No formula can predict the sudden plot twist that leaps from an author's unconscious mind to his fingertips to the computer screen, causing him to whistle and exclaim, "Where did that come from?" Is that true magic? In a way. But it is dangerous to hope that random flashes of lightning will make one's fortune as a writer. ~Donald Maass
Unless, of course, those shining gems emerge from steady hard work and focus on learning craft. But then that's not exactly a flash of lightning, is it?
I have been in a manuscript rewriting crisis for more than a year. I'm embarrassed to admit it. Yet the offending project is one I can't seem to move on from. It's a project that, though it has promising elements, falls into fiasco by the midpoint and only gets more confused from there. Great characters, interesting premise, surprising plot twists ... BUT.
I have yet to feel passionate about any editing attempt to date. Needless to say, I've been spinning my wheels, banging my head, wishing for divine intervention to lead me to the right course of action. Where the f*ck is my Muse? Well, she can't be expected to do all the heavy lifting, can she?
In the interim, I've read craft books, taken workshops, gone to conferences, all searching for that gem that might help me break free from the blockades around making this book the one I hoped it would be. Through all of that research and attention to craft, I have yet to learn how to excavate the gems and repair the shards with an end result of a fully intact working skeleton.
So I've been revisiting conference notes, scouring craft blogs, and rereading writing books.
WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass.
I have been fortunate enough to attend a couple of his workshops at conferences and I've always found him on the mark, inspiring, motivating, and in turn find myself excited about every morsel he shares. But I think, as with everything, the assimilation of knowledge and information into true understand has a time and place. I was open to what his approach could teach me before, but I wasn't in the place to process or utilize it effectively. And I think that is one reason immersing yourself in the writing culture is so important if you want to grow as a writer. You never know when that shimmering nugget will be the one you need. And you can't always know when that explosion of glittering inspiration will break through.
I read WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL last night in one sitting. All 260 pages. And though I have read it before, maybe now is my time. Because, for some reason, though I know it to be false, I feel like I'd never read it before now. I was astonished and inspired.
Donald Maass does an expert job of balancing the concerns of craft, art, and business in his approach to writing with reason and expertise. It's a great book for any writer wanting a readership.
A lot of people in my life are writers--aspiring, struggling, disheartened, tired.
Revisit the knowledge you know.
Then learn something new. Rinse. Repeat.
Read WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. And if you have, but haven't in a while, pick it back up. You might be surprised, like me, by what you find in it's pages.