Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lesson 3: Inner Conflict

Good Wednesday friends. I trust you are all well and accounted for...LOL!

Let's continue our study. Yanno (tm Snark) some of you ladies that are reading , or have read Maass, can chime in with things that you've learned. I'm just providing a bare bones outline...Sheesh, I wish I had bare bones...but that's another issue! LOL!

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: Inner Conflict.

A good step for growing beyond the technique of adding character dimensions is investing your protagonist with two goals....needs, wants, longings, yearnings, desires, pinings...okay you get the drift!

But to make it work...the two have to be diametrically opposed. When the character is being pulled in opposite directions, you have conflict....and that's what makes a character truly memorable!

The best part is the inner conflict doesn't need to be limited to your protagonist. Wahooo! Any character can be conflicted! your character conflicted? Have you expressed it clearly so that the readers are sure about it? What actions does it cause? How does it affect other characters in the novel?

Step 1. Thinking about your protagonist as a whole, what does he/she most want?

Step 2. What is the opposite of that?

Step 3. How can your protagonist want both of these at the same time? What makes him/her want them both? How can he/she persue both desires?

Conclusion: In creating real inner conflict, it's not enough to just make inner turmoil. True inner conflict involves wanting two opposite things that tear the protagonist in two directions!

And now for a little Pet Humor

Buy a dog a toy and it will play with it forever. Buy a cat a present and it will play with the wrapper for 10 minutes.

Although cats are rather delicate creatures, and they are subject to a good many ailments, I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia.

Dogs and cats instinctively know the exact moment their owners will wake up. Then they wake them 10 minutes sooner.

Dog's have owners. Cat's have staff.

Dogs shed, cats shred.

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult?

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.

Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

I hope to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.

People that hate cats will come back as dogs in their next life.

We wonder why the dogs always drink out of our toilets, but look at it from their point of view: Why do humans keep peeing into their water bowls?

Women and cats will do as they please... men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

When a man's best friend is his dog, that dog has a problem.

In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.


  1. Rulan said...
    Inner conflict. What better way to torture out protags. :) I'm nice. Really I am.
    Anonymous said...
    A dog says "look my owners feed me and play with me and look after my every whim, they must be Gods!"

    A cat says "look my owners feed me and play with me and look after my every whim, I must be a God!"
    Bernita said...
    Wonder if one has a character with a single obsessed aim - if this would make a useful contrast with other conflicted characters?
    Another example of how character drives plot.
    Denise McDonald said...
    there is so much to learn
    David Meigs said...
    Do I, or don’t I? ...I just can’t make up my mind.

    I’m so conflicted.
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Rulan....*insert maniacal laughter here* My favorite sport is torture!

    Steve (SandStorm) Don't remind me! That's how my cat treats me.

    Bernita, there's always exceptions to every rule. So I don't know. I guess it would depend on how cleaver you were to weave all of the angsts together...and you, my dear have proven to be very clever with words!

    Dennie I feel the same way. that's why i decided to go through the workbook again. I'm saving each of my little synopsis' for a checklist ! :-)

    Curm *slap* snap out of it...Who are you? Where are you?....who am I? LOL!
    Sandra Ruttan said...
    My kitties don't ignore me, they claw the bejeebers out of my legs!
    Anonymous said...
    Hey Bonnie. Hope your week is going great. Good stuff here. I need to get Maas' book. Maybe a pet,

Post a Comment