Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (Part 16)

This entry is part 16 of 27 in the series Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass


Following up on the last painful lesson, here is another: no one will remember your pretty words, they will remember your characters.

Say that with me… now say it again.

I personally don’t have a hard time creating characters. In fact, I usually create too many and that is a problem unto itself. But there is so much fiction out there where the characters are just bland and boring. At least, that’s the case with literary fiction. Try it in popular fiction and your book won’t make it past the slush pile.

Real People vs. Larger-Than-Life Figures

Oh god. There is it again.

Larger-than-Life Characters

In other articles, I’ve written about my distaste for this term but there is no sense in rehashing that here. The fact is, you need larger than life characters and there is no better way to describe them other than saying larger than life characters. (how’s that for keyword density?)

If you don’t like larger than life characters, get over it. Get over yourself for that matter. Frankly, if you think you’re too good to write characters that break out of scenes and resonate in the reader’s mind, or that your prose will carry you through the absence of such characters, or your story premise is so good that no one will notice, you are screwed.

Sorry to be blunt, but this is more for my benefit than yours.

See, I sometimes wander off into this world called MineIsBiggerThanYours. It’s a great place really because it’s all about me and how wonderful I am. Of course, I am the only person who ever goes there. I am also the only person who is ever going to go there willingly. Don’t subject your readers to forced residency in your own version of this world. Get over yourself. Learn from my mistakes.

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