Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass - Review and Giveaway

The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers by Donald Maass
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 978-1582979908
Published March 14, 2011
Spiral-bound Hardcover, 352 pages

There are many resources for writers on the market. Finding the book that is right for you, that inspires you and gets you moving to write that breakout novel and to improve your craft is not always easy to find. When I first read the introduction to this book, I felt that the author--experienced literary agent Donald Maass--was talking to me. I mean really talking to me. As an author I understood immediately what he was referring to, and I felt he understood exactly what I, as an author, needed to hear.

Out came my yellow highlighter, as I delved into page after page of things I needed to work on, things I already knew yet didn't know enough of. Everything I have read about novel writing, even taught in my workshops, Maass takes to a new level. I felt like I had a mentor, giving me meaty concepts to think about and apply as I typed away at my novel. Every time I picked up this book where I left off, it was like meeting with Maass at a café where I envisioned him sitting in front of me with piercing, intelligent eyes, pushing me to write not just any old story, but the breakout novel.

Sure, Maass deals with all the elements of a good novel—characterization, plot, setting, pace, ending, etc., but in ways that had me analyzing my manuscript constantly. The wheels in my head were turning so fast, I felt almost overwhelmed as I was drinking it all in. This is not a book to be read once. No way. Every page is good. And there are 343 pages of it. To illustrate the point being discussed, plenty of examples were drawn from books of various genres, some of which I had read and a lot of which I hadn't. And so I took notes.

This book was reflective for me as well as instructive. Today, with print-on-demand, almost anyone can publish a book. But as an author, you just don't want to publish a book for the sake of publishing a book. It's not enough. You want to publish a novel readers will care enough about, not only to read, but to talk about afterwards, a novel about something close to your heart, a novel you will slave after because it matters, a novel that is the breakout novel.

As a book reviewer, I read about 100 books a year, and I quickly understood what Maass was talking about as in my mind I could mentally pick out the books that really stood out to me as breakout novels, no matter what their genre or topic. That's the kind of book I want to write. If you're looking to write a great novel, a breakout novel, then this book is the one you need to read. Now. Highly recommended for any and all writers, experienced or not.

About the Author:

Donald Maass, author of The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers, heads the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City, which represents more than 150 novelists and sells more than 100 novels every year to publishers in America and overseas. He is a past president of the Association of Authors Representatives, Inc., and is the author of several books.

For more information, please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Check out this Writer's Digest Q&A With Donald Maass

And now for the giveaway!

Thanks to the publicist at FSB Associates, I have one copy to give away. Entering is easy. Visit my writer's blog NouveauWriter for a chance to win!

Disclosure: Thanks to Ruby Mansuri from FSB Associates for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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