21 April, 2012

Fiction Friday: Lessons from a Master

Last Saturday, agent, author and writing guru Donald Maass provided SinCNE members with tips, tricks, and techniques to ramp up their manuscripts.

My favourite advice: Take out obvious words and emotions and put in micro tension on every page.

 My least favourite: Print out your MS, stack it next to you.  Take handfuls of pages and let them fall all around you on the floor.  Gather them back up in random order and go through the pages, one at a time, and try to add tension to every page - in dialog, exposition, and plot.

From nine to five, Maass threw of advice, encouragement, and tools of the trade. 

The most important thing a writer can do, he told us, is to make the reader care about the protagonist, whether s/he/s an "every man", a hero, or an antihero. Readers won't believe in characters they can't feel.  Even if your character is a total jerk, or a dark commando, if you open him up, the reader will stick with you.  
And how do you open your protagonist and antagonist up? Throw adversity in his/her way, then make it worse, and just when s/he's about to break, make it worse again.  Manipulate reader's feelings and expectations, play head games with them, not just red herrings and misdirection, but morally in terms of what readers are thinking.

I came away with 15 pages of single-spaced notes.  Guess I'll be hitting the revision trail once again!

1 comment:

  1. Tiger, wasn't it amazing? I went to his class recently and came away with a massive (maassive?) hand-cramp from writing so much. I didn't want to forget anything he said...it all seemed so profound...was thoroughly impressed. Glad that you had an excellent experience.