Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

 I first read this book over a year ago, when I was having some serious concerns about my writing skills. Previously, my thought was I didn't want to take the time to read a book about writing when I could be spending my time actually writing. Know the feeling?

But this book changed the way I feel about the craft. I thought that since I am a trained legal writer, and have been successful at persuasive writing for the audience of clients, judges and adversaries, creative writing would come naturally. Not so much.

Sure grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary and other tools of legal writing don't hurt. But I learned from Donald Maass' book that the name of the game in creative writing is: CONFLICT. Sure there are many, many more facets that he discusses in this book, but really the one that he talks about more than any other is conflict: inner conflict, outer conflict, personal stakes, public stakes, ultimate stakes, active complications, tension, brewing tension, etc. While all these elements are slightly different in context (Mr. Maass spends a chapter on each one of these) they all add up to one thing: more and more conflict...with a dash more conflict.

This book is a quick read, with real practical help and suggestions to strengthen your story.  I know a lot of you out there might have already read it. Its one of the more popular writing books, endorsed by a ton of people. Totally worth the time. Even for someone like me, who hates to waste any precious writing time. I only get so much!

And btw, today B is for BREAKOUT! Let's all write a Breakout novel:)

14 comments:

  1. Ooh, I remember reading that book a while ago. I should go pull out the notes I took. Thanks for the reminder!

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  2. Aha! I just bought this book off Amazon and haven't dived into it. Looking forward to it though; I've heard it's really good/helpful! Have a great week. :)

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  3. Ok, B&N or Amazon, here I come. I always love learning more about writing, but you're right... its hard to take the time away from writing. You feel like you're moving backward instead of forward. Glad you shared this. I am definitely going to give it a read. :)

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  4. I have been eyeing this book for a while. I should probably get off my duff and read it ;)

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  5. Hi Jessie. Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by my blog and following. I've been writing for well over a decade and am still learning, learning, learning. I don't think that will ever end!

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  6. That is an excellent book. You put the helpfulness more sufficiently than I would have. Got to love conflict and tension.

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  7. I love that book! The only problem was that it was so much to take in! I think I need to re-read it (and probably again every single year) and hope that things will stick a bit more this time. I'm about to start plotting my next book-- NOW would probably be a really wise time to get on that.

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  8. This really is a great book on writing. Now if only I remembered half of it. :P

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  9. Hi Jessie! I'm so glad you found my blog, and I'm definitely digging yours already. I actually haven't read this book, but it sounds great, so I think I'm in! Can't wait to explore your site some more! :)

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  10. I've seen this book on the shelf at B&N several times and I have seriously thought of buying it, but I didn't know if it was any good. I guess I got my answer!

    Samantha

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  11. This book rocks.

    yeah. I look at EACH scene in my books - What does my person want? What happens to keep them from getting it, OR if they get it, what's the next step, the next thing they want, and how will they not get that?

    It's constant.

    Oh, how we torture our people . . .

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  12. I haven't seen this book before but it sounds great! Conflict is definitely the core of any good story. Here I go to spend more money. :)
    Thanks for joining my site!

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  13. That's a great book. I sometimes feel the same way--I should spend my time writing not reading about writing. But every time I do, it recharges my writing batteries and I learn how to be a better writer.

    BTW, another great writing book is The Art of War for Writers.

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  14. I've read this one before, and it was really good :)

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