Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why I Like Donald Maass

I met Donald Maass in 2001. He was—and still is—a highly esteemed literary agent. At that point in his career, he’d undoubtedly read thousands of manuscripts. Plus, he’d written and published seventeen of his own novels. He was also a sought after conference speaker and, that same year, had penned WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, a hardback how-to that offered, as the cover mentions, “Insider advice for taking your fiction to the next level.”

When my Georgia Romance Writers Chapter invited Maass to do an all-day workshop, I grabbed a front-row seat and soaked up as much information as I could. It didn’t take me long to realize the man understands story and especially the elements that transform an ordinary read into a best-selling novel. I bought his book, then went home and tried to incorporate what I’d learned into my current work-in-progress.

Three years later, Maass published WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, an easy-to-swallow text with accompanying writing exercises. The workbook offers examples from New York Times bestsellers, straightforward explanations about the processes those authors used to take their work to a higher level and exercises to incorporate the lessons learned into the writer’s manuscript.

Ask any Maass enthusiast, and they’ll probably say that his workbook is the bible, of sorts, for learning the breakout method. I hate to admit that his hardback had languished on the reference shelf in my office. I had picked it up a few times, but never really got “into” the text. The workbook, on the other hand, was easy to digest, and I eagerly devoured the information he provided.

Back in those days, I was blogging with a group of Love Inspired Suspense authors and was always looking for a fresh supply of blog topics. Wednesday was my blog day, and I started posting what I’d learned from Maass’ workbook in weekly installments. They say the best way to learn a subject is to teach it, which proved true for me. As I dug into each lesson and then encapsulated the essence of the various exercises into a short blog segment, I started understanding–and appreciating--his breakout method.
ACFW 2009. (L to R) Darlene Buchholz, Donald Maass,
Debby Giusti and Missy Tippens
In September 2009, I attended his workshop at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference and came away with fresh ideas of how to turn a so-so story into a memorable read. Again, I was enthralled by his expertise and the way he challenged those attending his workshop to up their game and write a better book.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I started hosting a writing group in my local area. The folks who take part are writing at different levels in a variety of genres. Some are just getting started. Others have completed manuscripts. A few are published. The number attending the bi-monthly classes fluctuates due to busy schedules, but no matter how few or how many attend on a given evening, enthusiasm and creativity abound. I provide a topic and often use Maass’ exercises to drive home the lesson.

My local writing group hard at work!
They are so creative!
Registration for the American Fiction Writers 2016 Conference is in progress and many of you have probably signed up for the workshops being offered this year. Have you considered the early bird session? Literary agent and story-guru Donald Maass is presenting an in-depth program on his breakout method. Need proof that Maass is worth the extra $125 early-bird registration fee?

If so, here’s a sampling of what I’ve learned and shared with blog readers and writing enthusiasts over the years:

♦To create memorable first lines, Maass suggests taking what we’ve initially written and then shortening it. Perhaps the second sentence would provide a tighter opening. Or combine all the elements from the first paragraph and craft one hard-hitting line that draws the reader into the story. Maass warns against starting with weather, description or setting. Instead lead with a hook that keeps the reader guessing.

♦Equally important are closing lines, which should also be well crafted. Books in a series need to leave the reader hungry for the next release. Stand-alone titles should provide an uplifting resolution or final thought the reader can savor.

Consistent characters become dull over 400 pages so mix things up. Show your protagonist’s less attractive side or take him places he doesn’t want to go.

Determine what the heroine wants, then have her do the exact opposite. Eventually, she’ll recognize her mistake, but that momentary glitch helps her come alive in the reader's mind.

♦ Inner conflict makes a character memorable. Pull him in two different directions and make both choices difficult. What would your character never do or never ask? Have him do that very thing.

♦To improve a scene, cut the fat. Trim the introduction and set-up. Do away with exposition and pare down the dialogue to the essentials. Delete interior monolog and incidental action. Bottom line, take out everything that doesn’t move the scene forward.

♦Include death, self-sacrifice, the giving of cherished gifts, betrayal, farewells or moral choices into your story to deliver a high emotional impact.

♦External turning points need internal turning points as well. How does the character change in each scene? Show him just before something happens as well as a few minutes later. What does he want at the beginning of the scene? How does that differ from what he wants at the end of the scene?

