Monday, October 8, 2007

The Breakout Premise - Part 1

Before I begin, I want to let you know how much encouragement your comments bring. Thank you.


I'm told that if you want to bump your craft up a level, there's no better book then Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass.

So let's talk.

(Just so you know . . . I don't yet have the workbook, so we'll be reading through the book instead.)

The Breakout Premise - Part 1

What are your three all-time favorite novels? Maass says they're the dog-eared ones you've read over and over and can quote lines from. Make a list or pull them directly off your shelves. Mind you, only three. No more.


Between you and me, I thought I'd failed before I'd even begun. I don't have any novels I've read over and over. No time? Fear of disappointment? Pick one.

And lines? I can't remember the ending of the movie I saw last night, let alone a line from a novel I read years ago and didn't re-read. Sheesh. But I wanted to try and play. I wandered by my bookshelves, and if a book made me smile, I pulled it out. And had to make myself stop at three. Phew!

The next surprise was that although suspense is the genre that has given me the most satisfaction over the years (and wonderful sleepless nights), not one of the three books I chose is suspense. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe, and Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

Think about what your three choices have in common. It's more than genre or style. Maass says to "consider more the experience it gives you as a reader."

Complete transport into another world is probably one commonality each of your favorites share. A different time, a different place. You open the pages and you're no longer in this reality. A complete fictional world that whisks you in and holds you captive. Make sense?

What are your first three choices?

It's all better with friends.


  1. I have that book and I have to say it's difficult for me to pick any book as a favorite! I hate it when you're in a writers group and they ask what your favorite book is or who your favorite author is.
    Part of it is my personality, I like variety. I don't have a favorite restaurant, movie, or vacation destination so it just makes it hard when I'm forced to answer questions like that. If I had to pick three books off the top of my head it would be; I know why the caged bird sings, The secret life of Bees and this is going way way back, The Thorn Birds.

  2. I loved all those books! I have Maya Angelou verses all over the house (and don't you love her cards?), and I went to school with a Susan Monk and have been trying to find out if she could possibly be Sue Monk Kidd, and who doesn't love The Thorn Birds? Each one of the books on your "short list" (maybe that's a better term) whisked me away to another place. Somewhere I didn't have to do laundry, ya know?

    It's either my Shoutlife page, or my Crimespace page that asked about favorite books. I went on and on and on. Very embarrassing.

  3. Oh, boy! I gotta go look at my shelves. I know one of them is going to be Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. I have read that book several times, and it was influential in making me want to write myself. I loved the suspense and the characters.

  4. Frank Peretti has got to be one of my all time favorites. And yet, one more wonderful author who I have not read over and over--the same book, that is. I also love Bill Myers, Randy Alcorn, Robert Whitlow and Robert Liparulo . . . just to give the guys some print. LOL.