensuring they are clear and compelling from the outset. Then, introduce conflicts that challenge your characters and force them to confront their deepest fears and insecurities. Whether internal or external, conflict is essential in driving the plot forward and keeping readers engaged.

    Finally, raise the stakes by highlighting the potential consequences of failure. By showing readers what’s at stake, you create a sense of urgency and tension that propels them through the story, desperate to discover how it all unfolds.

    In the world of webnovels, mastering the art of GMCS is essential for crafting compelling narratives that keep readers coming back for more. By understanding the goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes driving your characters, you can create stories that resonate with readers on a deep level, keeping them eagerly turning the pages until the very end. 

    So, the next time you sit down to write, remember to keep GMCS in mind and watch as your stories come to life in ways you never thought possible.

    Goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes are the building blocks of plot. Continue your learning with the art of plotting.

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