Weekend Workout: The Wound (Character – Action Part 2 of 6)

Haha, fooled you. I’m not home. But I have scheduled several posts to go live while I’m away. There will be a guest from the Magic Appreciation Tour, a special weekend workout from Jack Remick, and possibly a few more.

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Last Friday I talked about characters being a sum of their actions, and those actions motivated by our complex human emotions. So much influences what we do and say and don’t do and don’t say. Next Friday, Jack will show you how those emotions drive our characters.

by Michael v Malano

Our “uncomfortable” emotions stem from our wounds.
We are all walking wounded.

One of the reasons I love John Green’s stories is because he creates such great wounded characters. Right now I’m reading WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON and we can see how both of the Wills are wounded, afraid to trust/feel/love, and we want to slap them. We know exactly what they need to do. They need to tell the truth about who they are (to themselves and others).

Most people love their wounds. Seriously. Stewing in their wounds means they get to be right. The world sucks. My life sucks. Many people would rather be right than be happy. So they keep running into things that trigger their wounds and then say, “See! I was right. Nothing but suckage.”

Until they finally lose something too valuable to not do something about it. If we do something about it, we have a happy ending. If not, a tragic self-destruction.

The characters who poke those wounds are the antagonists. The straight Will Grayson’s friend Tiny is everything Will swears he hates, but he’s strangely drawn to him. Every time Tiny opens his mouth, he’s poking poor Will’s wounds.


Set your timer for 5 minutes.
Start at the top of the page with the following startline: 

1) The wound that shapes my protagonist’s life formed when . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

When the timer stops, Set your timer for 7 more minutes.
Start with the following line:

2) My Antagonist pokes my protagonist’s wound when he . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

When the timer stops, Set your timer for 10 more minutes.
Start with the following line: 

3) The tragic thing my protagonist loses that motivates him to finally change is  . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

Read your exercises, make notes, highlight what makes sense.

Happy Weekend!


  1. tracikenworth
    Mar 17, 2012

    Great advice!!

  2. 4amWriter
    Mar 18, 2012

    Gosh, so true. Even in real life. I know many who suffer from the “why does everything happen to me” syndrome. And they are the ones who don’t do anything to change it.

    The ones who are suffering, and who do change, are the more interesting people to be around. Same is true in fiction. Who wants to read about a self-destructive protag? No more than anyone really wants to be around a self-destructive friend.

    Thanks for the cool workout.

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