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
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.