If you're writing a novel, and if you're committed to making it the best darn story you possibly can: these are the three books you need.
The Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook is simply the best resource I could possibly give you. Period.
... Although, if I'm handing out recommendations, then in the very same breath, I've got to say: Get the companion book (Writing the Breakout Novel) and also The Fire in Fiction (which also has exercises that are SUPER helpful: it builds on the other two books, without unnecessary overlapping).
If you're like me, it's easy to read a brilliant book about the craft of writing. If you're like me, it's easy to nod and underline and feel very wise.
And then it's hard as heck to apply what you've learned. Yes? Turning theory into sentences and paragraphs... I tend to feel really inspired--and then I give up.
Well, the concepts in Writing the Breakout Novel will convince you that this is exactly what your novel needs. I mean: it's written by Donald Maass, a massively experienced literary agent. And he's pulling apart the elements that make the great novels work.
He knows what he's talking about. And as you read it, you'll find yourself nodding, yes, yes, yes, this is exactly what I love to read too, this is what I love in a story, this is what my novel needs--
And then the Workbook comes along, spelling out everything in very practical terms, and then stepping you through the application of each one. He tells you how to make your characters unforgettable, how to make your plot layered and complex, how to give your writing that resonance that readers love.
He breaks it down to the smallest components, and then leaves space for you to jot down how to make it work in your story. (Your brain will explode. Mine still does, every time I go through it.)
The Fire in Fiction follows it up, with more transformative exercises, and more elements of the most powerful fiction: how to shape scenes so that each one moves the story forward in a powerful way; how to make the extraordinary plot twists feel realistic; how to get tension into every page of your book so that no one can put it down.
But for all that, none of this feels gimmicky to me. They aren't silly tricks. He's teaching the elements of unforgettable fiction. The craft of it.
Nothing has transformed my stories like these books.
No other resource has helped me feel this confident about what I'm writing.
If you were interested by the idea of a master class but you weren't sure where to go with it, then let me humbly suggest: This workbook plus you plus your novel. For a year.
I'm dead serious.
It's far cheaper than taking a class. And I'm pretty sure it will have an equal--or greater!!--effect on your work.
You won't be sorry.