Well, it’s… only sort of a book club, for the next month or so. In Carnivory: The Art of Eating One’s Self, protagonist Frank Hearwynn will be reading chapters of Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel (2001, Writer’s Digest Books) to get advice on completing his first novel manuscript. I’ve decided to give a heads up about which chapter Frank will be focusing on next, because some folks might find it educational–or, just really really satisfying to watch another writer squirm as he strives and suffers, for a while.
A Book Inside of a Book Inside of a Blog
I’m focusing on Maass’ book for Carnivory because it was one of my favorite writer’s-self-help reads once upon a time ago (there are probably more recently published versions now, and there was also a workbook available the last time I checked), and the book was suggested to me by a professor at the University of Iowa when I took a vacation there years ago. Writing the Breakout Novel is an incredibly informative, straightforward, and enjoyable guide that I always recommend to writer friends.
Yes, the publishing market (and, arguably, the publishing process) has changed a great deal since 2001, but raising stakes, deepening plots, crafting larger-than-life characters… all are strategies that just make good sense, forever. I really came to appreciate these lessons over the years when I recognized that my favorite books, the soap operas I loved, and then also the more fascinating television shows I was willing to watch–all of them were so compelling or fun because effective storytelling was involved.
It’s Also Good for Your Baby
When you’re depressed by writer’s block, it’s easy to forget that novel writing is an art form. So, there’s no real need to feel lonesome about the naturally private process of trial and error while crafting fiction or the frustration that can come from juggling so many of your own abstract ideas long-term, while you write ‘your baby.’ Other people are going through it too, of course, and have been making strides at figuring out fiction writing for a long time. Therefore, good guidebooks that are worth reading and can help us, must already exist. If nothing else soothes you, it can’t hurt to try reading about writing.
So then, if you’d like to give a good writing guide a shot, I invite you to read along with Frank Hearwynn. We’ll be reflecting upon Maass’ Chapter Eight: Multiple Viewpoints, Subplots, Pace, Voice, Endings in the next installment of Carnivory. Frank is terrified of reading the book in order, for a goofy reason I will gladly explain later on.
I’m no expert myself, but why should that stop me from ‘trying to help a sista or brotha out’ and pay good advice forward, you know?
See you on Wednesday, homies.