Writing Tips & Tools

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lesson 2: Multidimensional Characters

by Bonnie Calhoun

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel.

What I am going to endeavor to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. This will by no means suffice as an alternative to reading the book...or the workbook. I hope it piques your appetite to buy the books. They are invaluable reading and reference!

Today's lesson is in Section One: multidimensional Characters.

In well-constructed fiction, multidimensional characters keep us guessing as to what they are going to do or think...In other words there is always more of them to come! Plot events by themselves can bring out a new side to your character.

How many sides of your current protagonist do you reveal? Is he/she multidimensional only in your mind or actually on the page? Take a careful look at your manuscript. On which specific pages do you show another side to your protagonist's personality.

Highlight the passages. How many are there? List the page numbers. How many extra dimensions to your character do you really show?

Hint: The more dimensions your character has, the more involving your novel will be!

Step 1. What is your protagonist's defining quality? What is their most predominant trait? What kind of person are they?

Step 2. What is the opposite of that quality?

Step 3. Write a paragraph of your protagonist demonstrating the opposite quality. Include this paragraph in your novel showing your character's conflicting sides.

Do these three steps multiple times to open up extra dimensions to your character.


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