One person I pay a lot of attention to is Donald Maass, from Donald Maass Literary Agency. He’s written several books and frequently contributes articles to Writer Unboxed and other groups, but I think my go-to book from him right now is The Breakout Novelist. That book is a quasi-compilation of much of Maass’s earlier works and is written to be a sort-of story doctor for when you get stuck or jammed in a novel.
One thing I find particularly useful about the book is the extensive series of exercises. I’m not always a big fan of exercises in books on writing, but the intent of a lot of Maass’s exercises is to get you to think deeper about the major parts of the story, characters, plot, theme, setting etc. as opposed to ‘write two paragraphs on x.’
Having had a chance to go through a developmental edit with Girl Friday Productions as well, many of the exercises are directly relatable to issues that my developmental editor mentioned, like the nine-tenths of character details and timeline issues that probably don’t even make it directly into the novel, but which are important to know since they can be obliquely referenced to give added depth. Aside from reading the book, the worksheets and all the exercises are freely available through Writer’s Digest at http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/breakout-worksheets.
I’ve gone through a couple of other books by Maass as well (currently enjoying The Emotional Craft of Fiction) but I’d have to say that The Breakout Novelist is my favorite so far.
Hi Alistair, you’re welcome -- I think this could be expanded to books and software, etc. Those are all resources we might be able to use, so if you have some, please share.
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