The Breakout Novel Handbook

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
A.M.Kuska
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The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 4th, 2010, 4:51 pm

Does anyone else have this book? I purchased it after reading the book it is a companion guide too, and so far I love the idea of it. I just wondered if anyone else has it, and how it has changed/not changed your writing?

wildheart
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by wildheart » April 4th, 2010, 8:04 pm

I have Writing The Breakout Novel and it certainly brought to my attention things I was not doing correctly and things I was doing right. But there are other books that have helped me out even more. And honestly? I am taking a writing course right now that is changing my writing so completely I think it might even help me get published! The course is How To Think Sideways by Holly Lisle if you are interested. If you find your book is not what you were looking for...she has many e-books and two huge courses that can help you! It's certainly helped me!
http://wildheart90.blogspot.com/
A mother. A writer. A dreamer.

A.M.Kuska
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 4th, 2010, 8:10 pm

Holly Lisle is an aquaintence of mine. ^^ I doubt she remembers me, but she helped me get started in writing, and I have absolute confidence any workshop or book of hers is worth the money. I own four of her books, and want a fifth one, Sympathy for the Devil. You can read it online for free if you're interested, just google for it. It's one of the best books ever. ^^ Also Forward Motion, which was started by Holly Lisle but no longer run by her, is a great writing community. I found the critiques from those people a bit harsh, but the free e-zine, Vision: Resource for Writers is a gold mine.

wildheart
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by wildheart » April 4th, 2010, 8:32 pm

I found her by accident actually. I was trying to find some good info on what I needed in place before starting a novel and her site popped up. I spent days on there looking at all her free information, then read any books of hers online that were free. Her writing is amazing and her workshops are even better.

Sympathy for the Devil is one of my favorites!

I tried Forward Motion a while back, but it wasn't really my thing. Mostly I am just sticking to doing her course, then moving onto the forums for discussion. At some point I will take her new course How To Revise Your Novel. She has already helped me so much.

Really, the fact that you knew who she was made me laugh, but honestly it isn't a surprise. She is one of those writers that likes to pay it forward. That's really cool that you know her though!
http://wildheart90.blogspot.com/
A mother. A writer. A dreamer.

A.M.Kuska
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 4th, 2010, 9:59 pm

Another place you might want to check is www.critiquecircle.com It's fantastic if you don't mind putting out as much as you get.

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Quill
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by Quill » April 4th, 2010, 10:42 pm

I read "Writing the Breakout Novel" three months ago, and put it near the top of my list of books about the craft. And just last week I was looking at the Handbook, wondering if it, too, might help me. So I am also curious to know if anyone here has tried working with it.

Margo
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by Margo » April 5th, 2010, 12:27 pm

Everything I have ever read by Donald Maass has changed the way I thought about writing, so much so that I have spent the cash to do the Intensive and the High Tension workshop he teaches. In my opinion, his best two are the Workbook and his latest, Fire In Fiction. Worth every penny, three times over. I also think most unpublished authors should read The Career Novelist. Some of the info is dated, as it was written in the 90's, I believe, but it still gives an excellent view of how the publishing industry works and will strip writers of quite a few illusions (like the myth that we have any input as to the book's cover or that we're all going to get funding for book tours). The Career Novelist is available as a free download on the website for the Donald Maass Literary Agency, fyi.

My next favorite would be anything by James Scott Bell.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

A.M.Kuska
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 5th, 2010, 3:54 pm

I like it best out of all of his books, but I don't recommend starting with it until you have a complete novel as polished as you can make it. The handbook assumes you are already a decent writer who wants to take the next step. It skips over the basic mistakes that every new writer makes, and goes to a whole new level. One of the experiments he suggests is taking chapter one, and moving it to the middle of the book. Sounds like it won't work, but often enough with some editing it works better.

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Quill
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by Quill » April 5th, 2010, 9:53 pm

A.M.Kuska wrote:I like it best out of all of his books, but I don't recommend starting with it until you have a complete novel as polished as you can make it.
I'm surprised to hear you say this, because "Writing the Breakout Novel" seemed to me appropriate reading at the ground level of writing (both in experience and on a particular project) or anywhere during writing or revision, for strengthening the work. It is highly inspirational as well as nutty-bolty, which is why I though writers of any level would benefit.

