Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Library Book #2

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

I cannot say enough about this book. If you are beyond the point of understanding GMC, then run, SPEED to your nearest bookstore and BUY THIS BOOK! It is fabulous. It covers everything - Premise, Stakes, Time and Place, Characters, Plot, Contemporary Plot Techniques, Multiple Viewpoints, Theme, etc.

Topic from book of the day - What Makes a Character Larger than Life?

Maas list these reasons and explains them in detail: Strength, Inner Conflict, Self-Regard, & Wit & Spontaneity. All valid characteristics of book heroines we admire. But he also takes it to a higher level with these words:

"....I would like to suggest that there are two character qualities that leave a deeper, more lasting and powerful impression of a character than any other: forgiveness and self-sacrifice."

Wow! When I read this years ago it was like I had been hit by a lighting bolt. Of course, those two items would make for a great heroine. It's hard not to like someone who is sacrificing for others without consideration of themselves. Look at the soldiers overseas, sacrificing their time with their families and sometimes their lives so that you and I can rest with our own families under freedom every night. Look at the fireman and policemen who rushed into the Twin Towers to rescue people, many losing their own lives in the process.

Now, I'm not saying your heroine needs to rush into a burning building or pick up a weapon and engage the enemy (although either of those is fine and I'd probably like to read it), but ask yourself in your current work - how can I make my heroine give up something important for the benefit of another?

My only caveat - and this is totally me, not Maass - make the recipient of the action worthy. If you have the heroine sacrifice for a total butthead, then some readers (definitely me) will think she's being foolish.

So what has your heroine done for others lately??????


kathrynoh said...

Oh I love that book, must reread it.

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi kat! I love it too, in case you couldn't tell. :) I'm pretty sure Maass owes me a finder's fee or two.

I take it out and reread it at least two times a year. I'm used his workbook on the proposal I'm doing now and got a huge pivotol black moment out of it.

Kelly Parra said...

Now this one I have! Yay! =D I was at a writers con last year and they had this there so I picked it up. A lot of my local chapter mates have been to his workshops and can't say enough about them.

He must be a really good motivational speaker too...

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Kelly - glad you have this one! It's definitely a keeper. I have a tape of his Writing the Breakout Novel workshop that I've listened too, and yes, he is very dynamic. I just love the ease of presentation in his book. Even a newbie can garner a lot of good stuff from his suggestions and those of us further along can still pull it out and go "oh, yeah, I forgot about that."

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