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by Sandy Tritt
story wouldn’t be a story unless it happened to somebody. And that
somebody—and all the other somebodies in the novel—are the characters. A
good novel—even an action-based, plot-driven novel—must have carefully
conceived characters who are able to withstand the demands of the story
and who are able to change in some way. I have devoted Section 3 to
developing characters, so I’ll only touch on the basics here.
The protagonist is the main character in the story. He or she is
the character the reader should identify with, or, at least, empathize
with. The protagonist—and every other character who is integral to the
plot—should have a character statement. This is one sentence that
says what, more than anything else in the world, this character wants.
Examples of character statements:
Mike is determined to become President of the
Susan wants to marry Mike.
Harmond wants to survive, to return to Kansas
and marry his high school sweetheart.
More than anything in the world, Kerry wants
to be a movie star.
Jenny wants to be a good mom, to be there for
her kids, to give them the love and attention they need to grow into happy
and successful adults.
Of course, in order for a story to be a story, there must be something
that is preventing the protagonist from accomplishing his character
statement—something he must overcome in order to achieve his greatest
desire. This inter-relates with plot, where the three basic struggles are
man-against-man, man-against-nature, and man-against-himself.
The character conflict identifies what it is that your character
must overcome in order to accomplish his character statement. Examples of
struggle statements are:
Mike’s second cousin also wants to be
President, and will do anything to defeat Mike.
Mike is already engaged to Sally, who insists
Susan is a tramp.
Harmond is lodged in a crevice near Victoria
Kerry lives 3000 miles from Hollywood and his
parents refuse to move.
Jenny is an alcoholic.
Giving life to a character is one of the most rewarding
parts of being a writer. It is also one of the most difficult. Too many
times in fiction, we witness the “cardboard” or one-dimensional character.
Real characters, those we can visualize and root for and love, aren’t
created with the snap of a finger. Instead, they develop over time, over
many hours spent together. Surely, writing is a spiritual endeavor. The
closest any of us will ever mimic God is by our desire to create another
human. But when we do, we find out something that God discovered years
ago: once you breathe life into a being, he takes on a life of his own.
(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. April be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
Critiques by Sandy
Unlike most editors, I consider my role
to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I
explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how
to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat
business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other
Treat you with respect and compassion.
All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to
improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
Mark your manuscript, correcting
grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where
Highlight areas that are especially
well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
Where appropriate, offer suggestions for
plot development, character development or other areas that could be
Return a two-to-four page written
analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting,
characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks,
etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
If appropriate, recommend reading or
resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
Answer any questions you have via
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article
Oscars for a Bygone Shadow
Serious lives pass-by,
occasionally, there may be a soiree
on the terrace of ambitions,
friends and family
will applaud and cheer, feed the ego,
for a few irresistible moments,
but, on the whole,
a life will sail past, furbished in hush,
nobody will notice its golden interior,
illuminated in elegant ingenious
time expires in modest silence,
a few vivid shadows may
as the picture book
Michael Levy is the author of four
books "What is the Point? "Minds of Blue Souls of Gold" "Enjoy Yourself -
It's Later Than You Think" and "Invest with a Genius." Michael's poetry
and essays now grace many web sites, journals and magazines throughout the
world. His web site in ranked number one/two in the world out of 3,000,000
web sites when "Inspirational books" are the search words on Google's
Web Sites :
Finding an Audiobook Publisher
Montreuil's search to find an interested audio book Publisher for GOD IN
SANDALS, she sent an e-mail query letter to Blackstone Audiobooks.
Blackstone publishes top-quality, unabridged audio books, with an
excellent list of religious titles. At that time, The Passion of The
Christ film had just been released and there was more than the usual
interest in the life of Jesus. Blackstone requested a copy of the novel to
review. After approving the content, an agreement was formed for an audio
Released February 2005, the audio book is eleven hours of dramatic
listening. It's been produced in these formats: cassette, CD, and MP3.
The narrator, Mark Rosenwinkel, a professional actor, playwright, and
Director with over 25 years of experience in theater, brings the Biblical
drama of Christ to life.
Created You: A Guide to Temperament Therapy
AuthorMe Paperback... (Released 2005)
Click here for more info...
Go Back in Time!...
our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook
III. You'll become a true believer. Visit...
is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.
From Paul the Apostle...
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating
Visit our sister websites...
Publishing New Writers,
April, 2005 (no. 604)
Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.
Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions /comments email@example.com.
To subscribe and/or review our archive of past newsletters, go to
by Dan Masterson
The fine poet, William Stafford, once wrote that he inhaled others’
poetry and felt that he should therefore exhale some of his own. He was
a voracious reader and writer. Amazingly, very few young poets follow
his lead. They tend to turn away from the vast archive of poetry
available to them.
One reason seems to be that they fear they’ll be influenced by reading
the poetry of others. Another reason is laziness. History shows that
artists in all genres discover their own voice by studying the masters.
Painters, dancers, singers, and yes, writers of all sorts. Even poets!
It’s a good idea to do something physical before settling in at your
writing desk. Go jogging or punch a boxing bag for a few rounds.
Anything that gets the blood moving and the muscles tingling. Read after
you’ve finished writing for the day. That way, you won’t need to worry
about sounding like anyone else.
Some morning soon, jog down to your local library or bookstore and come
away with books by the following Modern poets. Walt Whitman, William
Butler Yeats, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Robinson Jeffers,
T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, and Theodore Roethke.
The next time you jog to town, bring home books by the following
Contemporary poets: James Dickey, Li-Young Lee, Galway Kinnell, John
Allman, Anne Sexton, James Wright, Richard Wilbur, and Gary Snyder.
Then, to help flesh it all out, trot on back to Main Street and collect
books by Miller Williams, Anthony Hecht, Lucille Clifton, William Heyen,
Dylan Thomas, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop,
Baraka, Mark Strand, Sylvia Plath, Russell Edson, Paul Zimmer, W. D.
Snodgrass, Ai, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, Donald Hall, Ted Hughes,
Derek Walcott, and Anthony Hecht.
Following this article, you’ll find a longer list of poets you should
read when you’re not punching something or running somewhere or writing
or revising. I’m betting that every poem you read will help you realize
something about your own work.
Whitman, W. C. Williams, Gary Snyder, Collins, Brooks, Frost, and Mark
Strand will help you relax the language and its syntax. Hecht, Eliot,
and Wilbur will show you how to rhyme without allowing it to dominate
your work. Kinnell, Allman, Lee, Roethke, and James Wright will clothe
you in their characters’ skin and allow you to observe the world as they
do, and James Dickey, Yeats, and Jeffers will tell you stories you’ll
wear a long time.
Thomas, Heyen, Hughes, Berryman, Bishop, Eliot, Auden, Walcott, and
Miller Williams will teach you to dance through imagery, while Plath,
Sexton, Olds, Snodgrass, Baraka, and Ai will take you for a jog on the
darker side, only to meet up with Clifton, Zimmer, and Edson who’ll get
you laughing at yourself and the rest of us.
Remember what Stafford said up top: inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. I
think you’ll discover that it works just fine. Let me know what you
And if you’re curious about my stuff, you can
read my first two books online at
P O E T R Y M A S T E R
~Good Poems Made Better~
Send 4-book poet Dan Masterson one or two poems of your own making, and
comment on them free of charge. Thereafter you may continue working with
him on a fee basis if you wish. See details at
read his first two books online at
DAN MASTERSON’s fourth book, All Things, Seen and
Unseen, was released by The University of Arkansas Press in 1997. It
includes work published in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry,
Gettysburg Review, Esquire, Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Sewanee
Review, Shenandoah, Hudson Review, London Magazine, Massachusetts
Review, Yankee, New Orleans Review, Prairie Schooner, Ontario Review,
Poetry Northwest, North Dakota Quarterly, and The Yale Review.Elected
to membership in Pen International in 1986, he is a recipient of two
Pushcart Prizes, The Poetry Northwest Bullis Prize, The Borestone
Award, and the CCLM Fels Award. He has directed the poetry writing
workshops at SUNY/Rockland for 40 years, and continues his 19-year
affiliation with Manhattanville College through an online graduate
course he offers through his website for writers (http://www.poetrymaster.com).
He is currently completing a manuscript, That Which Is Seen,
which consists of poems based exclusively on artwork. Many of the
selections have already appeared in such journals as The Sewanee,
Georgia, and Ontario reviews, Artful Dodge, Ekphrasis, The New
York Quarterly, Hotel Amerika, and Kestrel, as well as in two
anthologies and a college workbook.The complete texts of his first two
books, On Earth As It Is (Illinois, 1978) and Those Who
Trespass (Arkansas,1991) are displayed on The Contemporary American
Poetry Archives site (http://capa.conncoll.edu). Recently, his work was
featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.” Masterson spent his
early years in Buffalo, graduated from Syracuse University, and resides
in Pearl River, NY with his wife, Janet, a psychotherapist. They spend
much of the snow-free months at their cabin in the New York State high
peak region of the Adirondacks.
