Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas is another great resource for fiction writers. There is also a valuable workbook by the same name. I have used both in my training through CWG. Either resource could stand alone, because even though a lot of the material is the same, it’s not coordinated or formatted to correspond with each other. Example: Chapter One of the book is Why Write the Breakout Novel? Chapter One of the Workbook is on Character Development: From Protagonist to Hero.
What I like about the Workbook is that there are exercises at the end of each chapter that you can fill in yourself. At the end of each chapter of the book, there’s a checklist summary of the main points of the chapter. Examples follow.
- A breakout premise can be built
- Your favorite novels sweep you away, have characters you cannot forget, and involve dramatic and meaningful events.
- A break premise has plausibility, inherent conflict, originality and gut emotional appeal. And the list goes on.
Examples of the Exercise at the end of Chapter Two in the Workbook follow. Chapter Two of the Workbook is about developing multi-dimensional characters.
- Step 1: What is your protagonist’s defining quality; that is, how would anyone describe your protagonist? What trait is mot prominent in his personality? What kind of person is she (or he)? Write that down.
- Step 2: Objectively speaking, what is the opposite of that quality? Write that down.
So, have fun learning. Write that breakout novel, because it’s hard to break in to the writing field these days. The more excellent your book is, the better chance you give yourself to be published.
As Randy Newman’s song from “Monk” says, “Life just kills you. I might be wrong now. But I don’t think so. It’s a jungle out there. It’s a jungle out there.”
Have you got Tarzan or Allan Quartermain as your guide? If not, no worries. Donald Maas will help you navigate through the overgrowth, the weeds, and anything you need to help you write your breakthrough novel.