- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 158297182X
- ISBN-13: 978-1582971827
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 250 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider Advice for Taking Your Fiction to the Next Level
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From 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Donald Maass is the author of 17 novels. He works as a literary agent, representing dozens of novelists in the fantasy, crime, mystery, romance, and thriller categories. He speaks at writer's conferences throughout the USA.
Top customer reviews
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For me this book was at times a challenge because it made me take a good honest look at the kind of story I have been writing and assess whether or not it has commercial value. One can sit back and be a "know it all" about art and divine inspiration, but we still have to live in the real world and the best way to ensure that we have the wherewithal to continue to write is to get paid and get paid well.
This book tells it straight. It doesn't always give you a warm fuzzy, but in the end you'll grow, like so many things in life.
But I will say this, beginning writer: I don't know if this book will help. Eight years ago I refused to pick it up because I wasn't ready for it. I was better off just writing and finding my craft. That said, in retrospect, I wish I had.
We are all masters of our own destiny.
My only knock was the material was dated. When it was written in 2002 the Kindle hadn't been invented yet and self-publishing was more of a niche ploy to find an audience. I happily plan on self-publishing and don't really care about my pitch to literary agents, hobnobbing with elitist New York publishers, or book tours. I'm not trying to get rich off my novel. Instead, I only want to craft the best story possible for the delight of my readers, and this book certainly provided the necessary advice for that.
If you like reading try some of my favorite fantasy and sci-fi authors: Richard Adams, Palo Bacigulupi, Suzanne Collins, Abe Evergreen, Diana Gabaldon, Hugh Howey, George Martin, Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, and Andy Weir.
If you’re looking for good stuff to watch consider miniseries like The Astronauts Wives Club (2015), Band of Brothers (2001), Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000), Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune (2003), Into the West (2005), Lonesome Dove (1989), Manhattan (2014-2015), Return to Lonesome Dove (1993), Pride and Prejudice (1995), Taken (2002), and The 10th Kingdom (2000), which are all terrific because they have clear beginnings that establish an objective, then strong middles and conclusive endings where the goal is achieved, like a good novel.
Other shows I’ve really enjoyed include Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), Breaking Bad (2008-2013), Cowboy Bebop (1998), Downton Abbey (2010-2015), Firefly (2002), Game of Thrones (2011-2019), Granite Flats (2013-2015), The IT Crowd (2006-2013), Jericho (2006-2008), Lost (2004-2010), Merlin (2008-2012), The Prisoner (1967-1968), Rome (2005-2007), Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011), Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010), Stargate: SG-1 (1997-2007), Stargate: Atlantis (2004-2009), Star Trek (1966-1969) and Star Trek Voyager (1995-2001). I didn’t list any contemporary series I’m following that don’t have an end date yet, not conducive to binge watching from beginning to finish.
If your a writer or an aspiring writing, read this book before you do anything else.
I cannot offer the perspective of a seasoned novelist, but as an avid reader and beginning writer, I found Maass's perspective very helpful. He describes the interplay of elements within a novel, always stressing that time and care can turn a novel from good to extraordinary. Along the way, he cautions against envy of other writers, the lure of the high advance, and signing with the wrong agent, but above all, he stresses one fact: it comes down to the writing. The way to become a brand author is to keep delivering excellent work that delights your readers.