- 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: 246 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,539 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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If your a writer or an aspiring writing, read this book before you do anything else.
As an author and world-class literary agent, Donald Maass has the credentials to advise fiction writers. He explains in detail why readers read and what they crave. Then he tells you how and why you should tantalize them, lead them on from one gut-wrenching chapter to the next, and finally how to satisfy them. In short, how to turn a good story into a great one. And he follows his own advice. He keeps you begging for more all the way to the end.
Thank you, Donald Maass.
Frank Allan Rogers, author Upon A Crazy Horse
These sorts of books, you expect to get a lot of repetition of things you already know, and you sift through them to find the little gems that are worded in a slightly different way than usual in order to finally break through your skull and explode in sunshine and rainbows all over your brain. This book has a lot more of those gems than I expected, and it also explored some new topics that I haven't read about elsewhere. I particularly liked the discussion about the interaction between characters and their settings. I loved the assertion that writers should be opinionated... and how to deal with that without alienating your audience. In the past, I've always tried to keep my opinions OUT, but now it seems Donald Maass has given me something to think about.
This book is geared towards professional mid-list writers, so there were definitely portions of this book that were not relevant to my purposes. I didn't mind reading though it all anyway. It was interesting.
I found this book to be helpful and insightful, and I think that if any of you other novices are interested in picking it up, you'll learn a lot from it. Just.. relax and try not to get too overwhelmed when you realize you need to make some big changes in your current project. After all, that's why your reading a book on writing instead of actually doing the writing... isn't it?
Some great advice in here. Each chapter has a bulleted summary at the end that I found to be pretty worthless. The real value lies in the scattered questions posed to the reader, aka potential writer. It would have been better to collect these questions at the end of each chapter as a reminder that these are things you should be asking yourself as you're conceptualizing and writing your novel. Perhaps he's saved this for the workbook? The questions I thought most useful I jotted down on index cards so I can pin them to walls and be forced to look at them.
Also, a lot of title dropping. I now have a massive to-read list. There's a pun in there somewhere. Word of warning here, though: If you have not read Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg and were of a mind to do so, read it before you read this book. Inexplicably, Maass felt the need to give away the ending.
As for how to use this book, I'm glad I read it through once before writing anything so I have all these thoughts and snippets swirling in my head, but I think it's best used as a second-read workbook while writing or revising a working draft of a manuscript.
While I have to take off a point for the useless summaries, the lack of a concluding chapter, and because he gave away the ending of a story I haven't read yet, which just kind of pissed me off, overall it's a great read for people interested in writing.
Yes, it is one of the best books every fiction writer should have. But what you might not know is that the author expanded what he knew and came out with a workbook. And the workbook is more valuable than the book itself!
If you have a book, don't despair. It's a great read and contains almost everything that's in workbook. And, it does include a tiny part that's different. But if you didn't get the book yet and have to choose, get the workbook. You won't regret it.