Welcome to the Cephalopod Coffee House. The purpose of the coffee house is to write about the best book you read in the past month, and visit others who have done the same.
This month I read, and very much enjoyed, Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass.
I chose this book because I have been having problems with writing my second novel. It was a story I liked, filled with characters I loved, but I couldn't get it to come out right. I googled around for writing books and this one seemed to be on the top of a lot of peoples' lists.
Donald Maass is a literary agent, and he uses his experience to pin point the common traits that all breakout novels share. He doesn't particularly focus on good writing - as we all know, popular books aren't always the most well written ones - and he doesn't go too much into plotting a novel. He does touch on characters, settings, themes, and most importantly (or at least, what I found most important) setting the stakes, then raising them. He uses examples from different breakout novels to illustrate his points, which was very helpful.
While the book is very helpful, the forward and some of the points of reference could be updated. It was published in 2000, before 9/11, and the e-publishing boom, and when Harry Potter was still a series for children, but otherwise, the advice seems current and relevant.
Don't forget to stop by other members of the coffee house: