If you are struggling with your manuscript and you need someone to ask you questions that challenge and stretch your novel to the max, then you should read “The Breakout Novelist: How To Craft Novels That Stand Out And Sell” by Donald Maass.
Here is my experience:
A lot was missing in my novel when I wrote the first draft. I expected the first, second, and third drafts to be rough, but I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know how to shape my story. I needed help, but I didn’t want to hand off a first draft for review. I felt like a protective mama bear guarding her little newborn cub.
I also felt helpless and that I failed as a writer. I was ready to trash my novel.
Another writer suggested that I read “The Breakout Novelist” (TBN). He said, “Maass’ book is THE writing book to read if you are writing a novel.”
I took his advice and read TBN. It really is the best tool I have used to develop my story.
The problem with my first draft was that it was shallow. TBN asked probing questions about premise, stakes, characters, plot, theme, and so much more. I’ve been able to add depth to every aspect of my novel. My second draft has substance and a clear understanding as to what my novel is about. Every character has substance and aren’t just “filler” characters.
TBN has taken me a very long time to read, but purely by choice. I applied every point Maass made to my story. I didn’t ignore a single suggestion because I could clearly see how each one stretched and shaped my novel into something better. Maass also provided exercises to help the writer apply these concepts to their manuscript.
I’m glad I wrote the first draft blindly. There was something very holistic in writing from my heart with no other voice chiming in, but then I was stuck. My mental wall was growing taller every day and I’m so grateful that I found TBN when I did. It truly saved my sanity and my novel. I had to share this helpful tool in case someone else needed guidance.