Friday 31 December 2010


DONALD MAASS photographed by Richard Mabry

Donald Maass on the Writer Unblocked Blog  wrote about the evolution of a character: the growth they make, and their transformation during the course of the novel. 
Create challenges, and obstacles (internal or external) which make achieving the goal difficult: this is not news. 
Donald Maass made the observation that for the transformation to have meaning, the character must mean something in the first place. 
The questions he said to ask your main character are soul-searching. I found today was an ideal day to ask them of myself:
  • Why do you matter? 
  • To whom do you matter? 
  • How would the world be poorer if you weren't in it? 
  • What are you better at than anyone else? 
  • What do you see or understand that no one else does?
  • What was the last thing you learned? 
  • What was the last thing you learned about yourself? 
  • What is the worst thing about this moment? What’s the best?

It is hard to live up to the expectations we have of our fictional characters. 
When you've finished self-examination, Donald Maass suggests picking several points in your story where your character gets to answer, on the page, the questions above. You are measuring your character’s development so the answers should be different each time. 
It is good job no one is taking a taking the measure of me, I'm afraid I still have some growing to do. With the first three questions in mind, my New Year's Resolutions have a very focussed feel.


  1. Focused isn't bad- I hope whatever goals you put towards your self this year- you do them well. Best of luck to you for 2011!

  2. Hi Summer
    My resolution is to turn " – your writing is strong and the concept interesting but that said I don’t think I’m the right agent for you" into the phone-call-type response.

  3. Important info since characters make our stories.

    Thanks for the addition to my revision binder.

  4. Hi Nancy
    Donald Maass is is Stephen King's big brother when it comes to speaking on writing ;)

    Hi Kay
    I'm glad you found them useful. I have the questions pinned up at eye-level.

  5. Hi Elaine: Thanks for the drop in. DR-7 isn't the end of manuscript. But thanks for the wishes.

    Happy 2011.

  6. Hi Ivy
    I've decided there is no such thing as the end of the manuscript; if you are lucky it gets ripped from your bloody fingernails as you try to make a-last-few alterations ;)

  7. Oh really? I do see ends of manuscripts and articles. I know other writers too though, that don't believe there is a such things as the end of the manuscript.

    I look forward to reading more about your writing process. Have a fun day.

    Happy Eating.

  8. Thanks, I'll have to put these in my writing help document.

    And Happy New Year to you Elaine.


  9. Hi Donna

    Happy New Year - here's to 2011!

    They are stringent questions. I like the idea of self-realisation for characters; I tend to show rather than tell the journey ;)