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Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-on Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed Paperback – 30 July 2004
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I believe this book will be inspiring for novelists of all genres. Writers who have progressed beyond the basics of their craft will benefit most. Beginners may not get the full benefit, although they should still be able to gain inspiration. The best time to use this book is when you've finished the first draft, and are ready to rewrite and revise it with more depth, more tension and more interest.
It's a large-format paperback and you can write the answers directly into the spaces provided, or in a notebook. I've done both. (Now when I open the book to do exercises for a new work of fiction, I see my old notes for that dark-epic fantasy novel and remember with a surprised smile that this was where certain ideas came from.) There's also a Kindle version, but I've heard from people who bought this that there are formatting problems which make the book nearly unusable.
Each assignment comes with information and samples from published novels. At times, this reads like a series of advertisements for books by his literary agency clients, and some people may find this grating. I don't mind, because the examples are well chosen to illustrate the point, and it makes sense that he chose his own clients' work, not just to promote them, but because he could get copyright permission for the excerpts. Something you need to be aware of is that some of the excerpts may not be to your taste - their content may cause offence. For this reason I wouldn't recommend the workbook to young readers.
Donald Maass' non-ficton book 'Writing The Breakout Novel' is interesting and readable, but you don't need it for the workbook. The workbook works well on it's own.
Its made me turn my present novel completely inside out. Authors can't see their own mistakes. This book helps you.
Warning. No magic solutions or short cuts are offered. There is no magic wand. Just well directed slog.
Read it, do what it says and you won't be disappointed.
Top international reviews
• Well organized.
• Explanations are clear.
• Defined action items.
• Easily digestible sections, so it's not overwhelming.
• Dives deep into your narrative, then gets to the marrow.
There is only one that I could find: This book could really use another pass on editing, especially in the exercises. Usually that would be enough for me to knock off a star, but this book's functionality, inspiration, and assistance with novel composition meant I just couldn't do anything under 5*.
Oh, how I wish it had a digital version.
Excellent workbook with a solid foundation, well organized, and exceptionally helpful. I would suggest it for any fiction author.
I admit this workbook is wonderful. With exercises given to a novelist, a person builds a wonderful story. I did every exercise and couldn't stop. I wrote 15,000 words just brainstorming. No, I didn't finish the project yet. It has so much depth. It will take me awhile to put everything together. But I know I'll never run dry.
The author of this workbook teaches you how to motivate your characters whose actions aren't predicted by readers, giving you tips how to build believable twists and suspense throughout.
This workbook teaches you how to build three dimentional characters. I wanted to say four dimentional, but the term doesn't exist. It goes beyond everything I have read on building three dimentional characters.
He shows you how to build the main plot, subplots, and how to deepen character layers. He combines and puts everything together as a package at the end. And indeed, anyone who goes over these excercise or not will never look the same way at characters and plots.
If you're wondering if this workbook contains the same information as the book, I tell you it is MUCH BETTER than a book. If you have to decide, choose this workbook because it gives you lessons throughout and expands on the information given in the book of this series. I did read the book. But the workbook contained ALMOST everything that's in the book and MORE.
The book does have just a tiny bit info that's not included in a workbook. I forgot what that tiny bit of info is. But I remember I made a mental note it wasn't so much important. That is most likely why I can't remember it now. It wasn't that important--go figure.
It's not only a book that will help you develop your writing skills, but shows you how to write a bestseller, as well as get your proposal past the rejection pile.
A glimpse into what to expect in this amazing book:
* Building plot layers
* Creating inner conflict
* Strengthening voice and point of view
* Discovering and heightening larger-than-life character qualities
* Strengthening theme
* And much more!
I loved the detailed references to several bestselling authors' novels. By the end of the workbook, I had a good list going of books to read and study.
Whether you are a new writer, or one that has been struggling for years, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, by DONALD MAASS is the book for you. Make it your next to purchase. You won't regret it.
I also liked how he took examples from good fiction and used them in his chapters to make his points and then you did something related. Yes, there is a little "extra" space in the workbook and I actually just used a notebook on the side rather than the workbook (I can use it again on my next novel, too). I ended up with PAGES of notes about different characters, what they would do, will do, could do, etc., based on the exercises in the workbook. This is definitely a helpful resource to give you ideas to improve your plot and characters. One of several good books on writing stories and novels.
Now as I push myself through the pages of the workbook, I understand the depth behind his lessons.
Be prepared to exorcise your inner self to create the best novel you can. Donald Maass is to writing as Tony Horton is to fitness, and 'Writing the Breakout Novel workbook' is the P90X of novel writing. He will make your brain sweat, push you beyond your comfort zone to show you how to get the most out of each character, flex your creative muscles as you go deep to develop your plots, while you heighten tension to deliver a novel, which cannot help but burn with cadence, resonate with readers, and leave them wanting more.
Is that not what you wanted to do? Write that Breakout Novel?
I wish you well in your endeavour.
I have read a number of 'how-to' books on fiction writing in general and novels in particular. For pure instruction with an entertaining style, these books by Donald Maass are the best.