Monday, June 7, 2010

Review of Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas

Countless books have been written about the writing trade. Few, however, are able to achieve what this book does. In a witty, engaging style, Maas guides his readers upon a journey through the most important elements of crafting, not just a “breakout” novel, but a superb novel. Like so many authors have done in similar works, he discusses premise, time and place, characters, plot, and theme, as well as miscellaneous other factors. But, unlike so many other authors, he does more than simply point out the necessity of such components—he explains, using examples from an array of successful fiction, just how to achieve excellence in each of these areas.



Maas’s focus is primarily on bestselling genre fiction, and in some instances his emphasis can seem skewed toward writing stories that sell versus stories of quality. Happily, however, since the best stories often fit both categories, his information provides a useful foundation for any writer wanting a solid overview of the elements that constitute a good story.
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10 comments:

  1. I need to get that one. I'm reading The Fire in Fiction right now and it is really good, too.

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  2. I need to get this one. I read The Fire in Fiction first--which is where my New Year's resolution came from: to read every book Maass used as an example in his how-to.

    Everything you said about Writing the Breakout Novel applies to The Fire in Fiction, except I don't remember him concentrating so much on genre fiction . . .

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  3. Haven't read Fire in Fiction, but Breakout is an important foundational book, IMO. Perhaps Fire in Fiction advances the concepts in this one?

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  4. I have Bell's book on revision on my wishlist. Linda says it's excellent.

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  5. Sounds like a helpful read. I like to see examples but as you say, not many books offer that.

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  6. Maas is marvelous about exemplifying his teaching. You'll come away from his book with a whole list of things to read!

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  7. I'm not sure I really want to write a "breakout novel," or I'd have to pay for the damage. LOL

    Though I don't have Maass' book, I do have several books on writing in my library, and they have been invaluable. So has my 4-yr. 3-mo. tenure at christianwriters.com. Too bad I can't afford to buy as much as I want! (I'm sure I'm the only one with that problem ... yeah, right.)

    ~ VT

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  8. It does sound a little dangerous, doesn't it! ;)

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  9. I have read Maass' Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel cover to cover, and have nothing but praise for this man. He knows his stuff and wants to help you. Had the pleasure of speaking to him personally about a partial request, which was ultimately declined, but he was a wonderful person to get insight from.

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  10. Maass puts out wonderful stuff. It's great to see a respected agent putting the time and effort into helping writers.

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