Writing Tips & Tools

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lesson 20: The Inner Journey

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 TWO: the Inner Journey.

Plot development creates easy to see plot points. Less easy to identify are your protag's inner turning points. Call it growth, call it exposition, but get inside your characters head and find out where he/she is right now1

Take the time to demark the inner turning points in your current WIP. We want to know about your characters, particularly how they are changing. Show us. A sense of the trick inner lives unfolding is one of the hallmarks of a breakout novel.

Step 1: Choose any turning point except the climax.

Step 2: Wind the clock back...How does the character feel about himself NOW!

Step 3:Write a paragraph in which you delineate this character's state of mind or state of being at this earlier moment.

Step 4: Now, write a paragraph in which you delineate this character's state of mind, or state of being ten minutes after the turning point.

Step 5: Use the material you generated in the steps above to pull together a single paragraph.

Note: Has your life ever changed in a moment? Was there an incident, a second in time where your life changed irrevocable. Bring the same inner transformation that has taken place into a very detailed exercise.

Follow-up: Some novelist only do a short amount of work. Find out the feelings of a child. What does it feel to be like a child? Find out the answers from a child!


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