Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Maass: Chapter Two

Those of you who tuned in last week recall we're working through Donald Maass' WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. Our focus the first week was on heroic qualities for our protagonist. The book's opening should reveal something of worth about our main character. Either he/she is caring, industrious, determined, etc. And throughout the novel other qualities should be layered-in. (Not from his book, but my personal aside: Remember female readers--especially when you're writing romance--want to fall in love with the heroes and want to see themselves as the heroines. In my humble opinion,the greatest characters challenge us to stretch, grow and become better people.)

In Chapter Two, Maass deals with Multidimensional Characters. He asks us to count--yes, actually go through our manuscripts, highlight and then tally--the various sides of our character. He cautions that, while we may THINK our hero is complex, in reality we may not have shown that on the written page.

Then Maass takes it one step farther. Identify our character's defining quality and write a paragraph that demonstrates the opposite quality. Can that be included in the manuscript? If so, that contrast reveals our character's humanity and allows the reader to identify more strongly with him/her.

In my current work in progress I have a scene where the hero, a very take-charge guy, reveals a fear that has held him back. Perhaps I can compare and contrast those conflicting qualities to drive home the point and ensure the reader realizes the internal struggle that conflict has caused my character.

And the heroine? Well, I need to think about her. Let's work on adding more dimension to our characters in the days ahead. I won't be here next Wednesday, but I'll be back the following week. Until then, happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!


Cara Putman said...

What a great series, Debbie. I'm in the fleshing out/proposal stage. A great reminder to pull out my Maas book as I do the work of creating characters and plots. I'm also really enjoying that Southern Lady subscription!

CherylStJohn said...

Hmmm, thinking I should dust off my copy.