Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Writing the Breakout Novel
Have you read this book?
Yes, I know. I know. It's old.... Like 2001 old. Old, as in Donald Maass says somethings like this, old: a terrorist attack by middle Easterners isn't a legitimate fear in the U.S.; and the e-publishing world may or may not make a big impact in the lives of readers and authors. BUT, besides all that outdatedness, it's a wonderful book on developing your craft.
You know I'm big on reading writing books. In fact it's something that is ALWAYS included on my current list of goals. I just finished this one and found a bunch of tidbits of wisdom.
Here are some of my favorite points Maass makes when teaching us about the "breakout" novel:
*He suggests you chart all of your characters, their traits, likes and dislikes. If several are similar, they can be combined. The key to several memorable characters is contrast.
*He suggests "breakout" settings are defined by how the character sees each scene, not how an author sees it.
*He talks about having tension on every page.
*To write a breakout novel, he says your premise must be outstanding. Take your original idea and build upon it. Ask, "but what if?" or "how could it get worse?"
*He teaches about the importance of upping the private and public stakes.
This book was great, and even though it's an old read, I'd suggest it. There were a few parts I thought were oddly placed such as his advice on how best to budget your upcoming six-figure advance, but most the advice was relevant to writers at any stage in their careers.
I was so motivated by Writing The Breakout Novel that I rewrote my premise and synopsis and have been building off of it in my current novel.
What writing tidbits of wisdom have you received lately? Maybe from a conference, a how-to book, or another author. Share.
Posted by Maggie at 1:57 PM