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Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Writers Advice Flash

"Great characters are the key to great fiction. A high-octane plot is nothing without credible, larger-than-life, highly developed en-actors that make it meaningful." ~Donald Maass, Writing The Breakout Novel.

The words of super agent Donald Maass are hard to argue with, especially when they ring so true. Characters are the soul of our novels and they must be treated as such and developed just as thoroughly as the plot. If you haven't read Donald's book yet you should. It could be what gets your novel out of the slush pile and into the contract pile. Click on the title for a direct link to my favorite bookseller who carries it. Happy reading and writing! I'm off to do a bit of my own.

14 comments:

  1. Good advice! Without the right characters, the plot won't advance either. It's like a ballet between character, plot, voice and world.

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  2. I love the way you put that Lisa, like a ballet. What a perfect analogy!

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  3. So right you are! Characters are the heart of a book. It's important to develop them first. Once you have a solid character or two then you can build a world around them.

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  4. Exactly Lindsey! The characters always come to me first, before the world or any other details. They are what makes everything come alive for me!

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  5. This is so true, Heather. I think fledgling writers sometimes forget about developing their characters to the point that not only do they know them inside and out--what makes them tick--but make them have different personalities, view points and so forth. Personalities that can clash, stand out, stand alone so that if you read a paragraph you know who's talking w/o reading the speaker atributions.

    Good post. I've missed a few weeks of your posts and have to try and catch up.

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  6. I bought and read this on your recommendation. It is an awesome book, and I want to thank you for recommending it to me!

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  7. This is great and so true. But sometimes I worry that I get lost more in creating my characters than in the plot.
    I’ll have to check out his book.

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  8. Thanks for the tip; that's a book I do intend to read. I worry a little about "larger than life" though. I think you can pretty quickly get into comically overblown pastiches if you're not careful. Shouldn't we generally aim for "large as life"?

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  9. Great advice! I had to go back and restart at WIP not too long ago, because I wasn't happy with the way the main character had turned out. Characters really make or break a novel.

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  10. Hey Lorelei, no worries, we all get busy! You're right, as I've developed and grown as a writer I find myself focusing more on characters than I ever have.

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  11. You're welcome Kari! I'm glad you liked it.

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  12. Great point Sarah, that can happen. As a reader and a writer I like a happy balance where both characters and plot feel fully developed.

    I agree completely Simon! If they are too over the top then they don't feel real. I don't necessarily like how Donald said larger than life. I love how you put it, 'large as life'. That sounds perfect!

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  13. So true Alissa. As I steal bits and pieces from an older novel I'm seeing where I didn't fully develop the main character. Now I get the chance to fix it! You're right, it can make all the difference!

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  14. Well said! I love Maass' books, and he's convinced me plot doesn't exist without compelling characters--I can't really separate the two in my mind. I've never fallen in love with a book that didn't have compelling characters. I'm not sure I even finished one with weakly drawn ones.

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