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Book Review: The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers by Donald Maass

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Donald Maass, an agent for over thirty years, sees far too many manuscripts that are just not great, with no clue as to why. But then he sees many terrific novels and knows they will succeed. The Breakout Novelist is geared to writers who already know how to write a novel and are ready to take their skill to the level of mastery.

Reading The Breakout Novelist, you will finally understand the meaning of “universal theme,” and learn how to make sure your novel has impact, not just for you, but for your readers. Early on, Maass moves us into the work of building the premise for a truly breakout novel with a credible and original story. He provides a seminar’s worth of examples from well-know works of great authors.

Who better but this veteran agent to talk you through the four facets of a great novel? By example, Maass shows us how to find the keys to plausibility, inherent conflict, originality, and gut emotional appeal. He then explains precisely how to interpret and mold these traits into your writing.

You’ll be encouraged by these efforts when your act of discovery reveals what your novel is really about, and what it needs to hold an agent spellbound. “No breakout novel leaves us feeling neutral. A breakout novel rattles, confronts, and illuminates.”

When we think of successful fiction writers, we may not realize the distance they’ve traveled to become career novelists; people who can deliver one bestseller after another. With work, and using Maass as your coach, you can master the techniques to produce a flawless novel, and find a ready market too, despite trying times in the publishing industry.

Maass teaches us to work at little harder with words, and enjoy creating satire, humor, and the magic of hyperbole, with examples that help you bring your writing to life.

In the chapter on publishing, which is valuable for all writers, the author covers promotion with a realistic view of the impact of reviews, contests, giveaways and the like. “Promotion is cumulative,” says Maass. It only reallly works to reinforce a pre-existing relationship between a reader and an author.”

Finally, Chapter 21, “Status Seekers & Storytellers,” will reveal the startling differences between commitment and sustained success… the difference between getting frustrated, and being willing to do whatever it takes for true success.

There is much that is new, fresh and inspiring in The Breakout Novelist. It does not sugar-coat the truth for all writers: being an author is very hard work. Yet you’ll be motivated to polish your novel and explore the way to make your work stand out, through your perspective and your distinctive personality. Finding the power buried in your novel is not about finding its theme… It is about finding you, “your eyes, experience, understanding, and compassion.”

About Helen Gallagher

  • http://carolinegerardo.com/ Caroline Gerardo

    I ordered it. If only I could read everything and complete my list

  • http://www.releaseyourwriting.com Helen Gallagher

    You’ll like it Caroline. It’s full of highly motivating strategies and worksheets, even spiral bound so its easy to work with.

    Thanks for your comment,
    Helen