As you know, I am working on a novel about Gina Caruso, a young superstar Texas litigator. I’ve been working on it now for over a year. As I learn more, I make edits. I am now writing version 7 in Scrivener.
I learned early in my writing that Gina must have a flaw and the flaw must make it more difficult for her to achieve her goal. If she overcomes the flaw, she will achieve the goal. If not, then the novel is a tragedy.
There is a concept in writing novels called GMC which stands for Goal Motivation and Conflict. There is even a great book on how to do it: GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction. Here also is an article summarizing the concept: GOAL, MOTIVATION, AND CONFLICT.
As you will see the goal, motivation and conflict can, and usually is, both external and internal.
If Gina’s goal is to supplant her father as the top trial lawyer in Texas, what do you think readers would like for her external and internal motivation to be? What should be her flaw and how can she overcome it? Help me out. Share your ideas.
The ideas I get for the stories I write are based largely on what I have observed practicing law and coaching lawyers. Although, I confess I never met a lawyer quite like Gina. I envision that she looks something like this woman.
One of the most important things in writing is getting to know your characters. As lawyers, one of the most important things in your law practice is getting to know your clients. In my client development coaching one of the most important thing is getting to know the lawyers I coach.
I recently took two on-line courses, one of which was Romance Writing. I never dreamed of writing a romance novel, but I found the course helpful for my other writing. At this point I am considering making Gina’s story a romance novel, just for the fun of it.
In working on learning more about Gina Caruso, I found an incredibly interesting professional paper: Super Women Lawyers: A Study of Character Strengths. I urge all of you to read it. Here is one glimpse at what makes lawyers happy.
The five character strengths most highly associated with well-being, in rank order, were the heart strengths of hope, zest, gratitude, curiosity and love.
The researcher interviewed 16 outstanding women lawyers, ranging in age from early 30s to late 50s. Interestingly, 12 of the 16 offered one key trait accounting for their success. What do you suppose it was?
…each of the women interviewed initially offered a spontaneous assessment of what factor or factors was most responsible for their professional success. Mirroring the preponderance of heart strengths in their BST results, positive relationships with others was the most commonly mentioned success factor, with 12 out of 16 crediting relationships with other people, whether with clients, co-workers or other lawyers, for helping them move ahead.
I came up with an idea for a second novel. In my second novel, my protagonist will be a lawyer whose flaw is she is so unselfish that she never takes time to focus on herself. She is incredibly successful, but not very happy.
She is a 43 year old law firm partner and single mother of two children who are just about grown. One is already gone to college and the other will go in a year.
She is stressed to the max in part because she is giving, giving, giving and not receiving. She is also feeling lonely because her second son will soon be gone.
What she really likes to do that has nothing to do with work. I am thinking she might be an artist, or a musician. Do you have an idea for me on what might be her outside interest?
Only by getting rid of that stress and replenishing the batteries and the spirit can she have the energy she needs to prosper and enjoy life.
If I decide to make this a romance novel, my character could meet a man who is able to get her to focus at least some of her time on what she truly loves doing. He might also convey to her that she is a champion and with the proper focus and encouragement he helps empower her and show her how she can have greater enjoyment in the process.
Have you ever known a lawyer like my character?
Do you want to help me develop this character? If so, give me ideas for her first and last name. Also, here are some questions from my Romance Writing Class that will help me get to know this character.
- Life Goals
- Biggest Fear
- Favorite Childhood Memory
- Worst Childhood Memory
- What Does Mother Mean to Her
- What Does Father Mean to Her
- Worst Habit
- Past Relationships
- Religious Values
- Biggest Secret
- Biggest Regret
- Greatest Strengths
- Greatest Weaknesses
- Harboring any secrets or secret shame
- If she could change one decision in the past what would it be?
I wish I had taken the on-line writing courses earlier in my career, although it is hard to picture when I would have had time.
What value would these courses be for a practicing lawyer? When I am working to develop characters and figure out everything I can about them including their goals, motivation and challenges, I become more interested in figuring out the same things about the people around me.