Thursday, October 8, 2009


Thanks to the friends and colleagues who suggested things for my workshop at Asilomar. I'm mousing around on my own, of course, and found something that I can use and will pass on. It's a series of fill-in-the-blank statements and the cool thing about the series is that it talks about the antagonist. We all hear about the protagonist, but not so much about his shadow. So here's the prompt:

My protagonist's external goal is __________?
My protagonist's interior goal is ___________?
If my protagonist doesn't achieve this goal, then ___________?

My antagonist enters the story when_________?
My antagonist's deepest fear is _____________?
My antagonist's secret is __________________?

I'm the kind of writer who grinds things out daily and my characters' fears and goals bubble up that way. But I can see the value of answering questions like these. I'm sure they'd help anybody simplify a plot.

On another note, the Dodgers won their first play-off game, but it wasn't pretty.



  1. I love the questions. You could easily flip them around and ask the ones of the protagonist of the antagonist. I think my favorite question is, if they don't get their goal, then what? Isn't that the really big question in life and art? Seems like it to me, today.

  2. For the life of me, I can't remember where I found this, but this little paragraph has been fun to use:

    "Once upon a time, something happened to someone, and he decided that he would pursue a goal. So he devised a plan of action, and even though there were forces trying to stop him, he moved forward because there was a lot at stake. And just as things seemd as bad as they could get, he learned an important lesson, and when offered the prize he had sought so strenuously, he had to decide whether or not to take it, and in making that decision he satisfied a need that had been created by something in his past."

    Useful too for writing that cursed synopsis.

  3. Just when I think I don't need another writing exercise something terrific like this comes along. I am revising a novel and especially liked the question of when the antagonist shows up. Write on. Claire Rudolf Murphy

  4. That is wonderful. Thank you. I'm going to use it.

    If the Dodgers and the Twins meet in the World Series, can we give the blog over to baseball for the week?

  5. I now remember two more questions for the protagonist or antagonist,from the R.O.Butler workshop.

    16.If you don’t change something, what will the next important event be in your life?

    17.What regret do you have as you lay dying?