Book Review: The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers, by Donald Maass

The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers is the fifth Donald Maass book I've reviewed. I wasn't sure I really needed another Maass book. But when I got hold of a copy at a recent writer's conference, I realized it was exactly what I needed.

I already owned Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, The Fire in Fiction, and The Career Novelist. The trouble is, I don't always grab the whole stack from my shelf and put them to use. The Breakout Novelist contains the best information from all four books, plus updated content, in a compact, spiral-bound hardcover.

A nice-sized volume to sit next to my computer.

If you have't heard of Donald Maass, he's the founder of his own top-notch literary agency, and a former president of the AAR (Association of Author Representatives, Inc.).

The exercises he includes ask writers to stretch themselves beyond the boundaries of safe, predictable writing. Working through this book will improve your novel by leaps and bounds.

Here's the table of contents to give you an idea of what you're getting:

Table of Contents

PART 1: Mastering Breakout Basics
  1. Premise
  2. Stakes
  3. Time and Place
  4. Characters
  5. Plot
  6. Sub-Plots + Pace + Endings
  7. Advanced Plot Structures
  8. Theme
  9. Practical Tools

PART 2: Achieving Breakout Greatness
  1. Protagonists vs. Heroes
  2. Characters Who Matter
  3. Scenes That Can't Be Cut
  4. The World of the Novel
  5. A Singular Voice
  6. Making It Real
  7. Hyper-Reality
  8. Tension All the Time
  9. The Fire in Fiction
  10. Practical Tools

PART 3: Building a Breakout Career
  1. Status Seekers & Storytellers
  2. Publishing Myth vs. Reality
  3. Pitching
  4. Agents
  5. Career Patterns That Work
  6. Breaking Out
  7. Contracts
  8. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
  9. The Future of Publishing
  10. Passages

The book comes with an exclusive link so writers can download and print the exercises for their notebooks (without having to write in the book).

Check out an excerpt from the book from Chapter 24: Career Patterns That Work, and an exclusive interview with Maass as he shares his secrets of success

What are your favorite writing books?


  1. You've convinced me. It's time to check out Donald Maass' books.I'll start with this latest one :-) Thanks for the heads-up...

  2. You may not need the others if you get this one--the benefits of discovering him late, I guess! I really think you'll get a lot out of it.




Related Posts with Thumbnails