♦As writers, we need to ensure our characters grapple with pertinent issues that strike a chord with those who read our work. So cut the fluff, and zone in on core principles, universal truths and moral dilemmas that engage readers, whether contest judges or editors looking to buy the next bestseller.

♦We all know the antagonist needs to have his or her own GMC (goals, motivation and conflict), but Maass encourages us to go even deeper into the villain’s character. One of the workbook exercises focuses on exploring the bad guy/gal’s sympathetic side. By adding a few details, the reader can see the villain as a multi-dimensional character who may even be likable in some ways. Just as our hero and heroine can be pulled between what they really want/need and what they think they want, if the villain’s good side is in direct opposition to the bad deeds he’s forced to do, that internal struggle can provide a more richly drawn antagonist as well.

Another photo of my wonderful local
group of writers!

♦ Just as we describe a sunset or a garden in bloom, so should we detail the impact events have on the inner person. Maass suggests doing “emotional research.” How does a flesh and blood person react to a similar situation in real life? That glimpse of reality will give authenticity to our characters and will resonate with readers.

♦When we provide opportunities for a character to forgive a wrong or put the needs of another before his own, we are elevating that character’s worth. When characters are elevated, readers are elevated as well.

In conclusion, Maass says that most of the problems writers give their characters are too easily solved. What causes him to reject a submission? Usually it’s when he finds no immediate reason to care about the protagonist and/or a lack of tension within the first two to five pages of the manuscript.

I always provide chocolate for my writing group. Did you
know chocolate stimulates creativity? Help yourself!
To learn more about Donald Maass’ writing techniques, check out his bestsellers: Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook and Fire in Fiction.

Leave a comment about Donald Maass or a tip or technique you use to enhance a story to be entered in two drawings. Each winner will receive a copy of PLAIN DANGER, and a surprise gift!

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti

When Carrie York arrives at the house she inherited from her father in an Amish community, she's shocked to discover a soldier's body on the property. Her neighbor, army special agent Tyler Zimmerman, starts investigating the murder, and Carrie fears it's related to her father's mysterious death. Tyler doesn't trust the pretty speechwriter or the suspicious timing of her arrival—especially since her boss is responsible for his father's death. But when someone attacks Carrie, Tyler insists on protecting her. With his help, will Carrie be able to hold on to her inheritance and her life? 
Order your copy HERE!

Watch for PLAIN TRUTH, available in September.

By Debby Giusti

When widowed doctor Ella Jacobsen is attacked and left for dead in her childrens’ clinic, the peace she’s found in Georgia’s Amish country is shattered. Someone is after something in her clinic and wants her out of the way...but what are they looking for? Ella knows only that  her life is in the hands of army special agent Zach Swain. Zach can’t resist the vulnerable but headstrong Ella, who stares down danger to care for the people she loves. With one look, the loner soldier goes from investigator to protector. To save Ella, he must uncover the secrets that swirl around the idyllic community. And he needs  to do it fast, because Ella is running out of time. 

Pre-order HERE!

by Debby Giusti

Reissued in a two-in-one with Emma Miller’s MIRIAM’S HEART
Available July 2016
Pre-order HERE!


Missy Tippens said...

What fun to see that photo, Debby! That was a great workshop. Very helpful for me (as well as the one at ACFW).

My favorite tip that I still use often is to write down all the things that can happen in a scene, and then choose the very last one I think of. That way I dig deeper than the obvious.

Trixi said...

As a reader, I can see all or most of these in well-written books! Make the characters real in my mind, and you have me hooked. I'll probably follow you wherever you least book wise, 'cause you know, stalking is illegal (unless your celery)....:-/

I have a copy of "Plain Danger" already so pass my chance on to someone else :-) I'll be looking for your September release Debbie!

Trixi said...

And yes, TINA, I know I need to change my little graphic picture....looks too much like Einstien reading, I just keep forgetting to, lol! :-) Or maybe it's just quirky enough to keep it up, I haven't decided yet!

Cynthia Herron said...

I love the insight you shared about Donald Maass's workshops, Debby. Such great tips and writing inspiration! I actually just ordered Writing the Breakout Novel and I can't wait to read it! I hope to make it to the Early Bird session this year.

Something you suggested, I try to do, is to pare down that opening line from something overly witty and longish (and possibly very brilliant-ha!) to something succint, but snappy. Sometimes, first lines come easy and others are labored over for hours. (Our daughter is a great source of inspiration. Teenagers pull no punches and they're rarely at a loss for words. I keep a notebook handy. ...But just don't tell her, please.)

