More exercises for middles

1. Choose a short story or novel you know well, one in which the protagonist undergoes a significant character change. Consider:

a. What did the character want in the beginning of the story?

b. What did she want by the end?

c. Which experiences helped change her? List them.

d. How did the author show that the character was even capable of change?

2. Repeat the above exercise for one of your own finished stories. Do you see places where characterization is weak? Could you improve it by adding a scene, or by supplementing existing dialogue, thoughts, description or action?

3. Invent a character who wants something contrary to what readers would ordinarily expect. Write a few pages of interior monologue for this character in which he explains and justifies what he wants, why he should have it, and how he's going about getting it. Try to make him sound convincing and natural.

4. Using the same character, write a two-person conversation in which he tries to persuade another character to join him in whatever he's doing. The other person resists. Try to make both characters' dialogue sound natural. Is there a story idea here?

5. Choose a story in the genre in which you want to write (mystery, literary mainstream, science fiction, romance, etc.). Pick a story that you recall as having a memorable villain. Reread it. What is the villain's motivation? Is it clear? If so, how is it made clear? If not, would this be a better story if the villain were motivated by something other than pure nastiness? Given the villain's circumstances, what might these motives have been?

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