Thankful for Craft Books

I am knee deep in edits with my current manuscript and I'm loving every minute. I just finished my first round and sent it off to a few beta readers to get impressions before I keep going. I'm trying something new this time so I thought I'd share.

When I was preparing to start edits for this manuscript (RoR) one of my CPs started raving about a new book she was using for her current edits. If you follow this blog, you know I love craft books. So off I went to the bookstore and picked up my own copy of WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK by Donald Maas.

Buy it on Amazon

I had seen this book before and in the interest of full disclosure I didn't buy it on purpose. For one, I already have several great books about how to write a novel and I wasn't really interested in a new one at the time. Also, the idea that a Breakout novel can be formulated turned me off a bit.

I'm so glad I was able to get past my hangups because this book is great. First off, it's not a how to write your novel book. In fact, Maass states this works best if you work through the book with an already completed draft in hand. Second, it isn't trying to pawn off some formula for writing a best-seller. Rather, it gives concrete examples from books that did top the charts on ways to jazz up what you already have.

What I love the most about this book is that it isn't a list of things other people did we are then supposed to copy. It is a clear guidebook full of hands on exercises that I was able to use in my manuscript.

One of my favorite sections was on characters. Writing characters is one of my strengths, while I tend to struggle with maintaining external conflict. I almost skipped the character section, but I'm so glad I didn't. Maass asked readers to write out a list of things such as what is something your character would never say, never think, never do. Now think of a situation in which they would do that. This exercise alone was well worth the price of the book. I was able to add a level of depth to the story that before only existed in my head. Now, I hope, it comes through on the pages as well.

I really enjoyed working through this book and I plan to use it with all my manuscripts moving forward. Will RoR be my breakout novel? Who knows. Either way, I know I have a manuscript that is much improved by the suggestions from Maass's book.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you have another editing book that is your go-to resource? Let me know.