Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lesson 28: Inner Change

Good Thursday. While we northerners are sweltering in the heat, our southern brothers and sisters are battening down the hatches....I pray all goes well with you folks down there! At the end of this post I have a little 'hurricane humor' that might give you five minutes of smiles!

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 THREE: Inner Change.

We grow and change. We also note the growth and change in others. The moments in breakout novels in which such changes are observed are milestones that measure the journey that is each story.

Change in characters, or rather, characters' perceptions of the changes within themselves and others, may happen within a scene or across long stretches of time.
It doesn't matter. Inner changes calibrate a plot, lending it a sense of inexorable progress and pace.

How does your protagonist's picture of himself change throughout the course of your novel? How does she/he view others in the story, and how do those views change? How do others see your protagonist? How do those assessments, in turn, alter? Delineate these shifts in your characters' self-perceptions and perceptions of each other. It is yet another way to tighten the weave of the story.

Step 1: Find a moment in your manuscript when your hero is speaking with a major secondary character, or when that secondary character carries the point of view while speaking with your hero.

Step 2: Create a paragraph in which your hero assesses this other character; that is, delineates for himself this other character's qualities, mood, or situation in life. Put simply, how does your hero see this character right now?

....Alternately, have your point of view character regard your hero by the same criteria. How does she view your hero at this particular moment?

Step 3: Move forward to a later point in the story when these two characters are again together on the page. Repeat the previous step. How does your hero view this character now?

....Alternately, how does that character view your protagonist at this point?

Note: You grow and change, so do your characters. But you need to once in a while measure the difference so that we as readers see it!

Follow-up: Find three points in the story in which to delineate your antagonist's view of your protagonist.

Conclusion: allow characters occasional moments to take stock of each other is a powerful way to mark each players progress through the story. Examine your hero from several points of view; later, show us how those views have shifted.

"Florida Hurricane Advice"

We're about to enter the peak of the hurricane season. Any day now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Gulf of Mexico and making two basic meteorological hints:

(1) There is no need to panic.
(2) We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Florida. If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one." Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness

STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.
STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3. Drive to Illinois and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately,statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay in Florida.

We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:


If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:

(1) It is reasonably well-built, and
(2) It is located in Illinois.

Unfortunately, if your home is located in Florida, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay you money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss.


If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says "Florida," you live in a low-lying area.


If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now. Florida tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of Spam.

In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies: 23 flashlights; at least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes off, to be the wrong size for the flashlights. Bleach.

(No, I don't know what the bleach is for. Nobody knows what the bleach is for, but it's traditional, so get some!)

A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant. A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.) A large quantity of raw chicken, to placate the alligators.

(Ask anybody who went through a hurricane; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.) $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

Good luck, and remember: its great living in paradise.


  1. Vanda said...
    LOL that sounds like being prepared for the "big" one in California.
    Live, Love, Laugh said...
    ha ha you made me laugh out loud!! that was so dumb! lol
    Bernita said...
    More excellent, practical advice, Bonnie...I'm talking about Maass.
    Gordon said...
    Lol, that is some on-target advice there, Bonnie.
    Anonymous said...
    Good one, Bonnie
    Mindy Tarquini said...
    This had me laughing.
    Denise McDonald said...
    Kat said...
    such impecible timing on the hurricane advice since i just moved to 'paradise' myself and there is a tropical storm out in the Atlantic as we speak....
    M. C. Pearson said...
    Wow. You have actually succeeded in making me glad to live in North Carolina. LOL.

    I love the Donald advice. I hope mine is up to par for all of it.

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