To tell a compelling story…

Take ’em to Hell and Back

Posted on: April 7, 2010

I love reading ‘master the craft’ books and find they inspire me whenever I am blocked. I have a library full of them (see earlier post on Hooked! by Les Edgerton).

I’m currently reading Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel. In it, Maass devotes page after page to raising the stakes, asking us to ask ourselves

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen to a character?
  • When is the worst possible time for it to happen?

…and then challenges us to do it, to take that character straight to Hell and back.  I read this and am almost ashamed to admit there was a bit of gleeful hand-rubbing as I got out my three-foot pad and filled it with all sorts of horrible things. At one point, my son investigated the evil chuckles and suggested I grow a mustache to twist or at least buy my own Mr. Bigglesworth to stroke.

Maass’s suggestions made me wonder…  how do you know when you’ve tormented a character enough? Clearly, the worst thing we could do is kill a character… at which point, the story’s over. So we can’t go completely over to the Dark Side.

Tell me what you think and suggestions for more ‘Master the Craft’ titles are always welcome.

See you in Hell, *laughs maniacally*



1 Response to "Take ’em to Hell and Back"

Oh! I’ve had this book on my to-get list for a while. I heard it’s wonderful.

Sounds like a lot of devious fun too. 🙂

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Hi! Welcome to my blog. I’m Patty.

I'm a writer represented by Denise Little, The Ethan Ellenberg Agency. I love to tell stories, to boast about my sons, to indulge in a serious chocolate obsession. (I often combine these passions.)

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