My favorite craft book of all time is Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel. This book has a workbook companion of the same name. There are exercises throughout, including “Adding Heroic Qualities,” “Opening Extra Character Dimensions,” “Adjusting the Volume” and more. A gem-tip in chapter 5 (Heightening Larger-Than-Life Qualities) tells us:
As you comb through your manuscript looking for ways to heighten anything your protagonist says, does, or thinks, look for ways to take things up in temperature, but also down. Play against the prevailing mood of a scene.
There are valuable reminders in the workbook, like this on p. 59:
Passages of exposition can be among the most gripping in your novel. Indeed they better be, since nothing is “happening.” When nothing overtly is going on, make sure that a great deal is at work beneath the surface. Otherwise your novel will have dead spots that your readers will skip.
I cannot say enough about how this book kickstarted my drive after it stalled out last spring. A weapon of mass instruction? I guess I’d say it was for me. Hopefully Mr. Maass won’t mind me sharing one more blip from his book with you. This is such a beautiful piece of advice, I can’t resist: [Read more…]