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Donald Maass's The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers Reviewed by Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on April 9, 2011
 

Author: Donald Maass

Publisher: Writer`s Digest Books

ISBN: 13-978-158297-990-8: 10-1-58297-000-1




Author: Donald Maass

Publisher: Writer`s Digest Books

ISBN: 13-978-158297-990-8: 10-1-58297-000-1

Click Here To Purchase The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers

Although I am not a novelist and nor do I aspire to become one, I nonetheless decided to take a stab at Donald Maass's The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies of Career Fiction Writers. I was not disappointed. This is an invaluable tool for not only the veteran writer that may have a few manuscripts under his or her belt, but also the novice that is willing to learn what it takes to write a breakout novel. It can best be described, as Maass does, "a story doctor on call-a kick start, a coach, a resource, and a friend to turn to at any stage of the process.” It should also be pointed out, as indicated in the introduction, that the book is not a refresher course on the basics. Readers are presumed to have control of their prose, understand that story is conflict, and you fully comprehend that a novel is built on scenes.

Drawing on his past publications on fiction technique, notably Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, The Career Novelist and The Fire In Fiction, Maass has put together a splendid reference tome akin to a series of workshops where he explains simply and understandably breakout basics, achieving breakout greatness and finally building a breakout career. Part one deals with the “nitty gritty” of premise, stakes, time & place, characters, plot, subplots, pace & endings, advanced plot structures, theme, and practical tools. From here Maass explores protagonists vs. heroes, characters who matter, scenes that can't be cut, the world of the novel, a singular voice, making the impossible real, hyper-reality, tension all the time, the fire in fiction. The final section of the book deals with the business of publishing and building a breakout career. In addition, the notebook provides a series of practical tools that will aid in reinforcing the various principles that are examined and explored.

The utility of this book is not just about fixing your writing problems but rather it serves as a booster where your story needs one. As Maass counsels, “use it to push yourself deeper into your characters, grow your story, and enrich its themes."

A good example of how useful the book is the chapter Protagonist Vs. Heroes. In this section, Maass explores how to create a bond between your readers and your protagonist. His basic advice- show your readers a reason to care. From there he goes onto examine a few ways to signal to your audience that your protagonist is worth the time. Another is the section concerning supporting or minor characters that are unforgettable. How do you create a secondary character whom readers will never forget.

Maass does an excellent job of delivering well-written comprehensive chapters that you get the feeling that you are attending 3-5 day workshops that throw in everything but the kitchen sink concerning the breakout novel. In addition, if you are serious about making your fiction vibrant, engaging, and marketable, this book will definitely compel you to reconsider a whole range of situations concerning your writing skills.


Donald Maass has more three decades in the publishing industry. He heads the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City, which represents more than 150 novelists and sells more than 150 novels every year to American and overseas publishers.

Click Here To Purchase The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers