Note to Self: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Book Cover Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass“Inside advice for taking your fiction to the next level.”

Writing the Breakout Novel was written much like a textbook and that format meshed well with my learning style. Most everything covered was general knowledge – for writers who have read other books on their craft – but Maass delivered the information from the “inside” perspective of an agent whose career spans 30 years.

Each chapter focused on a major element of fiction and began with an examination of Maass’s theory on what is necessary to exploit that element to achieve “breakout” success. Oftentimes, an excerpt of published fiction was used to illustrate that “breakout” technique. Lastly, each chapter ended with the “Breakout Checklist,” a must-have bulleted list which summarized the chapter’s key points.

The “Breakout Checklist” was a useful feature, especially for repeat readers. In addition, the index was well-organized and specific which was helpful when I wanted to look up one of the many novels Maass referenced throughout the book.

Overall, I found the excerpts and “insider” viewpoint made the advice practical and relevant for beginners and midlisters. Nothing profound here; but, sage insight nonetheless.

P.S. I purchased the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook at the same time as its predecessor and I plan to complete the workbook before I start revisions on my novel.


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Donald Maass Literary Agency | “Writing The Breakout Novel” – an article by Donald Maass

2 Replies to “Note to Self: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

  1. I’m currently reading Maass’s “The Fire in Fiction” and he uses a similar structure in that book as well. I highly recommend it and I guess I need to check out “The Breakout Novel” as well!

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