Writing Tips & Tools

Monday, July 16, 2007

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: Larger-Than-Life-Character Qualities.

Hey the guy is talking about zingers. Now this is right up my alley! He's not quick on the draw with retorts but he's happy that one of the pleasures of writing a novel is that an hour later you can still go back and add one in! Until the manuscript is turned in, there's plenty of time to slot those zingers in.

Zingers, barbs, shots across the bow, those things that you hear that you wished you had said...How do you build a larger-than-life character in your current manuscript? What does your protagonist say, do, and think that he, she, or we, would never (well in most cases I might)ever venture?

Use this exercise to develop those qualities...but do not rely on that alone. Look for opportunities throughout your story to heighten these qualities.

Step 1. What is the one thing that your protagonist would never, ever say?

Step 2.What is the one thing that your protagonist would never, ever do?

Step 3. What is the one thing your protagonist would never, ever think?

Step 4. find places in your story in which your protagonist will say, do and think those very things. What circumstances? What consequences?

Here's some clues about larger than life actions.

Winking as a stranger is easy for a flirt, but not for a shy person. Taking a swing at someone is nothing to a boxer, for a nun it would be life changing....I was going to say for Bernita, instead of the nun...but for some reason I don't think that would be too life changing for her...me either for that case...LOL

Okay...what ever it is, it has to come as a surprise, feel big, feel outrageous.

We'd all like to feel that way at one time or another. Here's your chance. Let your character do, say, or think something memorable!

Find twelve more points in the story where your protagonist can break out!

Find a single point where the protagonist pointedly lets an opportunity pass by!

Lesson done!


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