A Writer’s Library: Researching our Craft

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April 9, 2012 by msashtonwriter

Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Oh gracious. I’ve been waiting two years to get my hands on this book written by Donald Maass. He’s a well-known literary agent and has written other books geared toward writers.

FYI, Mr. Maass will be at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April.

What can I say? I read and reread the book. Although on the second round, it was a lot faster. It was more for highlighting and rereading sections that I somehow missed. Not sure how that happened, but I think that my two little ones helped with that.

This book is filled with good information. I laughed and took many notes. The laughter came when I read a part of a chapter and realized, “Oh yeah, I’ve done that.” 

The book deals with the essentials of writing your novel but it also focuses on the reality. The reality that surrounds you as a writer, your protagonist and your manuscript.

Chapters three and four are my favorites. One is titled Stakes and the other is Time and Place. In chapter three, he talks about public, personal, escalating, and your own stakes.

Out of all the books I’ve read, so far, I have never seen anyone touch on that subject in such detail. It was new for me. At the beginning, he poses a question that makes one think.

Now, on to chapter four. He discusses how to deal with the setting for your novel and that details in a manuscript is the secret ingredient of breakout settings.

I could go on, but then I would probably tell more than I should about the book.

BTW, after each chapter there is a Breakout Checklist. It was a great tool for someone like me who is a compulsive note-taker.

“Thank you, Mr. Maass for writing this.”

You can find the book at Writers Digest and Amazon.

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