Welcome to Writers’ Uni-Verse-City (or WUVC for short because every university has an acronym), a place where writers/bloggers can meet to discuss the craft of writing in the Internet age. WUVC will involve independent research, setting a curriculum and hopefully finding other participants (like you – readers/bloggers/writers) to: chip in, give tips, suggest books and other materials for study, teach me the ways of the warrior writer, and offer to guest post here at Uni-Verse-City (contact: [email protected]).

The Breakout Novel by Donald Maas was a writing craft book that I was really looking forward to read and it had tips from cover to cover. The fact is that I took so many notes while reading that I plan to read it again straight through without any note taking.

In this book, Maas looks at the ingredients that make up a Breakout Novel:

  • The premise
  • The stakes
  • Setting – Time & Place
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Viewpoints, subplots, pace, voice, endings
  • Theme

At the end of each chapter Maas includes a checklist of requirements that make a novel breakout from the rest. The checklists provided a short summary of the key points he mentioned throughout the chapter and serve as a good reminder or reference when reviewing your work.

I always like reading educational texts that include examples, whether they are examples of what to do and what not to do, they always seem to click the information in place. Maas uses some well-known novels as examples of breakout-level writing and why it was/is such a successful story.

As it always happens when I read a craft book, I get an explosion of ideas for my own writing and even reviewing the notes I took on The Breakout Novel lead me to write out another page or two of brainstorming. I know this book will be one I continually reference and maybe even re-read at least once a year.

Maas provides the recipe for a Breakout Novel, now its up to the writer to make it.

Have you read The Breakout Novel? Which tips resonated with you most?

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Breakout Novel by Donald Maas”

  1. Love Donald Maas! I’ve begun reading this book and he’s amazing. I’ve also watched video interviews of him and they are just as helpful. Definitely a great craft book!

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