E A D A N Y G O O D P O E T S
A T E L Y ?
~A PARTIAL READING LIST~
Ai, Ann Akhmatova, Dick Allen, John Allman, A. R. Ammons, Alvin
Aubert, W. H. Auden, Amiri Baraka, David Baker, Charles Baudelaire,
Michael Benedikt, John Berryman, Marvin Bell, Elizabeth Bishop, William
Blake, Robert Bly, Philip Booth, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks,
Hayden Carruth, Paul Celan, Rene Char, John Ciardi, Amy
Clampitt, Suzanne Cleary, Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Jane Cooper,
Gregory Corso, Hart Crane, Robert Creeley, E. E. Cummings, Carl Dennis,
James Dickey, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Dobyns, Rita Dove, Alan Dugan,
Richard Eberhart, Russell Edson, T. S. Eliot, Paul Eluard,
Irving Feldman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Edward Field, Donald Finkel,
Carolyn Forche, Siv Cedering Fox, Carol Frost, Richard Frost, Robert
Steve Gehrke, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Patricia Goedicke,
Albert Goldbarth, Robert Graves, Eamon Grennan, Thom Gunn, Ramon
Guthrie, Marilyn Hacker, Donald Hall, Michael Harper, Thomas Hardy,
Robert Hass, Charles Hartman, Robert Hayden, Seamus Heaney, Anthony
Hecht, Zbigniew Herbert, Michael Heffernan, William Heyen, Edward
Hirsch, Edward Hoagland, G. M. Hopkins, John Hoppenthaler, Richard
Howard, David Huddle, Andrew Hudgins, Langston Hughes, Ted Hughes,
Richard Hugo, T. R. Hummer.
David Ignatow, Colette Inez, Reamy Jansen, Randall Jarrell, Robinson Jeffers,
Peter Johnson, June Jordan, Donald Justice.
Patrick Kavanagh, John Keats, Dave Kelly, X. J. Kennedy, Jane
Kenyon, Milt Kessler, Galway Kinnell, Etheridge Knight, Carolyn Kizer,
Bill Knott, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin. Stanley Kunitz,
Philip Larkin, Denise Levertov, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, Larry
Levis, John Logan., Federico Garcia Lorca, Robert Lowell.
Osip Mandelstam, Jack Marshall, Dan Masterson, William
Matthews, Vladimir Mayakovsky, J. D. McClatchy, Michael McClure, Thomas
McGrath, Heather McHugh, Sandra McPherson, Jay Meek, William Meredith,
James Merrill, W. S. Merwin, Czeslaw Milosz, Judith Moffett, Eugenie
Montale, Marriane Moore, Howard Nemerov, Pablo Neruda, Naomi Shiab Nye.
Frank O’Hara, Sharon Olds, Carol Oles, Mary Oliver, Charles
Olsen, George Oppen, Gregory Orr, Alicia Ostriker, Greg Pape, Linda
Pastan, Boris Pasternak, Kenneth Patchen, Don Patterson, Octavio Paz,
Wilfred Owen, Carl Phillips, Robert Phillips, Marge Piercy, Robert
Pinsky, Sylvia Plath, Stanley Plumly, Katha Pollitt, Ezra Pound.
Ranier Maria Rilke, Bin Ramke, Arthur Rimbaud, Gibbons Ruark,
Ishmael Reed, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke.
Delmore Schwartz, Hugh Seidman, Anne Sexton, Karl Shapiro, Jon
Silkin, Charles Simic, Louis Simpson, Floyd Skloot, Dave Smith, W. D.
Snodgrass, Gary Snyder, Gary Soto, Jack Spicer, Elizabeth Spires,
William Stafford, George Starbuck, Gerald Stern, Wallace Stevens, David
St. John, John Stone, Terry Stokes, Mark Strand, Ruth Stone, Wislawa
Szymborska, James Tate, Dylan Thomas, Marina Tsvetayeva, Lewis Turco.
Jean Valentine, H. L. Van Brunt, Mona Van Duyn, Paul Verlaine.
David Wagoner, Derek Walcott, Michael Waters,Walt Whitman,
Richard Wilbur, C. K. Williams, Miller Williams, William Carlos
Williams, Yvor Winters, Harold Witt, David Wojahn, C. D. Wright, Charles
Wright, Franz Wright, James Wright, W. B. Yeats, Yevgeny Yevtushenko,
Al Young, Paul Zimmer.