Not long ago I mentioned how much I liked Donald Maass. You can find that post here. I don't know much about him as an agent, except he's a very good one, well known. And I know one day I hope to have something ready to query him with.
Writing the Breakout Novel was one of the first books on writing craft I bought many years ago. I still go back and reread parts of it even now. Naturally, I had to have the workbook that went along with it. I even typed all the questions from the workbook into a Word doc, printed it out and had it spiral bound at a local office supply place so I could fill in the answers without messing up my workbook. Plus, I can print out the questions and make a workbook for each novel I write. (It's very cool and handy.)
And FYI, the trophy that's in the middle of the very top, with the red accents, is from the Pen to Press Retreat last May in New Orleans. It's the "Spirit of Excellence" award. The smaller trophy is 2nd place for a non-fiction proposal.
In the post linked above, I let y'all know Donald Maass had joined Twitter and was tweeting a prompt each day for a month. But not only that, each Tuesday he adds another prompt to the list. After his month of prompts was over, I asked permission to share those prompts with y'all on my blog and he kindly said yes. So, here's the first 10 to get you started.
01. What’s the worst thing your MC does? Whom and how does that hurt? Now work backwards, set it up to hurt even more.
02. What’s the most selfless thing your MC does? What good change or effect does that have on someone unexpected? Add that in.
03. Find any violence in your ms. Delete any shock, fear or horror. Replace with two *conflicting* emotions that are less obvious.
04. Choose a middle scene: What does POV character feel most strongly? Evoke that feeling without naming it, through actions alone.
05. What should your readers most see, understand or be angry about? At what story moment will that happen? Heighten it in two ways.
06. How does your POV character change in your current scene? Work backwards. Make that change unlikely, a surprise or impossible.
07. What does a sidekick or secondary character see about your MC that your MC denies? Force a showdown over it.
08. Over what does your MC disagree with his/her boss or mentor? When does the boss/mentor prove to be right?
09. What’s a place in your story where something significant happens? Switch two other story events to that location too.
10. In your current scene, what’s a setting detail that delights or disgusts your POV character? Why? Elaborate & add.
You can find more information about Donald Maass as an agent on his website
Here's a link to his latest "how to" book. The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writer.
If you aren't on Twitter, you need to get there and follow him. You can find him as DonMaass. These prompts will make a difference in your stories if you use them. And while you're on Twitter, follow me too.