Bettering Bria’s Book

21 Jan

You’re probably going to hear a lot about this in the near (and probably not so near) future since I’m working thru Donald Maass’s book Writing The Breakout Novel & Workbook with some friends.

The book is done. The book is polished. But is it the best darn book it can be? Probably not, but that might be the answer for just about any book written by just about anyone. The problem is making it the best darn book I can on my own. I feel like I’ve done that. I feel like I’ve really created something I love here. Now I want to blow my own socks off. I want to surprise myself and then maybe surprise an agent or two. I want their to only be feedback, suggestions and corrections I couldn’t have seen myself. I want to be able to master this thing. 

Yeah, I hear ya. Good luck, Bria. 

But, I do think there are more things, Big Things, I can learn that will push me toward that socks-blowing level. In comes WBN by Maass. I was one of those people who (from here snippets and reviews) assumed Mr. Maass was constantly pushing us toward the exhausting novels that you put down and don’t even know if you liked but they dragged you through them with build build build build until you couldn’t take any more. I’m already seeing that this (fairly common) misconception is, well, a misconception.  Pulling some gems from what I’ve read that I’m doing some heavy thinking around are somethings that sound obvious, but he really pushes it further than just the obvious when reading the book and using the workbook: 

Novels are written one word at a time, and the choices made along the way can as easily produce a mildly engaging midlist novel as a highly memorable breakout. I believe that the difference lies in the author’s commitment to great storytelling.


There it is, the first thing I underlined in the book. I know, it feels obvious, but is it really? Not to just say something is good enough or even good? But to say to every single word: You are the very best?

It isn’t a how to do something, but the DIFFERENCE between midlisting and breaking out. As an unpublished writer will this book shoot me to breakout? Who knows, but one thing one of my cohorts in this adventure and I discussed was that the workbook could very easily be used as something you make into a little checklist and half-ass your way thru and then say: Well, Maass’s book didn’t work for me, so whatever. How many people claim things don’t work after putting in the minimal effort? 

So, we’re going to dive deep, dig deep, and hopefully write something at least socks-breezing if not socks-blowing.

3 Responses to “Bettering Bria’s Book”

  1. Kaige January 21, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    I also think you have to be ready to hear and think about what various craft books have to offer. Some people don’t like to open themselves up that way. *shrug* I like learning new things as I reread ones that “spoke to me” in the past. Good luck cranking up the volume!

  2. briaq January 21, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    True – I find that I’m a craft book skimmer, but they all sit on myself with at least a couple stickies hanging out the edges looking at me to review sections.

    I certainly can point to books, workshops and people who have pushed my writing further down the path to good-better-best….I’ve said before, I don’t understand the “I’ll just learn by doing and ignore everything else” mentality…do do do, read read read.

  3. Cinde January 22, 2009 at 11:26 am #

    Great post, Bria, some major food for thought there for me, My problem is getting bogged down in craft books so much I’m too paralyzed to just write. Trying to break out of that. I have that workbook too, never finished it though, I think it scared me!

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