Now that you've done all the background work, the
"easy" part lies ahead. All you need to do is lead your character
toward the goal you specified in last week's assignment.
Sounds easy, but even a cursory reading of modern fiction
will tell you the opposite is the case. Seldom does the main character take
a cakewalk to the goal.
Somehow something always gets in the way. And, if you want
to set your readers on edge, it had better be a believable conflict.
For an exaggerated case, think of Don Quixote. He had a
quest, but everything seemed to get in the way, didn't it?
Now you need to inflict this unhappy circumstance upon
your newly minted character. Worse still, since this is an exercise (the
Great American Novel comes later), we ask you to experiment.
Let's review now. You created a character and
setting, and then aimed the character at a goal. Now it your duty to
introduce a conflict to interfere with the character's quest.
For next month, then, introduce a character whose role
will be to stand between your main character and his or her goal. Direct
confrontation is OK, but so is indirect confrontation. The point this month
is to bring interpersonal conflict into the story.
One character. Then one scene. Go! We look forward to
receiving your exercise.
You need to read the recent John Grisham book, A Painted House.
We make this recommendation because here is an established author
taking the big risk. Instead of developing his tried and true lawyer story
themes, John Grisham took a chance.
Here was a popular author who had no need to "prove himself"
in a new genre. Yet he took a story from the past, a story which was
almost totally ordinary, and he told it masterfully in novel form.
Not that this is just an ordinary work. It points from the past into
current times and helps us understand why families moved from working the
land to working in factories.
Read the story for technique. In what ways did Grisham make this story
grip you? How did he transform the humble ordinary family into
heroes of your attention and concern? If you can understand that, you may
be on your own way to author nobility!
Back in Time!...
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