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89 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some valuable nuggets of advice!
Donald Maass is a New York literary agent who seems to spend as much time promoting himself as he does his clients. Maass also does workshops on novel writing throughout the country, and this book, a companion publication for the more-in-depth WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, incorporates some of the exercises he assigns during those workshops.

I have read dozens of...
Published on November 8, 2004 by Dave Schwinghammer

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204 of 208 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One or the other, but not both
If you have "Writing the Breakout Novel," you don't really need the workbook. If you don't, this might be enough. It condenses "Writing the Breakout Novel." Each chapter deals with a topic (such as Exposition or Characterization) with some "workbook" pages at the end of each. The workbook exercises are basically questions with blanks (as opposed to charts or tables),...
Published on April 17, 2005 by Amazon Customer


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204 of 208 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One or the other, but not both, April 17, 2005
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This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
If you have "Writing the Breakout Novel," you don't really need the workbook. If you don't, this might be enough. It condenses "Writing the Breakout Novel." Each chapter deals with a topic (such as Exposition or Characterization) with some "workbook" pages at the end of each. The workbook exercises are basically questions with blanks (as opposed to charts or tables), which could just as easily be accommodated at the end of any book.

You certainly don't need both books. In either case, neither book will take you from idea to finished product. More accurately, both expect that you at least already have a work-in-progress, so an accurate title would be "REVISING the Breakout Novel."

I bought both books and I would suggest only one or the other. If you want some in-depth on topics, buy the book. If you want just the essence and a few questions for thought, buy the workbook.
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89 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some valuable nuggets of advice!, November 8, 2004
This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
Donald Maass is a New York literary agent who seems to spend as much time promoting himself as he does his clients. Maass also does workshops on novel writing throughout the country, and this book, a companion publication for the more-in-depth WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, incorporates some of the exercises he assigns during those workshops.

I have read dozens of writing books over the years; just about always I glean some valuable nuggets from each of them. Maass's workbook is no different. For instance, he suggests that the beginning novelist put off back story as long as possible to add tension and suspense. Maass stresses THERE CAN'T BE TOO MUCH TENSION in a novel. He suggests the writer add tension on every page!

Another segment I found useful was his section on plot development. He recommends using layers and subplots to add texture and believability to your work. Subplots are plot lines given to characters other than the protagonist; layers are additonal plot lines given to the main character. He uses Mystic River as an example. Sean Devine is a homicide cop who must investigate the murder of his boyhood friend Jimmy Marcus's daughter; his wife has also left him, taking their baby daughter with her; he also flashes back to the day when the principal suspect, Dave Boyle, was kidnapped by child molesters while he and Jimmy stood by and watched.

Maass reinforces his advice by furnishing a sample outline in an appendix. He insists that every novelist, whether he uses an outline in actual practice or not, must provide one for a possible agent or film producer eventually anyway, so he might as well learn how to do one.

Beginning writers should understand that writers never quit learning and that they should continually practice their craft. Baseball players and piano players practice continually, why not novelists? WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK will help you practice and head off possible mistakes.
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76 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the same as the Breakout book, March 13, 2007
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Reader (California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
Since he published Writing the Breakout Novel in 2001, Maass has taught a seminar of the same name at many writers conferences, and naturally learned from these experiences. The original book is here expanded by nearly three dozen exercises, which seem quite sensible, not hokey as are some by other teachers I've read.

I own the Breakout book and just now am comparing the workbook that I checked out of the local library. They're not the same, not by a long shot, despite what one reviewer here says. Though many sections have identical headers (such as Inner Conflict), they are completely rewritten, using different examples. The original book is 259 pages of 6x9, the workbook is 230 pp. of 8-1/2x11 format, thus it is by no means a condensation as TheCafeWriter asserts, and the original book is not necessarily more "in-depth." Some sections are, some aren't. The structure is substantially rearranged. Yet the concepts and the really fundamental points -- keep your story charged with tension, and so on -- do remain identical. These are essentially two complementary treatments of the same material by the same author

Maass asks his seminar participants to bring their in-process novels to perform exercises on, so the workbook is particularly useful if you are well into writing a novel already. With the discipline of the exercises, Maass teaches you to be your own draft doctor.

