Test post for traveler gifts SEO

Creating the perfect search engine optimized copy for a travel themed home decor website requires you to first do some key word research.

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Now It’s Personal – upping the ante in your Breakout Novel

Developing a breakout premise, creating a complex character that readers can cheer for, and sending them off to pursue their dream and defend everything they hold dear, will help propel your writing to the next level. Continuing to up the ante, according to Donald Maass, literary agent and author of Writing the Breakout Novel, will keep readers hooked and wanting more. Digging deep into your own beliefs and values, fears and motivation will help make your story matter to you. If you do not truly care about what happens to your characters, feel their pain, and cherish the ideal that they are trying to hold on to, you will fail to convey the power of your story to the reader.

 Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

maass-writing-the-breakout-novel-cover

Upping the ante is covered in Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass.

The best way to do this, according to Donald Maass, is to live in the world. Look for the joy, the sadness, the triumphs, and the injustice. What would you like to tell people? Do you think life is an exciting roller coaster journey, a mystical experience guided by unknown powers, or maybe a three ring circus of the ridiculous, the hilarious, and the simply dumb. Do you have demons, regrets? Your characters and your story can speak your mind.

The character, Simon, I developed in the earlier post, Supercharge Your Novel Premise Here, is an aging rock star wannabe risking everything to get a truck load of equipment to the ZZ Top concert by sundown. At 38, his chances of getting a drivers license seem as unlikely as his chances of stepping on a concert stage. He is stuck in awkward adolescence twenty years after high school. I want Simon to make it, to step out of his shell and start his life. It’s never too late.

Simon reminds me of a kid I remember from junior high. He got some friends together and convinced the school principal to let them hold an air band concert in front of the whole school. There were props, KISS makeup, and special effects. The lights went on, the music blasted, and the band stood there…petrified. That kid was me.

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Time for the boiling oil – raising the stakes in your Novel

You have created your plausible yet brilliantly original premise and given us a flawed yet noble character to cheer for. All the ingredients are in the pot and you are ready to turn up the heat. You have answered the ominous “so what?” question by propelling your hero into a battle they just can’t win. Readers actually care what is going to happen next! And then?

In his writers guide, Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass says that he sees a lot of writers that fail to continue upping the ante. Even published authors in mid-career with several books under their belt languish in the middle pages. Upping the ante does not always mean a bigger monster or a more fiendish murder. Shorten the time left in the countdown. Tie their best friend to the tracks. Lock the door that leads to safety. Is that an earthquake I hear? Stakes can be raised in layers like toppings on a pizza.

Take our wannabe rock star, Simon from yesterday. His big chance to save the day literally crashes in front of him. All he needs to do is drive the leasing company truck full of ZZ Top’s equipment to Rockford by sundown. Will 22 years stuck in the same Drivers Ed class be enough?

Before Simon can even leave the truck rental lot his hippie mom slips in a stash of her “special” brownies for the trip across the state line. His nemesis, the soon-to-retire Drivers Ed teacher spots him behind the wheel and is on his tail. On top of everything there is something strange about ZZ Top’s “night” driver. Is that a coffin he’s sleeping in? Could things get worse? Let’s hope so. It’s time to raise your (wooden)stakes again.

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Throw them into the Abyss -raising the stakes in your Breakout Novel

You have taken your character and exposed their blemishes. They haven’t always been the good friend/daughter/part of the team. They’ve had their problems with the principal/the Sargent/the head cheerleader and it seems like the cards are stacked against them ever making the squad/becoming a wizard/making their bed. But they still believe that Izabel is innocent/Miss Gulch must be stopped/Billy will notice them.

According to Donald Maass, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, once you have helped the reader know your character, pimples and all, and given them something they hold dear, you have created human worth. A character they can cheer for. Now it is time to raise the stakes and make them suffer. Raising the stakes need not mean they are running to save mankind although thriller authors often do just that.

