Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My Novel Revision Camp Update

After subjecting my manuscript to a lengthy revision process/workshop, I have come to the realization that my novel’s failure to progress all the way through the submission process may be the result of having unintentionally created an unlikable protagonist.

So, in an effort to create more reader empathy for my protagonist, these are the things I assume about people/readers that I hope to infuse into my protagonist’s characterization.

1. People feel empathy for people who are haunted by an unfortunate tragedy in their life, like the death of a parent, a previous illness, or unwarranted misfortune.

2. People feel supportive of people that are at the beginning of their realization that their hardened shells may be their weakness—not their strength.

3. People long to simplify their lives, to become more child-like, but they dislike childish people.

4. People root for the underdog, as long as the underdog is worthy, and making some attempts—however misguided—to fight back.

5. People want to see other people realize happiness, if they deem them worthy and genuine, not winy and smug.

6. People are capable of developing empathy for people who have made mistakes in their lives, as long as the mistakes are not merely a series of bad decisions that seem to indicate that someone is hell bent on self-destruction.

7. People are encouraged by stories of a weak person that becomes stronger.

BUT . . .

People are NOT going to see those things in my story, if I do not shine a narrative spotlight on them.

Interestingly enough, in the book I just finished reading, Little Children, by Tom Perrotta, the 2nd and 5th elements where the only elements of developing reader empathy that I could identify, yet that proved to be enough to keep me reading a book populated with unlikable protagonists.

I am encouraged by the changes I have made in my manuscript, and I just received several new requests for partials from agents I continued to query while undergoing my revision. I should know soon whether I have made the right changes.

COMING SOON . . . M is for May. M is for Mother’s Day and M is for Mothering Mother, my book review of a great new memoir http://www.amazon.com/Mothering-Mother-Daughters-Humorous-Heartbreaking/dp/160164003X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-6809464-7483068?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1178038115&sr=8-1 Kunati Publishing http://www.kunati.com/ A MUST read for members of the “sandwich generation” Boomers taking care of both their own children and their elderly parents.

1 comment:

Paprikapink said...

Have you read "Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy O'Toole? One of my all-time favorite books with one of literatures all-time dislikeable protaganists. In fact every character in it is unlikeable. Which is a large part of the book's charm. For me anyway. And no growth! None!