PLAIN DANGER sounds wonderful!

Angela Ruth Strong said...

I hope I can go to the early bird session. Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook helped me finish my very first novel.

Angela Ruth Strong said...

I hope I can go to the early bird session. Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook helped me finish my very first novel.

Rhonda Starnes said...

This is a much needed post as I work on those pesky revisions. Thanks, Debby! I will be ordering the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I had planned to skip the early bird session to keep my time off work to a minimum, but you've convinced me that I need to do my best to make it happen.

Mary Preston said...

Invaluable information for a writer.

Cindy W. said...

Great post Debbie! I have Donald Maass's books and need to start digging into them. Your post has me excited to start studying and working with them. Thank you for sharing.

May you have a blessed week!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Jackie said...

Good morning Debby! You have stirred my creativity this morning, but it's interesting to know chocolate does too. Thanks so much for sharing these great tips. I think it's time to look for my Donald Maas book and probably order the workbooks.

I loved Plain Truth so don't enter me in the drawing. I want somebody else to get to read it.

Thanks again!

Jill Weatherholt said...

Terrific post, Debby! I agree, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook is an excellent resource. I refer to it more than the actual book.
I'd love to be entered in the drawing!

Kelly Bridgewater said...

Great snapshot of what Donald Maas teaches, Debby! Like you, I have all his books, but I haven't gotten around to reading them. There is always another book to review or another chapter to write. I NEED to add these books to my list and actually do it.

I will be at the ACFW conference, but I didn't sign up for Maas' class.

Have a great week everyone!

Debby Giusti said...

Missy, thanks for sharing that Maass tip. I've used it in my class. It's good, isn't it! Well, he's good!

Debby Giusti said...

Trixi, I'm laughing at your stalking celery comment! Too funny!

Often we can see how other authors incorporate Maass' techniques...but we can't seem to make them work in our own stories. Through his exercises, a writer can begin to grasp the various ideas he provides and add them to his/her own work.

Debby Giusti said...

Trixi, I hate to change anything with blogger. I went to Google + last week and got locked out of everything. Every blog, even Seekerville. Needless to say, I'm back to blogger. WHEW! I'm my own worst enemy! LOL!

Debby Giusti said...

Cynthia, did you get the workbook or the hardback? I plan to read his Fire in Fiction, which I purchased some years ago but haven't read. My bad!

Love that you keep a notebook with your teen daughter's comments! Brilliant. I won't tell!

Maass says not to start with weather, which I'm guilty of doing. Love to have a storm hitting as the suspense story opens. :) Again, my bad!

Debby Giusti said...

Angela, another Maass enthusiast! YAY! Hope you enjoy the early-bird session. I find his workshops energizing, even if he doesn't provide chocolate. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Rhonda, I know how few days teachers get to take off. Hope you find Maass worth your time. Can you arrive the night prior so you don't lose WED? You're driving, I'm sure. How long of a trip is it for you? Where I live in the Atlanta area is about a four-hour drive from Nashville! Should be a great conference! Can't wait to see you!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Hope you can use some of the tips, Mary Preston!

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy, his workbook is the easiest to work through. Short sections. Excerpts from the novels of big name authors that drive home the points Maass is making and then exercises to incorporate the tips into our own work. Let me know what you think!

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie! Glad to know I'm not the only one who buys how-tos and then shelves them. :)

Thanks for your support and friendship!

Debby Giusti said...

Jill, you're in the drawing. Yes, that workbook is the best. I wonder if he's published a new edition with more exercises? Need to check that out!

Debby Giusti said...

Kelly, I keep telling myself to read a small section of a craft study each day, but like you, time gets away from me and my reading/study gets left behind.

Looking forward to seeing you at ACFW! I'm eager to hear Ted Dekker. Do you read his work? I've enjoyed a number of his novels. He stopped by an ACFW Conference some years ago. A group of us flocked around him. He was enthusiastic and energetic. Hopefully, his talks will be power charged with lots of good take-home tips and writing information. Should be a great conference.

Debby Giusti said...

BTW, the coffee's hot. I'm pouring a second cup. Plus, I've brought an assortment of breakfast food to share...hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, bagels and muffins. Enjoy!

Rhonda Starnes said...

