Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lesson 2: Multidimensional Characters

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

What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. 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.

The joke of the day. I'm pretty sure I got this one from Ric!

When I was married 25 years, my husband looked at me one day and said, "Honey, 25 years ago, we had a cheap apartment, a cheap car, slept on a sofa bed and watched a 10 inch black and white TV, but I got to sleep every night with a hot 25 year- old blonde.

Now, we have a nice house, nice car, big bed and plasma TV, but I'm sleeping with a 50 year-old woman. It seems to me that you are not holding up your side of things."

Well, I've always been a very reasonable woman. I told him to go out and find a hot 25 year-old blonde and she would make sure that he would once again be living in a cheap apartment, driving a cheap car and sleeping on a sofa bed.


  1. David Meigs said...
    I like my characters to grow. I want my protag to be human enough to choose the wrong thing.

    Nice series Bonnie!
    Rulan said...
    Good series. Keep it coming.
    Joe said...
    It IS a good series. Please DO keep it coming.

    And that man's wife (in the joke, that is) is a smart cookie.
    Bernita said...
    So far, so good, Bonnie!
    Shelley L. MacKenzie said...
    I think curmudgeon is right...about the characters being human enough to choose the wrong things. Yeah, sure it's a novel, but if your characters are unbelievable, will people want to read? I mean, if everything always goes right for the character, if they never make mistakes or do the wrong things - isn't that kind of boring? I know for myself, I like a character that is closer to being a real person, one who makes mistakes, one who isn't perfect.
    M. C. Pearson said...
    Errr...your FIRST and CFBA buttons don't work. Just FYI. I'll be back to actually read your blog later tonight...0 dark-early tomorrow. :)
    Rulan said...
    Am I the only one who has to scroll way down past the Blogger thing to find your posts? And where have all the things gone from the right side?
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Yes, I agree Shelley....Maass says that a character must have all of the traits we have, warts and all...to be compelling!

    I don't know Rulan, was it all right when you were here this morning?

    It look alright on my screen. I've sent Mimi over to see what it looks like to her.

    It could be bad Blogger!
    Rulan said...
    This is the worst that it's been, but it has been loading strangely for the last few weeks.
    You used to have that yellow sign up the top with the person banging their head on the keyboard. But then it went down on the left side and ever since then, the whole blog has been disjointed. To me anyway. I don't know if anyone else sees it like that?
    Rulan said...
    Okay. It must be a Firefox thing. I just visited your blog using IE it loaded perfectly. It must have something to do with code. Oh well.

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