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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

My initial reactions:


"Dang it!  Why didn't I finish reading this eons ago?"  [It is a fluke I found the book the other day in one of many writing bags I use to cart all my stuff to CP meetings.]


"Okay.  I actually did some of what he recommends in my books."

Since I'm an author on a budget, I purchased only the workbook (a couple years earlier), and not its companion book.  Still, I found the workbook to be a standalone genius.

So, without spilling the copyrighted beans, here's a quick overview to both scare you and encourage you.

There are thirty-four chapters brimming with advice from Donald Maass, literary agent extraordinaire.  All nicely incorporated into his forty-item checklist in Appendix B.  But . . . and I quote:  "There are 591 steps required."  Take a breath.  It will be alright.  Because, as Donald Maass is fond of saying--put conflict on every page--that one item makes up the bulk of the steps, 350 of them.  So, 241 are left to be assigned to the other thirty-nine action steps.

As an added bonus in the workbook, you get to read some great examples from wonderful authors and I've added several more names to my To Read list.

If you have been an author for any length of time, some of his Breakout Requirements will resonate.  Your head will nod.  You'll say, "Yeah, I've heard that one before."

Have you used it yet?  In one of your own creations?

That's the kicker.

And those sort of human interjections show up in the workbook.

Donald Maass's common-sense breakdown of these factors is amazing.  Sure, I've seen some and recognized them before I read them here.  Yet still others . . . were mysteries.  Not now.  After reading Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (I started over from page one for a full and comprehensive intake of the material today), it all makes rational, relatable logic.

I know I've learned something--really retained the subject, the substance, the structure--when I can summarize it for my author friends, off-the-cuff, without benefit of notes.  On this Saturday, June 9, 2012, I amassed a multitude.  Granted, I probably won't be able to recall the checklist topics in toto, but I'm betting I'll improve with every application to each novel I compose.

Thank you, Donald Maass, for sharing your expertise with us.

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor + blogger
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

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