Debby, depending on traffic, it's a two-and-a-half to three hour drive. I had planned to work 1/2 a day on Thursday, leaving here around 11:00. If I do work it out where I can go to the early bird portion, I'd definitely leave here Wednesday after school, but then I've got the added cost of another night's hotel along with the additional cost of the early bird session. Will just have to look at the numbers and decide what to do. In the meantime, I'll get the workbook and learn all I can over the summer break. :)

Wilani Wahl said...

I put his book on my wish list. My life is rather hectic and in a week it will get a little better. I am moving tomorrow. I find a cute little house to rent. I have been living in my brother's basement for seven years. To again have a place of my own is a dream come true. One of the drawbacks will be no Internet for awhile. So if you don't hear much from me, please know that it is only temporary. I will try checking in from my phone and will have to plan a trip to the library with my laptop. I'm just feeling a tad bit overwhelmed at the moment.

Debby Giusti said...

Rhonda, plus there's a $25 fee for adding the session to your already paid registration. That takes the early bird workshop up to $150, which is pricey!

Debby Giusti said...

Wilani, we'll be praying for your move. How wonderful to have a place of your own. Take one day at a time. Everything is going to work out. Remember to bless your new home! I love to invite the Lord into our dwellings...whether a hotel room, vacation condo or new home!

I'm excited for you. Check in when you can. We'll keep the prayers coming!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, DEBBY! Thank for sharing these meaty tips! I've had Maass's book for ages, but never got around to finishing it. It still has the bookmark in it where I left off! It appears, though, that the workbook would be a sound investment, so Amazon Prime, here I come! :)

I can hardly wait for your new Amish country suspense debut!

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, I love Donald Maass's workbook! And this post! You've given terrific tips for writing strong. It's fun to see you, Missy and Darlene with Maass.

I'm impressed that you host a writer's group. You're such a giving person so I'm not surprised that you'd give so much of yourself and your time.


Janet Dean said...

WILANI, moving is a big chore, but you must be so excited to have your own place. We're excited for you! Know you'll show up in Seekerville when you can.

Hugs, Janet

CatMom said...

Great post, Debby---going into my Keeper File. I must confess I don't have Donald Maass' book or workbook, but am going to change that SOON! Thank you for all that you shared--excellent tips that already have me motivated today. :)
Thanks for bringing the yummy breakfast foods! I've brought along a peach cobbler and pecan pie for later on. ;)
Hugs, Patti Jo

DebH said...

Hi Debby
This is a great post. I think I need to get Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. It sounds like I'd actually work through it rather than get a book that will collect dust before I get around to reading it. (can Kindle books generate digital dust?)

As for chocolate generating creativity... I've known that for awhile through watching the creative ways the Gupster attempts to glom onto his favorite chocolate items in the kitchen and pantry. It's amazing what a toddler (who is now a six year old) will do for that elusive piece of yum. ;)

Love your surprise gifts, please put my name in the draw.

Renee McBride said...

Good morning, Debby!

Thank you for encapsulating these lessons from Donald Mass. A few years ago, a small group of writers and I started going through the workbook with our latest WIPs. I learned so much from it that I run through it every time I finish a new manuscript. I'm sure it's helped me get this far in the submission process.

I can't wait to meet all the Seekers in person. You've been a rock on this turbulent writing journey.

God bless you and have a great day.

Renee McBride said...

Good morning, Debby!

Thank you for encapsulating these lessons from Donald Mass. A few years ago, a small group of writers and I started going through the workbook with our latest WIPs. I learned so much from it that I run through it every time I finish a new manuscript. I'm sure it's helped me get this far in the submission process.

I can't wait to meet all the Seekers in person. You've been a rock on this turbulent writing journey.

God bless you and have a great day.

DebH said...

wish I lived in the Atlanta area so I could go to your writer's group stuff. well really, I'd just enjoy being close enough to a Seeker so I could visit, live and in person every once in awhile. *sigh*

Cynthia Herron said...

Debby, in answer to your question--I got the hardback. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

WILANI -- SO excited for you! But moving can be overwhelming even when in good health, so be EXTRA nice to yourself and get as much rest as you can as you make this transition.

Keli Gwyn said...

Hi, Debby! I'm another who has Donald Maass's books on the shelf but has yet to read them. Based on your great post, it sounds like I need to put them at the top of my TBR pile.

