Friday, August 11, 2006

I'm Conflicted

In creating genuine conflict, it is not enough simply to create inner turmoil. True inner conflict involves wanting two things that are mutually exclusive. It is most effective when it tears your protagonist, or any character, in two opposite directions. - Donald Maass in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

Once again, I am working my way through the Donald Maass workbook. I've done about a quarter of my Camilla rewrite, but am unsatisfied with the result. Is it better? Absolutely. Is it as good as it can be? Not even close.

I was typing up the exercises on the computer because I think better on the computer than I do long hand, and when typing up that quote, above, I was seriously impacted by it. If you can do this one thing (and write it well), your book will grab the reader and hold 'em until the end.

At first, I was mystified. How can someone truly want opposing things? They may say they want something when they really want something else, but that's not the same.

And then I thought about me.

I LOVE food. All food. I'm not picky... from fruits and veggies, to carbs and sweets, with few exceptions (like beef, pork and bananas) I'll eat just about anything you put in front of me.

I also love being healthy. This includes NOT being overweight and having a strong (i.e. exercised!) body and heart.

I truly desire both of these things, but they are mutually exclusive. When I eat the way I love to eat (can I blame it on my Portguese blood? "Eat, eat! You're nothing but skin and bones.") I gain weight. I feel sluggish, and lack the desire to exercise. When I deny my desire for food - and lots of it - I typically have more energy, but then I dream about eating. I think about it constantly. I can't get it out of my mind.


My heroine has this kind of pushme-pullyou conflict, but it's not amplified. In fact, it may only exist in my head and not on paper. Clearly, that needs to be worked on.

I'm telling you... this workbook is changing my whole outlook on writing. Seriously.

I. Love. It.


Ceri said...

Well if work would ever go back to being quiet then I could focus more time on my writing. Saturdays used to be my day to write with little distraction, but those days are gone. Interesting quote. I'm working with a hero who is conflicted like that. I need to get to that chapter and really work on that because its a very important, if not the most important part of his character.

So, Maass will come with me to work tomorrow and if I get a moment in my relocation process (moving to a different dept at work) I'll see what I can do. I have to add a great deal to this wip, which is currently a novella of 25K. I want to make it 60K. Wish me luck. :)

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Charity said...

Well, you know how I feel about the workbook. The only thing I haven’t done is build it a little altar. I found that I liked working longhand, but I did the same thing you’re doing. Some things I simply copied down, as a way to let them sink in.

Cindy said...

I have this book and haven't actually started using it yet. From the comments I get the feeling it will really help me with this book I'm working on. I think I'll have to go pull it out and start the exercises.