Friday, April 18, 2008

Writing the Breakout Novel

Where have I been these days? Obviously not writing many blog posts. Not even promoting books of other authors through CFBA. They've been featuring a lot of great books the past couple weeks, but I reached a point of overload in all aspects of my life, and I had to take a step back and take a deep breath. I'll get my groove back soon in that department!

I'd started on my new WIP a couple weeks ago with a first draft. Then, while walking, I started listening to the MP3's from last September's ACFW conference. For the first time I decided to buy the entire set, and I have been learning so much from each of the continuing classes I've listened to so far.

This past week I started listening to Tricia Goyer's class on historical writing. At first I wasn't going to listen since I don't write historical, but am I glad I did. There's something there for all writers. Tricia talked about how she uses Donald Maas's "Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook" before she writes one word of a new book on her computer. When I heard that a light bulb went on in my head. I have that workbook! It's the same one Nancy Rue and Angie Hunt talked about at the writing clinic I sat in last year in Colorado. They, too, use this book. Could all these well-published authors be wrong? I think not.

I stopped writing the draft which is about a third done, give or take, and dug out the book. It's divided into sections that can be used before you write, during your first draft writing, or after the first draft is complete. Right now, I'm in the characterization phase, and next comes plot development, and then story techniques. Already I have new ideas to deepen the makeup of my characters, increase their inner conflicts, and punch up the story another notch or two.

Tricia is a prolific writer of stories set in World War II, an era I'm being more and more drawn to for reading, and she's got me thirsty to read some of her books. Pictured here is one of her books. The premise sounds intriguing. Here's a blurb from one of the on-line stores I frequent for books:

A love story between a beautiful member of the Austrian resistance and the American soldier who loves her is told against the true story of the orchestra started by prisoners in Hitler`s Mauthausen death camp, who played the American national anthem.

Now that I know how Tricia researches and develops her storyline, I'm very anxious to read one of her finished products!

If you're a novelist and haven't yet looked at Maas's workbook, I encourage you to do it now. His book, "Writing the Breakout Novel," has been referred to for years as one of THE books every novelist should have on their bookshelf as a keeper. The workbook is where you but hands to the wheel and begin to drive.

Over the next several weeks I plan to share tidbits of what I've been learning through this process.

I'm going to spend the entire day going through more exercises. It's not something you can speed through, yet I'm so anxious to start writing the story again, I can't stand it.

That can only be a good sign!


Jo said...

I've breathed a deep sigh of relief and comfort after spending a while in your blog. For the past couple weeks I've been battling writers block and just a lack of inspiration. You've given me more hope and some very clever resources and I just had to let you know... thanks you!!! ;) I'll definitely be back!
- Jo

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

I definitely need to pick up this book! I keep hearing about it.
let us know what you learn from it!