Writing the Breakout Novel

Writing the Breakout Novel

by Donald Maass


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Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Take your fiction to the next level!

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.

You'll learn to:

  • establish a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place
  • weave subplots into the main action for a complex, engrossing story
  • create larger-than-life characters that step right off the page
  • explore universal themes that will interest a broad audience of readers
  • sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish
  • develop an inspired premise that sets your novel apart from the competition

Then, using examples from the recent works of several best-selling authors - including novelist Anne Perry - Maass illustrates methods for upping the ante in every aspect of your novel writing. You'll capture the eye of an agent, generate publisher interest and lay the foundation for a promising career.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582971827
Publisher: F+W Media
Publication date: 08/15/2002
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 122,379
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.78(d)

Table of Contents

You Have the Power to Break Out
How to Use This Book
Chapter 1Why 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 2Premise33
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 3Stakes59
Creating High Human Worth
Public Stakes
Personal Stakes
Escalating Stakes
Your Own Stakes
Chapter 4Time and Place81
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 5Characters103
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 6Plot133
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 7Contemporary Plot Techniques163
The New Shape of the Novel
The Character-Driven Story
Self-Discovery in the Plot-Driven Novel
Nonlinear Narrative
Tension on Every Page
Chapter 8Multiple Viewpoints, Subplots, Pace, Voice, Endings181
Multiple Points of View
Successful Subplots
Narrative Pace
Chapter 9Advanced Plot Structures199
Families, Groups, Generations
Crossover Fiction
Whole Life
Out-of-Category Romance
Linked Short Stories
Inventing Your Own Advanced Plot Structure
Chapter 10Theme229
Having Something to Say
Step-by-Step Theme Building
Becoming Passionate
Right and Wrong in the Novel
The Protagonist's Declaration of Purpose
What Makes a Theme Universal?
Discovering Theme
Chapter 11Breaking Out247
Agent and Editor
The Pitch
Breakout Publishing, Breakout Living
Success, Sequels, Series and Beyond

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Writing the Breakout Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I previewed this book in the bookstore and then ordered it along with the workbook. Both delivered well (the workbook has a different angle from the book and is not redundant, therefore, very worthwhile). This book makes you look at your novel in a new way. I found there were many aspects to my story that I had failed to capitalize upon. The author (a literary agent) knows what sells. I found his taste in books to be a little on the commercial side, but he uses these examples well to make his points.
Bobby_Lewis More than 1 year ago
Worth every penny. Will take your writing to the next level.
tjwannabe More than 1 year ago
Maass provides suggestions and examples from well-known authors to support his points on how to develop all aspects of a novel. I would recommend this to all writers, at a minimum, as a reference for understanding and reminding yourself what makes a story a page-turner.
RebaTheWriter More than 1 year ago
This is the most amazing book I've ever read specifically on the subject of fiction writing. It is humurous, informative, whitty and captivating! Don't believe me? I wouldn't have believed me either...until I read it. Get the book! You won't be sorry!
Guest More than 1 year ago
With Donald Maass¿ ¿Writing the Breakout Novel¿ in your left hand, and Stephen King¿s ¿On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft¿ in your right hand, any would-be author is armed with a one-two-knockout punch for writing a successful novel. Maass offers and defines the realistic, no-fluff, must-have essential elements for a ¿breakout novel¿. King offers a down and dirty sketch for a daily regimen to achieve stickwithitness and success -- and he offers that for many nit-noy concerns you may have, you can ¿fuhgedaboutit¿! It¿s all here in two volumes, Maass and King, the one-two-knockout punch for writers. If you are serious about the craft and a career as an author, these are absofreakinglutely must-reads!!
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writerguyOH More than 1 year ago
Donald Maass has created a tool with this book and its accompanying workbook that every writer should have. It helps you critically examine your own work, or construct it more compellingly if you are just beginning. The exercises will force you to ask serious questions about your work, plot, characters, conflicts, and many other components in order to get the most out of a scene. For me, it also served as a source of great inspirations. Many of the "AH-HA" moments it inspired will be included in my work. A must have for every writer, from beginner to established.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely worth reading for writers and aspiring writers. It doesn't just tell you what a reader is looking for in a great novel, it tells you *how* to give it to them. It's very readable, very informative, and filled withe examples and anecdotes. I was surprised by how truly helpful this book was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maass does go beyond the usual bland advice found in how-to-write books in that he tries to say which methods produce better results. He discusses ¿Premise¿, Stakes, Time and Place, Characters, Plot, ¿Contemporary Plot Techniques¿ (¿nonlinear¿ narratives, character-driven stories), ¿Multiple Viewpoints, Subplots, Pace, Voice, Endings¿ (all in one chapter), ¿Advanced Plot Structures¿ (generational novels, whole life novels, historical novels, linked short stories), and Theme. His chapter on Stakes is particularly useful. The problem I have with the book is the usual one: that the book assumes that every reader (and the would-be writer reading this book) has more or less the same tastes. Some of the books held up as exemplary novels to learn from, I found appalling. Another problem is the attempt to please the avant-garde. An example is 'Nonlinear Narrative'. There is no discussion/evaluation of this experimental technique. Nor is there any mention of how few readers there are for such material. But that's okay, because the matter is immediately dropped after two pages anyway, and it's back to the thrillers again. Still, even when he's rehashing the same old ABCs, Maass does so in a lively way. So, beginning writers will certainly learn much from this book. And it is a valid point that Maass has not written a ¿breakout¿ novel himself, so how could this book tell us all we need to know to do it! It doesn¿t, but that does not mean that there isn¿t some useful information in the book. No serious writer should read only one book on writing. The only protection from the author's tastes is to read a variety of books--not as easy as it sounds because most of them have the same tastes and most say the same things in different words and with different examples.