A couple of weeks ago I stepped waaaay outside my writing comfort zone and signed up for a playwriting course taught by award-winning Calgary playwright and dramaturg Caroline Russell-King. Writing for the stage is very different from anything I’ve attempted before, but I believe that anything that challenges the writing brain cells has got to be good for developing one’s craft. Fortunately, Caroline creates a very safe emotional space in which to work, experiment and learn.
The one thing I love about taking writing classes is that although you may ‘hear’ the same lessons over and over again – eg plot structure, character development – sometimes a teacher will use a word, phrase or expression that turns the light bulb on and allows you to reflect on something in a different way.
Using the acronym GMOTS, Caroline Russell-King did just that, forcing me to examine various elements of my plot as a whole rather than individually. Like most people, I’m familiar with Goal, Motivation and Conflict, but I like how Caroline Russell-King breaks it down even further.
G – GOAL – Your protagonist wants something.
M – MOTIVATION- Must be High.
O – OBSTACLES – List the obstacles the protagonist will have to face.
T – TACTICS – What tactics does the protagonist use to overcome the obstacles.
S – STAKES – What are the consequences if the protagonist fails to achieve his/her goal? These MUST be high.
And the real zinger?
Once you’ve worked all that out for your protagonist, repeat the process for your ANTAGONIST. In doing so, you’ll discover hidden layers of conflict in both your protagonist and antagonist.
And conflict is drama, right?