Writing to Breakout II – Plot

breakout workbookThis week, we’re looking at Donald Maas’ Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. My goal is to inspire and educate you to the basics of writing, and hopefully help you find resources to enhance your writing.

Yesterday, we looked at Lessons 1-12, Part I, Character Development from Donald Maas. The lessons covered everything from adding heroic qualities to a protagonist (the one we root for), to antagonists, to enriching the major cast with secondary characters. I listed one point from each, and encouraged you to acquire this workbook and complete the fill-in exercises at the end of each lesson to help you grow your novel.

Today – I’ll be listing the lessons from Plot Development with a “nugget” from each. This unit covers Lessons 13 to 24, everything from raising the stakes, complications, layering plot lines, subplots, turning points, conflict, and adding tension.

Part II – Plot Development

Lesson 13 Public Stakes: Murphy’s Law is in effect here. What can go wrong? As a writer, think of every possible disaster and use as many as possible against the protagonist.

Lesson 14 – Complications: Arising from conflict, make your hero/heroine face major problems on their way to achieving their goal. Obstacles force them to overcome.

Lesson 15 – Plot Layers: To differentiate between a subplot and a plot layer think of it this way: “Layers are plot lines given to the same character.”

Lesson 16 – Weaving a Story: Connecting the various plot lines (not subplots, plot lines) that seem different and unique, bringing them together to enrich the reader’s experience.

Lesson 17 – Subplots: Subplots are what happens to the secondary characters, as they are woven into the main story. There can be several but they should not overtake the main plot, although they might try.

Lesson 18 – Turning Points: The point at which things change. It can be new information, a shift in events, a reversal, a loss, a twist, a challenge, or a disaster. Make your turning points more powerful.

Lesson 19 – the Inner Journey: the hero’s inner turning point, self-perception shows him where he is now. They come to a realization about themselves, this allows them to change and grow.

Maas - PlotLesson 20 – High Moments: You catch your breath and wonder what just happened. Story high moments are breathtaking, forgiveness, death, direction turns, self-sacrifice, and moral choices.

Lesson 21 – Bridging Conflict: Not what you think. It’s setting up the main action of the story by creating anticipation and making the reader want to find out what is going to happen.

Lesson 22 – Low Tension Part I – The Problem with Tea: Keep tension in your scenes, even the ones that are seemingly benign type parlor, kitchen, or living room settings with tea and coffee.

Lesson 23 – Low Tension Part II – Burdensome Backstory: Dole it out in pieces throughout the novel, don’t info dump in the first couple of chapters. Not knowing everything adds tension.

Lesson 24 – Low Tension Part III – Tension on Every Page: Disagreements, taut and simmering dialogue, friction in feelings. All these can assist in making every scene sizzle with tension.

We’ve now completed two-thirds of the notebook. Many passages from literary works are used to illustrate the main points each lesson has. Exercises at the end help you make your novel on of breakout quality.

Tomorrow: Part Three – General Story Techniques

How’s your story coming along, if you’re writing one? If not, why not? Leave a comment and let me know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Mickey Mindset

Celebrating the Art of Disney Storytelling

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.

For a purpose

The blog site of Rick Wade


Where it is a good thing to be an outcast.


We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; let your light shine through your cracked pot. Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in and comes out.

loon watchman

stark raving sane.

Kelly F Barr

"A story without love is empty." -- Kelly F. Barr

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Discovering the Gift

Vonj Production

Bringing you love through spirit!

A christian dad blog

Just a dad following God's path


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.


easy reading is damn hard writing

Funny Dog Moments

Funny Tales of Cinnamon the Cute Guard Dog

Life Through the Big Screen

A podcast where I invite guests from all walks of life to discuss their favorite movies, and we use that film as a starting point to talk about deeper issues such as faith, politics, and social issues.

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

%d bloggers like this: