Friday, June 23, 2006

Good Friday....auhhh, the weekend! Lesson 6 will be on Monday, so that our weekday readers don't get behind.

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

In case your just joining our regularly scheduled program...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: Heightening Larger-Than-Life-Character Qualities.

We're going to work on sharpening the larger-than-life qualities throughout your story. So, okay...where to start? The opportunities can crop up anywhere. It only takes being alert to the possibilities of sending your protagonist or POV character beyond what is usual.

Look for ways to heighten anything that your protagonist says, does, or take the temperature up, or down for that matter! Play against the prevailing mood of the scene.

A larger-than-life protagonist talks, acts, and reasons independently. Let you hero's speech, actions, and thoughts follow their own course, regardless of what's going on. Surprise us! That sounds hard, but it really is only a technique!

Step 1: At random in the middle of your manuscript, pick anything at all that your protagonist thinks, says, or does. Heighten it. Make it bigger, funnier, more shocking, more out of bounds, more over the top, more violent, more insightful, more wildly romantic, more active, more anything!

Step 2: Take another action, thought, or line of dialogue and make it smaller, quieter, more internal, more personal, more ironic, more offhand, less impassioned, barely noticeable.

Step 3: Select twenty-four more points in the story where you can heighten or diminish something that your protagonist does, says, or thinks.

Conclusion: Larger-than-life characters powerfully attract us because they are surprising, vital, and alive. They do not let life slip by. Every moment counts. Every day has meaning. How can you give that kind of life force to your protagonist. Turn up the volume!

And now a joke, compliments of Ric!

A cat died and went to Heaven.

God met her at the gates and said, "You have been a good cat all these years. Anything you want is yours for the asking."

The cat thought for a minute and then said,"All my life I lived on a farm and slept on hardwooden floors. I would like a real fluffy pillow to sleep on."

God said, "Say no more."

Instantly the cat had a huge fluffy pillow.

A few days later, six mice were killed in an accident and they all went to Heaven together.

God met the mice at the gates with the same offer that He made to the cat.

The mice said, "Well, we have had to run allof our lives: from cats, dogs, and even people with brooms! If we could just have some little rollerskates, we would not have to run again."

God answered, "It is done." All the mice had beautiful little roller skates.

About a week later, God decided to check on the cat. He found her sound asleep on her fluffypillow.

God gently awakened the cat and asked, "Is everything okay? How have you been doing? Are you happy?"

The cat replied, "Oh, it is WONDERFUL. I have never been so happy in my life. The pillow is so fluffy, and those little Meals on Wheels you have been sending over are delicious!"


  1. David Meigs said...
    I also like my antagonist to be bigger than life. That goes double for the hurdles the protag faces. The end product feels like an epic quest. Definitely larger than life.

    PS – Thanks for all the blog help! You are an answer to prayer.
    Bernita said...
    keep it coming, Bonnie.
    So practical.
    Denise McDonald said...
    always learning - don't know if it's doing me any good - but always learning...
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Well, I don't know about being an answer Curm...LOL...I've sometimes been referred to as a nightmare! about being practical...your the woman!

    I'm with you Dennie...but I think I leak...I shove it in my head and it runs out...oh, nevermind!
    Rulan said...
    I want my protag larger than life and I, like David, want my antag much larger. I've read David's book and you better believe it, I feared for his protag. I want to write like that.
    Shelley L. MacKenzie said...
    Wouldn't making things bigger make the character unrealistic though? I don't know how to make them larger than life without making things sound Boy, do I have a LOT to learn!
    Stephen Newton said...
    Doing much better today, Bonnie. Thanks for stopping by. I'm enjoying your Breakout Novel posts. Great idea!
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    I can not get Blogger to accept my post. Today is Monday...I am alive! %#$@^%$ ....but alive!
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Monday evening 9:58PM...does anybody know how to find Blogger's email address?
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Shelley, I'm sorry! I completely ignored your question....Blogger is making me buggers!

    I think it's a fine line between changing a few scenes and going whole hog on making the character larger.

    Just use a keep people off balance about the character.
    M. C. Pearson said...
    You are so your top left box. Blogger bonker time indeed.
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    I was so desperate to post....any port in a storm...I don't want people to think I was abducted!

    Rulan said...
    Bad Blogger. I had problems posting the other. Hey, how about emailing your lessons out to us until it all comes right?
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Rualn, I would but then you'd be ahead of all the people who lurk and don't post....LOL...I'm trying to be an adventure/suspense author...

    This ordeal is an adventure and waiting is the suspense...ROFLOL!

    Practice the five lessons that are up....practice makes perfect!
    David Meigs said...
    And I thought blogger only had it in for me.

    Would you believe that when I changed my template, it reformatted all my previous posts. I have to go back and re-“publish” every dumb, ignorant, blasted, stupid, idiotic post I ever did!

    Six hours work and I’m only a little more than half way done.

    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Tuesday 10:30 AM

    Wow, Curm...I don't think that should have happened. Thur's templates are Blogger templates. and his coding is immpeccable.

    Egads...I think you've found another symptom of the present problem!

    Maybe some day I'll be able to post again! Hey I've posted in my template. Maybe I'll resort to posting here!
    Denise McDonald said...
    Bonnie - this stinks - sorry it's being such a booger

    I just saw it hadn't changed so I never thought ot look at the comments

    hope it getsd fixed soon!
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Thanks Dennie....I was busy on Saturday and I didn't get a chance to post so I never noticed it until Sunday night when I tried to post Monday morning.

    The last comment logged was mine at 11:47 Friday morning...even the comment couter stopped!
    Sandra Ruttan said...
    Oh Bonnie, sorry this thing is giving you such a hard time! I went through that once, and I ended up switching to a different template. It solved the whole problem. Not saying it will this time, but maybe...
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    Sandra...I'm too stubborn to change templates...LOL..ask me that again on Friday if I'm not fixed!

    I've been interfacting with a Blogger employee on their Groups Board, and I have a place to start...

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