In my plausible but not predictable sample premise from Supercharge your Novel Premise here, aging rock star wannabe Simon just might be the worst Drivers Ed student ever. He and his musically challenged band mates finally get a gig (cheer) at the local moving truck rental company for the big Sunday promotion. There’s an accident on the highway. The ZZ Top truck was on its way to Rockford. The truck is totaled. “I need your biggest truck and a driver”, wheezes the roadie. “How about that guy?” nodding toward Simon setting up the amps. This is Simon’s big break. The future of blues-based boogie rock (thanks Wikipedia!) depends on him. But wait, Simon can’t drive!

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“We’re all going to die!” and other ways to raise the stakes in your novel

In my last post I covered some ideas for creating a breakout premise based on the writers guidebook, Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass. Raising the stakes is the next step in developing your breakout novel. According to the author the simple but wickedly revealing “so what?” test will help you do just that. If the writer (you) looks at the conflict about to be unleashed on the universe and you don’t care so deeply that you can barely hold your fingers back from the keyboard, the reader is not going to be with you either. It’s time to crank up the conflict.

According to Donald Maass, author and literary agent, there are three places you can go to deepen the chasm of doom separating your hero from their destiny and have your readers holding their breath while they make the leap. First is to create some human worth. Making your character a good guy or girl is not necessarily the way. Complex flawed characters ring true and the better we know them, despite their ugly side, the more we care. You can make them callous, crude, ugly, and greedy, but give them a code, that one thing they will not do and then test them sorely to break their code. Push them to the brink and beyond. Torture and tempt them to turn their back on that one remaining ideal that they still hold dear. Then, you will have the world cheering them on. When everyone is pulling for them to make it, then it’s time…to make them fall.

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Supercharge your Novel Premise here.

In his writers guide, Writing the Breakout Novel, author and literary agent Donald Maass leads us through an exercise in brainstorming the breakout premise based on his two tests. Is it plausible (could it happen – good) and is it predictable (you already know what will happen – very bad).  In my hypothetical (yawn) premise young Simon dreams of being a rock star but his parents are planning to send him to military school, his friends can’t shred cheese let alone a guitar solo and his school gym teacher has made humiliating Simon his life’s work.

Is a young boy dreaming of being a rock star plausible? Sure it is. Is it predictable? As predictable as the sun setting on your chances of getting published. If we follow the author’s advice we need to deliver the unexpected. What if Simon wasn’t so young, like maybe 38? That would be funny. I like funny. Is a 38 year old in school plausible? Not really unless… what if it was drivers ed? Simon is 38 and still trying to get his license. That’s plausible and funny too! What about his hard driving parents? What if they were a pair of aging hippies constantly railing on him to turn on, tune in, drop out. Plausible yes, predictable no. And so it goes. The premise starts to acquire a life of it’s own and expand the possibilities of humor, action, or drama. The next part of our premise makeover…raising the stakes.

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Hanging your Premise upside down

Developing a breakout premise is the first major focus in Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Plausibility (could it happen) is critical while predictability (I already know what’s going to happen) is a tolling bell for another dead premise. In his section on brainstorming the breakout premise he advises looking at your premise and testing it for predictability. If an idea or character seems as familiar as corn flakes then deliver the unexpected by turning it upside down. His example takes a very predictable movie-of-the-week type dramatic premise and develops it into what may be a breakout premise. Even if the final premise may not be “breakout” caliber it is far far better than the tired familiar ideas he starts with. The demonstration is provoking and forces you to start constantly evaluating your own premise, characters, and settings.

The exercise would go something like this…Step 1: Take a premise: Young Simon dreams of becoming a rock star but the universe conspires to snuff out his dreams. His parents have plans to send him to military school to “help” him adapt to society, his friends can’t really play their instruments, and his gym teacher seems to have decided that making Simon miserable is the perfect outlet for his own “anger” issues. This premise is (yaaawn) not bad but applying the techniques in this book could make it snap, crackle and pop!      Step 2: tomorrow.

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