Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Writing the Breakout Novel -- lesson 1

What I’m reading: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

What I’m working on….read on.

Ok – so I’m not making good on my promise from yesterday to post some great YA. I will, but I got distracted tonight.

I had some alone time – finally – so immediately I thought I should write, but I really need a solid plan, not just the haphazard first draft to guide me. So, I thought I would plot. I looked at my Discovering Story Magic notes and my Writer’s Journey notes, but quickly got stuck.

What to do? What to do?

I finally picked up a book I’ve known for awhile now that I should read, but one which I’ve been avoiding – Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass.

I’ve decided to read the book and go through every exercise in the accompanying Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I’ll use each exercise as he recommends – going through my current manuscript with it.

I’ve already had one aha moment, and all I’ve read is the intro, part of the first chapter, and exercise one in the workbook.

The first exercise asked who one of my heroes was and what his/her greatest heroic quality was. As usual with me, it took a minute of going through those questions and the rest of them and applying them to my story to hone in on what I think is truly heroic with my heroes.

Now, just so you know, I have lots of heroes, but the first ones that came to mind tonight are Dr. Paul Farmer and Batman.

(I’m pausing while you laugh. Are you done yet?)

If you don’t know who Dr. Paul Farmer is, I suggest you read Mountains Beyond Mountains. And, well, Batman you know.

What’s interesting is that once I narrowed it down, I identified the same quality in both of them as their greatest heroic quality.

Are you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of that quality?

Wait no longer.

They both truly believe they can make a difference and they pursue whatever means necessary to do so.

I’m supposed to figure out a way to demonstrate that quality – even in a small way – in my heroine in the first scene. And I actually think I have that figured out. I really only show it in a small way, but it is distinct.

Woohoo! This already helping so much! I can’t wait for lesson #2!

If you want to learn along with me, go get a copy of Donald Maass’s book and workbook and join in. Maybe we’ll all write a breakout novel.



Dara Edmondson said...

I love it when I find one of those books or classes that really enlightens me. My fave - Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict. Working on a Plotting Wheel class now and it'll help if I complete the lessons.

Cinderwriter said...

Macy, I bought these too, and hope to get started now that I am done with my sailing class!