Saturday, September 24, 2011
Review: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction
Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a useful book, but it also seemed rather basic. I wish I'd read it back when I was new to this whole writing thing. As it stands, I'll get some use out of it, but not as much as I would've in initially figuring out my process.
The book talks about Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, which are the basic building blocks of writing fiction. All characters have these three elements in every story, and Dixon uses examples from popular movies like Wizard of Oz, The Fugitive, and Casablanca to illustrate how it's used.
The trouble with using these already-existing media is that it makes one wonder what one needs to read this book for, if those successful movies were written without such a guide.
Also in this book, Dixon reiterates the need to made Goals and Motivation explicit so that the reader can understand them, and how there needs to be both internal and external elements of all three. Perhaps for YA it should be obvious and visible, but I hate having things smacking me over the head while I'm reading. She talks about knowing the rules before one can break them, but I don't agree that it should be a rule in the first place.
This book does have quite a few good tips on how to save a sagging narrative and to prevent having the book thrown across the room by characters acting in contradictory ways, and I would recommend it to beginning writers. The copy I read had a few spelling issues and some its/it's problems, and the copyright indicated it was self-published, so I'd also take it with a grain of salt.
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