Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

I hope you all had a great week last week! We had a very nice (and delicious!) Thanksgiving with two of my sisters and their families. Now the last of the pumpkin pie is gone and it's time to get back to work. :)

As I mentioned before, I sent my latest manuscript out to critique partners recently. While I'm waiting to hear back, of course I'm starting the next book. A couple of weeks ago, when I started this project, I had just a glimmer of an idea. It's a mystery, so at that point I knew the murderer's identity and motive, and that was about it. Then I went to one of my all-time favorite books, the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. I spent the past couple of weeks working through the exercises and ended today with writing the skeleton of my outline using the step-by-step guide in Appendix A.

I'm a compulsive planner, and I still have plenty of prep work left to do before I start the actual writing. But by working through this book, my glimmer of an idea has grown into a full-fledged story with layers and subplots and complications and steadily rising stakes. I've discovered new suspects and symbols and even my theme. I'm sure much of this will change as I continue to play with the storyline, but it's a great start with plenty of substance and details and original ideas I'm sure I wouldn't have thought of had the exercises in the book not forced me to dig deeper than my initial, easy surface ideas.

So, are you starting a new project soon? Or do you have an old project that needs new life? Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook has two thumbs up from me! Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

31 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Compulsive planner - is that what they call us?
Not sure what I'll write next. Another author had an idea for a story we could write together, so might tackle that.
Then again, I just might be done.

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow!! Good luck with your brand spanking new idea and yay that this book is helping you shape it into an even more tangible story!

Take care
x

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I do have a new project I'll be starting very soon. I haven't read Donald Maass's book and, being a major pantster, I'm not sure if a workbook format would help me.

It's the second book in a series that I have to write. So, actually I was going to read (or re-read) a couple of #2 books before I dig into mine. #2 in Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Gregor the Overlander, Shadow Children, etc. Just to see what they did with the second book.

DEZMOND said...

exciting, Suzie, wishing you lots of luck with the latest manuscript!

Brian said...

Planning is a must and someday I plan to do that. Thanks for the tip on the book and best of luck with your writing!

Rose Munevar said...

My writing partner borrowed my that book! I haven't started it but she had attended a workshop by the author (very pricey- $800s more or less), but she raved about it and the book.
Mystery books amaze me at the way they build a puzzle and put the pieces together! Wishing you success with yours :)

Deniz Bevan said...

I don't think I could ever plan a book that much in advance, but it sounds so exciting and organized the way you describe it! I love mysteries :-)

Jennifer Hoffine said...

I've been told planning is most important for mysteries. I believe it. I've written mini-mysteries (cases) within a book, and I find figuring out the backstory first is most important for me.

Sounds like you having the culprit and motive first was a good start.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

I've heard about this book before. I own the actual book, but not the workbook. I'm not usually a planner, but it sounds so wonderful to have so much of everything figured out before you start the actual writing. Wow, even your theme! I'm glad you're having so much fun (and that you had a great Thanksgiving). Keep enjoying! :D

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm still working on my latest story. Now at the half-way mark. Wish I had that book last week when my pantster self decided to go crazy and ended up in a totally different place than the outline I had scribbled about 6 months ago.

I'm not into disecting every little thing, so the workbook might not be a good fit for me, but Don Maass is a genius so I would probably take a look at it adn see what he has to say.

Jackee said...

We are two peas in a pod when it comes to planning. To me, planning helps you get block less often and move forward with a draft faster because it's more organized. I have the Breakout book, I'll have to look into the workbook. Thanks, Susan!

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I'm trying to pen Caledfwlch (my third book) along with doing an online fantasy book for free on a website for readers.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My next book comes out in February and I'm not sure what I'll write next.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm a planner too!
I haven't checked out the workbook. Sounds good if it helped you create an outline.
Hopefully, I'll be starting a new project by Feb!

Kelly Polark said...

I have that book and when I go back to my mg wip, I am definitely going to utilize it!!

Romance Book Haven said...

All the best with your new idea! I have the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.

I have highlighted a new publisher and you are welcome to come by as they are inviting aspiring writers to ask their submission questions!

Nas

Jemi Fraser said...

I've heard so many things about that book, but I haven't read it yet - have to pick it up! I'm not much of a planner though, so not sure how well I'd cope with it!

I'm finishing up a draft with NaNo, so I'm been having a ball :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh oh oh! I forgot about that outlining stuff at the back of the workbook. I've been planning my new WIP with Donald latest book. It's the best one yet!!!! I'm going to start my outline this weekend. I'll have to check out the workbook again. Thanks for the reminder, Susan.

And good luck with your new project. :D

Dawn Simon said...

Congrats to you! I'm a huge Donald Maass fan. I have a couple of his books (including that one), and they're so helpful. He was a speaker at one of the first conferences I attended. His sessions were great!

I'm so happy for you about your current project. Yay, Susan! Also, positive wishes on the ms that's being critiqued!

Robyn Campbell said...

I hope the critters give you bodacious advice on your MS.

Planner schmanner. :-) I guess you know where I stand on this issue. Only because I free write and usually come up with my ideas that way. I love Writing the Breakout Novel though. So I do get what you're saying, pal. Wishing you great success with the new one! (((hugs)))

Pk Hrezo said...

Hey Susan! You know I owe you a critique so any time you need me just holla.
You were a big help with my last one and I'll have some news regarding that soon. :)
I'm a compulsive planner too and outlining is a big thrill for me. I use the Plot Whisperer's guide to flesh it all out.

Talli Roland said...

I have read it, and I think it's fabulous! And good luck with your brand new novel.

Kittie Howard said...

Compulsive planner? I like that term a lot. Yep, I've got the idea brewing for the next novella.

Happy your holiday was a great one. Love this time of the year!

Marcia said...

I have the book, but not the workbook. I'm going to give it a look.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I love Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook! As for writing, I'm trying to finish up a novel, but I am already playing around with new ideas for a new novel. Best of luck with your outline!

Lydia Kang said...

I skimmed through that book a while ago. I remember some pretty useful points. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I don't have it, but I want it. I'd like more resource books.

I love it when a new idea grabs me, but not right away since I'm a planner as well.

Trisha said...

Sounds like you're in that awesome "inspired" place! A great place to be! I have a new idea that I am setting aside until 2013, 'cause I have other stuff to work on before 2012 is over. But I love my new idea :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Isn't it fun when you get a new idea. I'm really looking forward to starting a new one when i start querying SOPP.

Sherry Ellis said...

Good luck with your new project! I'm a compulsive planner, too!

The Happy Whisk said...

Very interesting to read how you are doing with this. I'm a planner when it comes to grocery shopping. Lists, coupons, price charts and so on.