But I'll take your word that the Workbook is a different kettle of fish.

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Quill
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by Quill » April 5th, 2010, 9:56 pm

Margo wrote:Everything I have ever read by Donald Maass has changed the way I thought about writing, so much so that I have spent the cash to do the Intensive and the High Tension workshop he teaches.
That is awesome.
In my opinion, his best two are the Workbook and his latest, Fire In Fiction. Worth every penny, three times over. I also think most unpublished authors should read The Career Novelist. Some of the info is dated, as it was written in the 90's, I believe, but it still gives an excellent view of how the publishing industry works and will strip writers of quite a few illusions (like the myth that we have any input as to the book's cover or that we're all going to get funding for book tours). The Career Novelist is available as a free download on the website for the Donald Maass Literary Agency, fyi.

My next favorite would be anything by James Scott Bell.
Thanks for the recommendations!

A.M.Kuska
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 5th, 2010, 10:20 pm

Quill wrote: I'm surprised to hear you say this, because "Writing the Breakout Novel" seemed to me appropriate reading at the ground level of writing (both in experience and on a particular project) or anywhere during writing or revision, for strengthening the work. It is highly inspirational as well as nutty-bolty, which is why I though writers of any level would benefit.

But I'll take your word that the Workbook is a different kettle of fish.
Writing the Breakout Novel is definitely appropriate for ground level writing, and beginner writers can gain significant value from the handbook. However, many of the exercises require moving chapters around etc. so it is helpful to work with a finished product. This is of course just my personal experience.

Margo
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by Margo » April 6th, 2010, 10:49 am

A.M.Kuska wrote:Writing the Breakout Novel is definitely appropriate for ground level writing, and beginner writers can gain significant value from the handbook. However, many of the exercises require moving chapters around etc. so it is helpful to work with a finished product. This is of course just my personal experience.
Yeah, you definitely have a point about needing the full manuscript to do some of the exercises, but I also found so much that I thought was appropriate for the planning and plotting stages prior to writing. (Yes, I'm one of those people who outline outline outline!) So what I did was separate the different questions and exercises in the Workbook into development and revision sections. And (surprise surprise) I made a template. Yes, I am pathologically attached to templates. :)
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

A.M.Kuska
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 6th, 2010, 10:29 pm

What an intriguing idea! Would you mind sharing how you divided it up?

Margo
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by Margo » April 7th, 2010, 11:04 am

A.M.Kuska wrote:What an intriguing idea! Would you mind sharing how you divided it up?
Sure, no problem. I apologize if any of these are not in the book. I did this a few months ago and can't remember if I incorporated questions from the handouts that he gave at the Intensive, but there are probably a handful of them in there. A few might also come from Fire in Fiction. A few topics appear in both sections.

For development, I included these topics: adding heroic qualities, opening extra character dimensions, creating inner conflict, larger-than-life qualities, defining personal stakes, capturing the irrevocable commitment, secondary character development, developing the antagonist, the antagonist's outline, combining roles, raising public stakes, making complications active, building plot layers, weaving plot layers together, adding subplots, inner turning points, creating high moments, improving character delination, other character problems, making the antagonist's case, creating symbols, creating the unreliable narrator, deep character development, making dark protagonists sympathetic, and building on irony.

For revision I included these topics: adjust the volume, reversing motives, capturing the irrevocable commitment, deepening exposition, combining roles, heightening turning points, inner turning points, developing bridging conflict, brewing tension, delaying backstory, adding tension to every page, enhancing first and last lines, freezing moments in time, measuring inner change, the psychology of place, deconstructing and reconstructing scenes, and writing sex.

This does, of course, reflect the order of steps I go through when writing, so you might need to shift these around to make them useful to you. It is also very much geared toward an outliner or at least someone who does the heavy lifting on the front end, before the actual writing begins.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

A.M.Kuska
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Re: The Breakout Novel Handbook

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 8th, 2010, 10:08 am

Ooooh, I'm definitely going to use this for my current and future projects. Thanks so much for sharing!

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