How did you start your writing group? Is it open to all writers or primarily those writing for the Christian market?

Myra Johnson said...

Great discussion of Maass's Breakout Novel points, Debby--thanks! I admit, I have all those books on my writing craft shelf, but I haven't given them the in-depth study that you certainly have. It would be so fun to participate in your writing class!

Sandy Smith said...

Interesting post, Debby. It gives me a lot to think about while writing my novel.

Please enter me in the drawing.

Jill Kemerer said...

Ooh, Debby, I'm ordering the workbook! I have his book, The Fire in Fiction, and it's terrific, but I've never read (I have no idea why!!) Writing The Breakout Novel! Thanks for the tips! I will take a piece of the chocolate, too... ;)

Debby Giusti said...

Glynna, hope you enjoy the Maass workbook!

Thanks for your shout out about my next series!

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, I'm glad I could find the picture in my archives! Sometimes it's hard to track down the right photo!

Julie Lessman said...

DEB!!! I LOVE Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook -- mine is practically in tatters!! Because of Donald Maass, I made my very first heroine a polio victim with a slight limp just to "up the stakes." :)

In fact, I'm almost embarrassed to say that Maass is the only writing guru I've ever read because for me, he did the trick.

But, WOW, the wealth of other points you listed from his seminars are AMAZING, which doesn't surprise me in the least, both because Donald Maass is amazing, and so are you at taking notes and transforming them into a meaty blog. :)

Hugs and great blog, my friend -- a printer-offer for sure!


Debby Giusti said...

Patti Jo, I should have asked you to bake some yummy peach breakfast pastry for us today! :)

I'm not waiting until after lunch to enjoy the peach cobbler or pecan pie! I'm cutting into both. Who wants a bit of each?

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hi, Debby! I so love Donald Maass! I used his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook on at least three of my books, and look where I am! (Haha!) Seriously, it is awesome. Really helpful. And I was there in 2009 for his workshop. I always fall a little in love whenever I meet someone who's Jewish--they just make me feel closer to Jesus. I was too shy to go up and meet him, but I still fell a little in love with him! (I know I'm weird! Haha!)
This totally makes me want to go to the Early Bird this year!!! I had forgotten Donald Maass was going to be there. I wasn't planning on going to ACFW at all this year, but now I'm gonna have to think and pray about it.
Love you, Debby!!! (Even though you're not Jewish!) :-)
(And now Donald Maass is filing for a restraining order . . .)

Debby Giusti said...

DebH, you're in the drawing! Give your little guy--who's getting so big--a hug from me!

Debby Giusti said...

Renee, how smart to work through the Maass workbook with your writing group! Like you, I refer to my copy often. It's dogeared and well marked. Each time I re-read a section, I pick up some new insight.

Debby Giusti said...

DebH, would love to connect in person. Hopefully, one of these days we will!

Marianne Barkman said...

Debby, what a great post...and I thought Seekerville and its occupants not only knew all there was to know, but used it in their novels! SEEKERVILLE ROCKS!!!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Take it to the conference, Cynthia, and have him autograph your copy! Looking forward to seeing you at ACFW!

Has anyone mentioned that the Seekers usually meet in the lobby at the end of the day? We love to see everyone and catch up on what's happening in your part of the world. Make sure you find us at the hotel!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

What a great post, Debby! I want to attend the Donald Maass early bird workshop, but it's not in the budget right now. Sigh. I've heard so many great things about his teaching. I need to pick up one of his books.

Something Susan May Warren teaches is to give a character competing values. Then put them in situations where their values are pitted against each other. When they have to choose between values they hold dear it ups the tension for them. :)

Please put me in the drawing. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

I discovered Maass the same year, Debby. At a Colorado Romance Writers workshop. He jumped on a table to make a point. I will never forget, lol.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I didn't know you have a writing group, Debby. And you bribe them with chocolate. How savvy of you.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Keli,
How did my writing group start? I heard God's prompting to start a group at church. I hesitated for a number of months and then finally put an announcement in our church bulletin. Over the years, I've had folks from all over our community take part.

As always happens, I've been abundantly blessed. Plus, it's helped me hone in on how to teach story creation. I'm always amazed at the creativity and ideas that spring from the group.

Sometimes we brainstorm ideas, which is a great way to understand all the parts needed to make a story come to life. Those sessions led to a workshop I did at Moonlight and Magnolias that was very well received.

