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The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers    by Donald Maass Amazon.com order for
Breakout Novelist
by Donald Maass
Order:  USA  Can
Writers Digest, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

You can't go wrong taking writing advice from veteran literary agent, Donald Maass. After spending thirty years working with novelists, he knows what is needed to take an ordinary story and turn it into a breakout novel. Like all good instruction books, this one is spiral-bound, making it easy to read, easy to make notes, and easy to highlight. The organization is also excellent, so you can find those notes and highlights later.

Begin with the introduction. It's meant to be read. First of all, it tells the reader how to use the book and gives a mini-view of what the book has to offer. The first section of the book takes the basics, which Maass already expects you to know, and shows how these elements premise, stakes, time and place, plot, and theme can be tweaked by using breakout novel characteristics.

Part Two, Achieving Breakout Greatness, goes a step further, giving advice about details and delivery. It includes enhancing voice, scenes, and tension, just to name a few elements. Throughout the book, Maass gives examples from both classics and bestselling novels.

Part Three, Building a Breakout Career, gives advice on pitch, agents, contracts, publishing and other business must-dos. Fiction careers aren't just about writing the book. He also touches on the future of the rapidly changing publishing industry.

Maass's conversational style makes this book an easy read, which is not always true in books on craft. After each section, he offers Practical Tools intended to give the reader the opportunity to play with his advice. I recommend you find a place on your desk or bookshelf for The Breakout Novelist.

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