Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lesson: 32 continued...

Good Thursday...The weekend is sneaking up on me! *Smack!* I saw you coming! Boy the days do so fast that it makes me feel old...LOL!

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: Theme.

Yesterday we went over Theme, and the exercise was about alternate endings. Today we'll do "the Larger Problem" as an exercise.

Step: 1 Thinking about the story as a whole, what is the main problem facing your protagonist?

Step: 2 What is the bigger problem beyond that?

Step: 3 What is the problem that your protagonist cannot solve?

Step: 4 Find ways to introduce into the story the bigger problem and the problem that cannot be solved. How can that be accomplished?

Note: What public issues stir you up. If you could change the world what would you change. Allow the words to emerge from not only your heart, but from your protagonists problems!

Follow-up: What is the main problem in your protagonists second plot layer? Write it down and follow the steps above to develop a secondary theme.

Conclusion: Every issue conceals a bigger issue. At the heart of every big issue is a dilemma that has no answer. While it may sound downbeat to introduce these elements into your story, in fact they will amplify the problem at hand. the ripples that they send outward in your readers minds are, in essence, your novel's deepest issues, or to put in another way, it's theme at work!

This is a real story, I checked it out at!

With a year to go before it even touches the water, the Navy's amphibious
assault ship USS New York has already made history. It was built with 24
tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.

USS New York is about 45 percent complete and should be ready for launch
in mid-2007. Katrina disrupted construction when it pounded the Gulf
Coast last summer, but the 684-foot vessel escaped serious damage,
and workers were back at the yard near New Orleans two weeks after the

It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that
include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors
and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and
assault craft.

"It would be fitting if the first mission this ship would go on is to make sure that
bin Laden is taken out, his terrorist organization is taken out," said Glenn
Clement, a paint foreman. "He came in through the back door and knocked our
towers down and (the New York) is coming right through the front door, and we
want them to know that."

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA
to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003,
"those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt.
Kevin Wensing, who was there. "It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the tradecenter steel
first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up."
"It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said. "They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."

The name New York was reportedly revived for the warship (which was already under construction) at the request of New York governor George Pataki to commemorate the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., creating an exception to current U.S. Navy policy of using state names only for nuclear submarines.

The ship's motto - 'Never Forget'


  1. Gordon said...
    That is so awesome. I hope this ship kicks OBL's behind!
    Bernita said...
    Got those.
    Anonymous said...
    Great story, Bonnie. Very appropriate with the annivesary coming up.
    Sandra Ruttan said...
    Bonnie, these posts are fantastic reminders.
    M. C. Pearson said...
    My email is acting all weird. I'll try to contact you tomorrow. I sent you one email...but it takes so long to check mail that I won't try again tonight.

    Love ya, Mimi
    David Meigs said...
    A complex theme makes the characters more believable and the payoff more rewarding. It also makes writing more fun too.

    I like the idea of the ship using steel from the WTC. It not only makes economical/environmental sense, but it gives me a feeling of payback too. Thanks for sharing the news.
    Rulan said...
    Great lessons, Bonnie.
    wow That's ship's got history before it's even finished.

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