Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Lessons from Donald Maass

Santa left a copy of WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, by Donald Maass, under the tree for me this year! I first met DM when my Georgia Romance Writers Chapter invited him to do a one-day workshop for our group a few years ago. It was great day, full of lots of hands on writing exercises that I could incorporate into my work in progress. Of course, I bought his book and was convinced my craft would instantly improve.

Over the years, the text has gathered dust, and I've long forgotten most of the tips he shared either at the workshop and in his book. A dear friend Sharon Yanish, who has since moved to the good life in sunny Florida, invited DM to do a workshop for her local Southwest Florida chapter, scheduled for January 26th. Sharon's a big fan of Maass' technique, and she insisted his workbook was better than the book. So this year I dropped a few hints to hubby, AKA Santa, that the workbook would be a nice Christmas surprise. Thus the reason I made a resolution on January 2nd to incorporate some of DM's tips and techniques into my 2008 writing.

Long story to get to the point. I'll be blogging about what I've read and what I've learned over the next few weeks. If you're a Maass junkie or just interested in what I've picked up from his exercises, tune in on Wednesdays.

His first lesson focuses on heroes! He suggests writing down the names of our own personal heroes and then determining what characteristics or qualities make that person stand out.

Of course, that got me thinking. My hero? Well, hubby, naturally. But also my son. He's a Captain in the US Army, slotted to be promoted to Major in February. He attended North Georgia College and State University, a four-year military college, and was commissioned in the Army upon graduation. Just a year later, he was on his way to Kosovo to help the folks in that war-torn country. Later, he had a three-year tour in Germany where he fell in love with the country and its people. After a short time home for Ranger School, Jump School (He was the top graduate in his class.) and Airborne School, he was deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne. A little over a year after he returned home, he was heading back to Iraq for a second tour. Despite separation from friends and family, he never complains. I know his "can do" attitude is not unique in the military. Most of our wonderful guys and gals in uniform have the same optimism and sense of duty, honor, country that defines my son. But he's closest to my heart and, therefore, my biggest hero.

Next, DM notes the importance of having our protagonist act heroically in the first scene. Then we need to include at least six more situations where he/she can demonstrate those qualities as the story progresses toward the climax.

Okay, I'm off to review the book I'm working on now to ensure my main character is heroic. Thanks, DM, for some great tips!

Wishing you abundant blessings!

1 comment:

Lisa Mondello said...

Deb I LOVE the cover of your next book. Very nice. I have the Donald Maass workbook and love it. If he ever swings by to my neck of the woods, I'd love to take his workshop.