Monday, July 24, 2006

Lesson 21: High Moments

Good Monday morning....I see by the news reports that there are still major power outages in Queens, New York and St. Louis, Missouri. Hope all our blogging buddies are fine....although if they have no power they won't see this...duh, Bonnie!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: High Moments.

I love it when a novel makes you suck in your breath and go, "Oh!" These are high moments, when the story soars above itself and awes or inspires us in some way.

How are such effects achieved? It's easier than you think. Granted there are certain types of story events that are guaranteed to produce wide-eyed reactions. What are they?....forgiveness, self-sacrifice, reversals of direction, moral choices, and death. Do any of these occur in your current manuscript? If not, is there a place for them?

Step 1: In your novel is there one character who can be forgiven by another? What is being forgiven? When? Why?

Step 2: In your novel is there a character who can sacrifice his/herself, or something dearly loved, in some way? Who is it? What does he sacrifice?

Step 3: In your novel is there ancharacter who can change direction? Who is it? What causes the turnabout? When does it happen?

Step 4: In your novel is there a character who faces a moral choice? Who? What choice? How can that choice become more difficult?

Step 5: In your novel is there a character whom we do not expect to die, but who can nevertheless perish? Kill that character.

Note: What are the memorable moments in a novel? The high moments, of course, but what do we mean by that? They can mean many things like reconciliation, self-sacrifice, transformation, tests of character, or death. In many novels none of these things occur!

Follow-up: Using the notes you made above, incorporate each of those high moments into your novel!

Conclusion: For a novel to feel big, big things must happen: irrevocalbe changes, hearts opening, hearts breaking, saying farewell to one well loved whom we will never meet again. Create these moments. Use them. They are the high moments that make a novel highly dramatic.

And here's a joke to start the week!

Bubba was bragging to his boss one day, "You know, I know everyone there is to know. Just name someone, anyone, and I know them."

Tired of his boasting, his boss called his bluff, "OK, Bubba how about Tom Cruise?"

"Sure, yes, Tom and I are old friends, and I can prove it." So Bubba and his boss fly out to Hollywood and knock on Tom Cruise's door, and sure enough, Tom Cruise, shouts, "Bubba! Great to see you! You and your friend come right in and join me for lunch!"

Although impressed, Bubba's boss is still skeptical. After they leave Cruise's house, he tells Bubba that he thinks Bubba's knowing Cruise was just lucky.

"No, no, just name anyone else," Bubba says.

"President Bush," his boss quickly retorts.

"Yes," Bubba says, "I know him, let's fly out to Washington." And off they go. At the White House, Bush spots Bubb on the tour and motions him and his boss over, saying, "Bubba, what a surprise, I was just on my way to a meeting, but you and your friend come on in and let's have a cup of coffee first and catch up."

Well, the boss is very shaken by now, but still not totally convinced. After they leave the White house grounds, he expresses his doubts to Bubba, who again implores him to name anyone else.

"The Pope," his boss replies.

"Sure!" says Bubba. "My folks are from Poland, and I've known the Pope a long time."

So off they fly to Rome. Bubba and his boss are assembled with the masses in Vatican Square when Bubba says, "This will never work. I can't catch the Pope's eye among all these people. Tell you what, I know all the guards so let me just go upstairs and I'll come out on the balcony with the Pope."

And he disappears into the crowd headed toward the Vatican. Sure enough, half an hour later Bubba emerges with the Pope on the balcony. But by the time Bubba returns, he finds that his boss has had a heart attack and is surrounded by paramedics.

Working his way to his boss' side, Bubba asks him, "What happened?"

His boss looks up and says, "I was doing fine until you and the Pope came out on the balcony and the man next to me said, "Who's that on the balcony with Bubba?"


  1. Anonymous said...
    that joke is really bad - funny, but bad
    Bernita said...
    Geeze, Bonnie.
    I have death but...
    Maybe later on in the series?
    Didn't think so.
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said...
    I know gave me something to think about too...*insert maniacal laughter here* I know who I can kill off!
    Rulan said...
    I have death, heartbreak and self-sacrifice in my wip.

    Hope you haven't got it too hot where you are.

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