Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider Advice for Taking Your Fiction to the Next Level

Overview

Maybe you're a first-time novelist looking for practical guidance. Maybe you've already been published, but your latest effort is stuck in mid-list limbo. Whatever the case may be, author and literary agent Donald Maass can show you how to take your prose to the next level and write a breakout novel -- one that rises out of obscurity and hits the best-seller lists.

Maass details the elements that all breakout novels share -- regardless of genre -- then shows you writing ...

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Overview

Maybe you're a first-time novelist looking for practical guidance. Maybe you've already been published, but your latest effort is stuck in mid-list limbo. Whatever the case may be, author and literary agent Donald Maass can show you how to take your prose to the next level and write a breakout novel -- one that rises out of obscurity and hits the best-seller lists.

Maass details the elements that all breakout novels share -- regardless of genre -- then shows you writing techniques that can make your own books stand out and succeed in a crowded marketplace.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In today's world, an author who doesn't produce a breakout novel risks getting lost in the midlist of the publishing world. Maass, the author of 17 novels who now works as a literary agent representing such distinguished writers as Anne Perry and James Patterson, knows firsthand what makes a novel rise above its category in the already saturated book market. Using his own clients as case studies, Maass defines the most crucial elements of a breakout novel a powerful sense of time and place, larger-than-life characters, a high degree of tension, good subplots, and universal themes and shows the reader how to use these elements efficiently to write a novel that will generate interest and have the potential to hit the best sellers lists. Each section ends with checklists for review. Recommended for all public libraries serving communities with struggling writers. Lisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898799958
  • Publisher: F+W Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/10/2001
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 1
Introduction 5
You Have the Power to Break Out
How to Use This Book
Chapter 1 Why Write the Breakout Novel? 15
The Truth About Book Publishing
The Truth About Authors
The Myths of Success
The E-Revolution
Where to Go From Here
Chapter 2 Premise 33
The Stories That You Love
Four Facets of Three Great Novels
The Little Components of Big Ideas
Build It and the Breakout Premise Will Come
Brainstorming the Breakout Premise
Chapter 3 Stakes 59
Creating High Human Worth
Public Stakes
Personal Stakes
Escalating Stakes
Your Own Stakes
Chapter 4 Time and Place 81
The Psychology of Place
Keeping Up With the Times
Working With Historical Forces and Social Trends
God at Work in the World
The Secret Ingredient
Chapter 5 Characters 103
Real People vs. Larger-Than-Life Figures
What Makes a Character Larger-Than-Life?
Dark Protagonists
The Highest Character Qualities
Building a Cast
Advanced Character Relationships
Sidekics and Narrators
Depth and Differentiation of Character
Chapter 6 Plot 133
Conflict
The Five Basic Plot Elements
Bridging Conflict
What is the Worst That Can Happen?
High Moments, Turning Corners, Killing Characters
Structuring Plot
Larger Plot Structures
Chapter 7 Contemporary Plot Techniques 163
The New Shape of the Novel
The Character-Driven Story
Self-Discovery in the Plot-Driven Novel
Nonlinear Narrative
Tension on Every Page
Chapter 8 Multiple Viewpoints, Subplots, Pace, Voice, Endings 181
Multiple Points of View
Successful Subplots
Narrative Pace
Voice
Endings
Chapter 9 Advanced Plot Structures 199
Families, Groups, Generations
Thrillers
Crossover Fiction
Whole Life
Historicals
Out-of-Category Romance
Linked Short Stories
Inventing Your Own Advanced Plot Structure
Chapter 10 Theme 229
Having Something to Say
Step-by-Step Theme Building
Symbols
Becoming Passionate
Right and Wrong in the Novel
The Protagonist's Declaration of Purpose
What Makes a Theme Universal?
Discovering Theme
Chapter 11 Breaking Out 247
Agent and Editor
The Pitch
Outlines
Breakout Publishing, Breakout Living
Success, Sequels, Series and Beyond
Index 261
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2007

    GRAIN OF SALT

    Full of great tips for beginning and established writers, but although its inclusive of all genres and style, the breakout novel favours best sellerism and its emphasis on tension and plot might be sometimes at the expense of other elements that make for a damn good read. There is, true, lots about character and depth of character, setting and its meaning, but I still came away with the feeling that rapid page turning was the only hallmark of a good novel. I'm not sure about that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2002

    To the heart of the matter

    <br> Donald Maass offers no-nonsense advice about how to get from point A, a desire to write, to point B, a successful narrative. And he doesn¿t pull any punches.<br> <br> From the Introduction on, he puts responsibility for a good story squarely on the shoulders of the storyteller. I loved the way Maass makes the connections clear: readers pay the bills, readers want good stories, and good stories come only through hard work. From there he touches on the elements of a narrative that you¿d expect, setting, character, plot, and theme, but with his broad experience and his concise explanations, there is precious little that you¿ll feel like skipping over.<br> <br> On the subject of setting, Maass describes how the environment of the story should be approached as an interior design project. The background and the details are all resources for creating a specific psychological effect. For characterization, he promotes the time-honored phrase ¿Show, don¿t tell,¿ but does it slant, by explaining how a character¿s choices help the reader to measure the character. And in discussing plot, Maass unveiled to me one of those principles that I¿d always known, but never recognized that I knew. He talks about tension, and refers to it often, placing it at the heart of a successful story. The pattern he promotes reminded me of the sparkplug in a car ¿ there needs to be a regular spark of tension to drive the reader forward through the events.<br> <br> The insight that may be my favorite from the entire book comes in the chapter about theme. Maass frankly asserts that all stories are moral ¿ they are all expressions of someone¿s ideas about what is and isn¿t important. I¿ve long held to the idea that telling stories is more than just entertainment or distraction, and so I¿m grateful to Maass for arguing that point so well.<br> <br> Beyond that, I appreciate Maass¿s efforts throughout the book. His insights are meaningful, his tone is straightforward, and the book, overall, is a worthwhile investment

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2010

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