Racing through to the End of the BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK

Since I’ve subjected all of you to lots of raving, whining, dissecting, and moaning about Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, I figure it’s only fair to announce here, today, that…I FINISHED THE BOOK!!!

I have to admit, I want a little crazy today to get through the last bit. I looked in my computer files, and I only had three worksheets left!!! And I had something like four hours ahead of me, with no other claims on my time. (Not to mention all those extra seconds I gained by deciding I’d better get back on the less-sugar-kick today and not making all those trips back and forth to the chocolate stash.)

Then, of course, I looked at the actual workbook, and saw that I had something like seven chapters left, and some of those had multiple worksheets. (Anyone else seeing a striking resemblance to the last week of school here, when the teachers suddenly decide to schedule all that surprise work for the kids?) For some absolutely incomprehensible reason, when I’d set up all the files for the worksheets, I’d stopped early. WHAT?! As one of my many favorite nephews says, “That’s crazy talk!” But sadly true.

Still, I’d said–both to myself and to Facebook–that I was finishing the workbook today. And I still had those four hours. And I had been working more quickly lately.

Can I just say that my fingers hurt. And my wrists. Not to mention my brain.

Confession: No, I didn’t do everything. As much as I’ve wanted to stick with the demands of the workbook, all the way through I’ve found a question here, a worksheet there, that I wasn’t ready to take on. I really need to do some factory/strike research before I can plot the Love Interest’s whole storyline. The draft I have is a totally tangled mess, so when Mr. Maass says to pick a scene and revise it, I sometimes find myself laughing. With a slight hysterical edge. And putting in a note that I’ll come back to that later, when I actually HAVE SOMETHING WORTH REVISING.

And I got a little more…that way on these last pages. Honestly, I didn’t take time to do the Brainstorming worksheet that wanted me to come up withanother story. Today?! I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on theme. But…I so took on the Symbol worksheet. And the one where you have to come down on the antagonist’s side. And I wrote a pitch!!! Yeah, baby.

Overall feeling? Good, basically. It’s taken me a lot longer than I wanted to get through this, but ours is not to dwell on the past, but only to move on into the future. I think I must know this story and these characters better than I did when I started, but truthfully–I can’t see it yet. Maybe that’ll come with plotting, maybe not until I actually dive back into writing. Oh, but, please, let it come!

At the end of this whole process, I feel a little bit noodled by trying to think about all this, rather than just put words onto the page and see what comes. I had moments where I felt as though I was just doing exercises, without being all that connected with my MC and her world. I’m pretty sure this was a factor of not being able to just commit hours every day to working through things, of not staying immersed. I definitely had moments where I fell in love with Caro all over again, with her needs and her conflicts. I’m counting on those moments to stick with me as I plot and as I get started on the next draft. If they don’t, I may have to face the possibility that this story isn’t the right one for me to be writing…today. I’m hoping  not, though! I’m hoping the work I’ve done has taken me deep enough that I’ll be hooked and committed and able to write it.

I’m sure you’ll hear all about it here, whatever I do decide. (Lucky you!)

For today, right now, how am I feeling? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m Shakin’! (Dare you not to dance.)


  1. joycemoyerhostetter says:

    Well, I can’t dance and I haven’t done Donald Maas’ workbook but you inspire me, Becky!

    One of these days I am going to buy that workbook and make my way through it.


  2. Congratulations! And yes, I think it will deepen your knowledge of your characters and your ability to portray them well. At least, I’m counting on it and I haven’t done nearly as many of the exercises you have!


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