Writing the Breakout Novel

By Wednesday, February 5, 2014 1 , , , , Permalink 0

Writing the Breakout Novel book cover

Something occurred to me while reading Writing the Breakout Novel: Maybe I should stop reading books about writing, because they seem to fill me with doubt and fear. Not that I haven’t read good books on writing (there are many). This one just didn’t do it for me. That being said, there was a decent amount of good advice in this book. Here some tips that stood out:

  • “In a novel, struggle is far more compelling than satisfaction. Conflict is the first principle of plot construction, and it is also the underlying secret of great characters.”
  • “…character transformation can make the end of a story profoundly memorable; the trick is getting there. Flawed characters need hints of the qualities that make straight-ahead heroes feel larger-than-life. Readers need reasons to hope. To write the breakout novel, it is necessary to provide readers those reasons not just at the end but all the way through.”
  • “Secondary characters can serve to amplify what is going on, of course, but they are more useful still when they disagree or produce friction with your main character or, even better, add unforseen complications to the main problem.”
  • “Whatever drives the main character in your character-driven story, make sure it is an inner conflict as powerful as any outer conflict could hope to be: urgent, unavoidable and full of an emotional appeal that anyone can feel.”
  • “The so-called ‘aftermath’ scene, in which the hero digests what has just happened to him and settles on his next step, is an outdated technique. Low tension breeds in the space between confrontations and other high moments.”
  • “‘Setup’ is , by definition, not story. It always drags. Always. Leave it out. Find another way.”
  • “The scene immediate after a high point is often a good place to introduce a subplot scene. The contrast gives the reader a change of pace and adds texture to the overall story.”
  • “Enhancing motivation is what you will need to do if you want to give your protagonist the inner fire that, developed step-by-step through your manuscript, results in a powerful theme.”
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