Monday, August 28, 2006

Lesson 32: Last Exercise

Good Monday...Well, it's Monday, but not necessarily good! The timing chain on my car decided that it was done with me on Friday...*sigh*...So I have been sans car. I'm riding with the DH but that's like taking your life in your hands as any given time. Let's just say I've been doing a lot of praying! My homegirl Debbie Brand picked me up for church, so I did get one safe ride this weekend!

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.

This is the final exercise in this section. It's called Making the Antagonist's Case.

Step 1: What does your antagonist believe in? Why do they feel justified and right? How would the world be better, through their eyes, if things ran the way they would like them to run?

Step 2: Make the antagonist's case stronger. Assume that the antagonist is actually correct: What support for their case can be found in philosophy or religion? On a practical level, how would things really be better? Explain in writing.

Step 3: Choose a character who supports your antagonist, and make the antagonist's case from that character's point of view.

Note: In many manuscripts the antagonists are cardboard. They are bluntly evil or wrong. One dimensional villains do not frighten me...or most readers. Far scarier are villains who have a good reason for doing what they do, and who can justify their intents and actions as working for the good.

The more sincere your antagonist, the more effective they will be, and the more powerfully you will be forcing your reader to decide what constitutes right and wrong. (Which, of course is more effective than telling your reader your own opinion outright, don't you agree?)

Follow-up: find the moment in your story when your protagonist realizes that you antagonist is right, and why.

Conclusion: Certainly you want your hero to doubt himself at times, don't you? Why not push that all the way and let your hero doubt him/her self in the extreme? What would be the circumstances? How close to failure does your protagonist come? In that moment, you will be very close to your core values and theme.

Here's some Wisdom and Questions for you to ruminate on!

1. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

2. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. *yikes*

3. Atheism is a nonprophet organization. *mwhahahaha*

4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

5. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

6. Could it be that all those trick-or-treaters wearing sheets aren't going as ghosts but as mattresses?

7. If a mute swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

8. If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?

9. It there another word for synonym?

10. How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?

11. Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny?


  1. M. C. Pearson said...
    Oh man. I love that list Bonnie.
    Bernita said...
    So Maas wants the hero seduced by the dark side...
    I see his point, but I'm getting tired of the sympathetic villain.

    A great list, Bonnie!
    Delia said...
    I ♥ this list! And your blog! I can't tell you where I clicked through from, I've been here so long reading through your archives that I've forgotten!
    Ballpoint Wren said...
    Whoa, Bonnie! I've been praying while riding, too, but only whilst the teenager drives.

    Yesterday he rolled through a red light! I thought I was gonna pass out!
    David Meigs said...
    Excellent points on antagonists.

    Tell DH to watch where he’s driving. He’s carrying a precious cargo. I hope you get the timing belt fixed soon.

Post a Comment