Writing The Breakout Novel, Chapter 1: Adding Heroic Qualities

by RS on August 20, 2015

 

In addition to working through the exercises in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, I’m re-reading the sections in the book that relate to the assignments.

The current objective is to create characters that are larger-than-life. Chapter 1 of Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook starts off in a seemingly easy manner. Name a personal hero. Well, that’s simple. If you’re a reader of this blog, you know how much I admire Alvah Bessie. If you’re new and are following this latest folly and don’t know who he is, you can read about him here.

I mentioned three of Alvah’s heroic qualities:

“What speaks to me about Alvah was his persistence to keep true to his radical idealism, his loyalty to the Marxist cause, and to his comrades. He fought Franco’s Nationalists in Spain as a volunteer of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. Later, he stood up to HUAC, refusing to name names that ultimately led to dire consequences: Contempt of Congress and incarceration at the Texarkana Federal Penitentiary.  In spite of the hardships of the blacklist, and his struggles to find work, he continued to write non-stop. Alvah believed in fighting with the pen for what was just and telling the hard truth about our political leaders and government. ”

So—my protagonist, Corinne Sand, is loyal to her cause and fellow travelers, and persistent in getting her message out. That’s all very nice, but none of these qualities shows when she makes her first appearance.

I’m waffling a bit because it’s all shown indirectly—told by other characters in the story. The challenge is to show some of these qualities when she first appears. Serendipitously, this happens to be a chapter that needs an overhaul (again).

After thinking some ideas through, and with my notes in hand, I have a better notion of how I can work in these qualities and change the pace of the story.

Lastly, Maass asks, prior to the climactic scene, to find six points, in a small way, in which the protagonist can demonstrate heroic qualities. Thankfully, most of the action occurs in the latter middle part of Part 2 and in Part 3 where I can pinpoint them.

Lessons learned:

  • Think larger-than-life character.
  • Introduce traits early on in the story.
  • Show readers why they should like and admire this character.
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