Kari J.'s Reviews > Writing the Breakout Novel

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
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Mar 30, 2010

it was amazing


I’m still a few pages from being done with Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel and WOW.

For YEARS, I have been looking for what I consider the “perfect” writing book. And every time I go to a bookstore, I find yet another book on writing (or some aspect) I find to be utterly indispensible. I must have them.

I’m not going to talk about how many writing books I have. Let’s just say… A few.

However, there are only a few books I would recommend to people. A lot of the books I’ve purchased are… Well, they tend to repeat the same things over and over again. Just in different ways.

This one does not. In fact, Writing the Breakout Novel has a TON of information you don’t see in other writing books. Why? I have no idea–but this information feels more like the information I have tried to find.

This is a MUST READ for any writer–fiction or nonfiction.

Donald Maass is a literary agent–yes, one of those people we all would love to have represent us. In fact, he represents some of the big names in the industry: Robert McCammon, Anne Perry, Elizabeth Bear… You can find a list of his clients on his webpage.

And this book is a book EVERY writer needs to have on his/her shelf.

Maass takes a look at “breakout novels”–the novels that get their author’s names about–and dissects them for their unique attributes. What makes a novel great? This book tells you what this agent thinks using examples from contemporary works as well as his own years of experience reading submission after submission.

He tells us what ideas that beginning novelists like to use and then proceeds to tell us why it usually doesn’t work. He gives us alternatives to these ideas as well as showing when they actually MIGHT work and how successful authors used them.

The examples Maass uses are from many different types of novels including both genre and literary fiction. Yep, there are spoilers for the books–but we’re not really reading for pleasure, are we? I’m making a list of the books and categorizing them into books I want to read in order to study what the author has done. I probably won’t read them all, but the ones that stand out for me, I’ll be all over.

Maass has also published a workbook to compliment this book. It includes examples as well as exercises to incorporate Maass’s ideas and thoughts into your novel. I’ll be using this and The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great to work on making my current WIP better than ever. I’ll probably use it also to go back and help flesh out my NaNoWriMo novel from 2008 as well.

I’m also a graduate of Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways class as well as her How to Revise Your Novel class. I think Maass’s work will be a substantial source of information to help me along my journey.

I’m glad I bought this book–and I’ll be using it MUCH more than most of my others.
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March 30, 2010 – Shelved
March 30, 2010 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Amen

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