Day 6: Extreme psychic damage

The Write-a-thon continues! What have I been doing for two days, besides overeating?

In Dan Wakefield’s essay “How I Overhauled My Mechanic’s Novel,” his mechanic is startled to learn that he needs a protagonist to make his book work. He’s never heard of a protagonist. And he’s shocked when Wakefield tells him how much a protagonist is going to cost, even if they buy one secondhand from a book that was remaindered.

Fortunately for me, I know how to build my own protagonist. My question is what kind of protagonist to build. I know he is definitely a he and as manly, chiseled, and woke as his creator. But is he young? Old? How you define those words changes as you move from young to old. Are we in his head (first person)? Following him around (third person)? In and out of his head (Pink Floyd person)?

In an interview with the novelist Kent Wascom in the Spring/Summer Glimmer Train, Wascom says, “That first year or so for each book is about finding the shape. I follow a lot of different threads and try various voices. One lives. The others die….I’ve accepted that there’s probably a year of my process, if you add it all up, that is filled with false starts, pursuing different threads, and accepting it all as play.”

It’s good to know that I’m following the path blazed by a successful novelist, even if one year for him has been several years for me. Perhaps we live light years apart?

Here on my planet, I just gave my protagonist his third different name, and I’ve adjusted his age and background. I’m going to give him some misfits to hang with. Names are easy. What the characters do with those names is a tougher.

Character names I rejected for my book:

Chaka Cohen
Rimshot Korsakov
Sal Contrabando
Stan the Man Musical
Van Lingle Mungo
Vlad the Inhaler

Of his method Wascom said, “I think you an do this and not suffer extreme psychic damage if you’ve already published a novel.” Uh-oh.

Diet Day 6

Here at the office, after a week of birthdays and a celebration for a departing colleague for which every woman in the company baked a bundt cake, my diet was in sad shape. So I skipped lunch today and lost 5 pounds. Dieting: Solved!

2 thoughts on “Day 6: Extreme psychic damage

  1. Jerry Kaufman says:

    Good thing you abandoned those character names. Readers might have thought you were T Pynchon writing under a pseudonym.

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