For me, there appear to be easily enough new perspectives and ideas here to warrant buying the workbook even though I have read the original and have it on my bookshelf.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eyeopener for Advanced Students of Fiction Technique, January 19, 2005
By 
Ruth M. Brown (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
What does an aspiring novelist do when they've read just about all the how-to books out there? This has become my own dilemma, since I've read over 30 of the best fiction writing books (often twice) and am still looking for new insights and pearls of wisdom. It's not a bad idea to read the basics of fiction writing multiple times, since repetition is the surest way to permanently absorb and remember all the many details one must know to succeed in the novel writing market. This is why I heartily recommend Maass' new workbook IF YOU HAVE MASTERED THE BASICS AND ARE READY TO TACKLE THE ADVANCED ASPECTS OF NOVEL TECHNIQUE. Reading his previous book, "Writing the Breakout Novel" is imperative, and having read it twice is even better preparation. By expounding on his previous book's instructions and providing over 500 individual tasks to aid in improving and refining what you've already written, Maass has written a workbook that should make a big difference to anyone willing to spend the time and energy required to write a truly great story. This book is not for beginners, and it's not for sissies, but if you are thoroughly committed to succeeding and have already written a substantial part of your manuscript, it can give you the help you need to put you over the top. Bookstores are full of mediocre novels that somehow got published. Donald Maass has set a new standard for excellence. If you're serious, get "Writing the Breakout Novel" and "The Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook," and go for it!
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good for learning to write . . ., December 28, 2004
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This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
"Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook" advises us in several places to 'make it move'. But Donald Maass could stand to take some of his own advice. The book's organization is poor, and the informational structure seems to rely more on sound bites than in-depth knowledge. Each chapter has a point to make, and uses an excerpt from bestseller fiction to make the point; the two problems with this are that the points do not stand on the fiction used to back them up, and that the fiction is not selected for quality, but for saleability.

If you're trying to write books of low quality that fly off the shelves and earn you a large check, I revise my rating upward, but only to three stars -- because, again, the advice structure doesn't go into detail enough to be useful, or hold together very well.

While we're at it, I understand this is a "workbook", but we're perfectly capable of bringing our own paper! Half the book is taken up by fill-in-the-blank notebook spaces -- very annoying in a 200-page, 20-dollar volume. They don't even allow enough room to complete the suggested exercises! I'm not too happy about these.

There are a couple of decent pieces of advice in here, but I don't think they're worth buying the book, and I plan to return it. The Elements of Fiction Writing series seems to have a lot more good in it, especially "Plot" by Ansen Dibell.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Hands On Exercises, August 13, 2006
This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
This book is most beneficial to writers who have already completed the first drafts of their manuscripts. The exercises made me review some of my characters' attributes and turn offs as well as making sure my secondary plots tied into my main plot. Mr. Maass' suggestions caused me to re-think my villians a little bit and show a side to them that could be somewhat empathetic. Also, adding tension on every page for me was tough, but I found creative ways to do it. I do believe my completed novel is better now after making suggested changes. I stuck to my own gut on some of the things he suggested I change, but overall I did use a lot of his advice. This is a good purchase but you must do the written exercises not just skim over them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I use this more than the actual book, October 7, 2007
By 
Reader 200 (N. CA, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
I have both workbook and book. I use this when I'm plotting or replotting a book. I find the exercises make me think hard about my stories and bring out my creativity. I'd definitely recommend it.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's like having a bestselling author right next to you, April 11, 2005
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This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
How much would it help your writing to have a bestselling author grab your hand and guide you as you work? CRAZY STATEMENT WARNING: This handbook is EVEN BETTER than the actuall book itself! (I have that one, too. It's good, but not THIS GOOD). I know that sounds impossible, but when you go through it, you'll see. The techniques, questions, and instruction just don't get any better. If I knew of a book more valuable than this one to aspiring writers, I would be reviewing it right now. But I'm not. This book is a MUST have by any serious author.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chuck the rest of my collection if I can keep this book, June 22, 2004
By 
Cassandra Ward (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
After attending one of Maass' BN workshops and diligently typing down all the questions he posed us, I preordered this book immediately.
This was everything I hoped it would be and more, even with the "heads-up" I'd gotten from the workshop. I've gone through the first section since receiving my copy and it's already made me rethink my heroes and all the impacts to the plot.
This is a definite keeper and I'll likely have to get another two copies for when I wear this one's spine to nothing.
If I could pass out more stars, this book would get fifteen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FINISHED, OR WRITING IN PROGRESS?, July 7, 2010
By 
W. S. Olsen "BooksRock" (Hickory, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Paperback)
Maass' workbook is terrific. My only problem while using it was that Maass intended for it to serve both as a companion piece as you write your novel, or as a workbook afterward. That makes it difficult at times. He asks questions that require you to be far along in your book, yet the whole purpose of the book is to ratchet up your novel to break out level. Still, after years of writing, and having read tons of writing books, I think his is one of the best. It does require you make your own way, it is not paint by numbers. The book does not do the heavy lifting for you. He says in the intro that you can do the exercises while writing. They require a lot of work, but in the end I do believe he is on to something, and I highly recommend the book.
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Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass (Paperback - June 14, 2004)
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