Another possible workshop idea took hold during my class last Monday. I saw lights go on in a number of folks' eyes as they worked through the conflict, both internal and external, in their own stories.

So...if you're feeling an inner nudge to teach a class, do so! I don't think you'll regret your decision!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Myra, so many of us buy the how-to books, but then don't read them. I need to include study in my daily routine. If only there were more hours in the day!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Sandy! You're in the drawing. Hope you have a lovely day! Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Jill, now you've convinced me to read Fire in Fiction! Thank you!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Julie, glad to know you share my love of Maass! In fact, I was going to title this blog post, "My love affair with Donald Maass!" Of course, that could have gotten me in trouble! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Melanie, another lover of Maass! We're all fan girls! :)

Hope you decide to attend ACFW! Would love to see you there.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Marianne. We're always learning. That's the beauty of writing. There's never an end point...we just keep moving forward, trying to improve our craft.

Your support means so much to us. Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Jeanne, you're in the drawing. Susie is another story guru. I need to get her book! We'll miss you at ACFW. How's the leg?

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, I hadn't heard of Donald Maass before I attended that first workshop. I sat in the front row and was blown away! Fortunately, his feet remained on the floor. :)

I started bringing chocolate to the writing group when I first asked them to share the short exercises they had written in class. I hate to be put on the spot like that and wanted to--as you mentioned--bribe them! :) Now they get chocolate whether they share or not. But wait, they all share! And they're all so good!

Mary Connealy said...

Debbie great post.
I need to learn something. :)

Richard Mabry said...

Debby, I agree that advice from Donald Maass is invaluable for writers, but please don't "bury the lead." The headline should read "Chocolate is important for writers. And, oh, yes--Donald Maass gives great advice." : )

Carol Garvin said...

Don's workbook is an invaluable tool for every level of writer. I encountered him at the first Surrey International Writers' Conference I attended in 2004. I was totally intimidated by his knowledge and communication skills ... and then he up and married the instructor/mentor of my local writing group, Lisa Rector. They are such a beautiful, likeable AND talented couple, as well as wonderful parents.

Debby Giusti said...

Mary, you're too funny!

Debby Giusti said...

Love your suggestion for a revised title, Doctor Mabry!

What was I thinking? Chocolate always comes first! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Carol, thanks for sharing that insiders look at Donald Maass! How nice to learn that he is a good man and a wonderful husband and father.

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, you mentioned how creative your writing group is. That sounds lovely. I wish i could be like that. Whenever I attend a workshop with writing exercises, I freeze up and can't write. Even when I write something, I'm terrified of being called on to read mine. I suspect this is part of the sick need to revise continuously. I'm probably the only writer on the planet who panics during interactive workshops.:-(


Jeanne Takenaka said...

DEBBY, I'll be at ACFW. I just can't take Donald Maass' class. :( I'm going to hunt you down for a hug. ;)

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, I work and rework my prose. Reading on the spot isn't my thing either. Although maybe for chocolate! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Jeanne, so glad you'll be at the conference. I always look forward to seeing you! Yes, expect hugs from me...and I'll expect the same from you! :)

Barbara Scott said...

Debby, both of Donald Maass's books are in my library, but I have to admit I haven't gone through the workbook. I'll look into the early bird session though since I've never heard him speak. Thanks for the info!

Tanya Agler said...

Debby, I'm already signed up for the early bird session. It will be the first time I've heard him in person. I've only read Writing the Breakout Novel, not his other book. I might have to order the Workbook before I start my next book.

Thank you for the tips, especially about first lines. I don't struggle with last lines, but I sure struggle with first lines.

And chocolate boosts creativity?! Good to know.

Mary Connealy said...

I love that you're teaching a writer's class, Debbie, what a great idea! Good for you!

Edwina said...


Thanks for sharing so many tips - truly helpful!


Debby Giusti said...

Barbara! Looking forward to seeing you at ACFW!

Debby Giusti said...


Opening lines are always difficult to write, in my opinion! I need to study Maass as well!

See you SAT at GRW!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary, the folks who attend the class are VERY talented! They make it easy for me.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Edwina! Hope you can use a few of them. The credit goes to Maass!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Debby I so needed your post today. I'm in the middle of a manuscript revisions and really do need to cut the fat and get things mobing and keep them on track.

I love Donald Maas workshops. I've been to several and they are sooooo productive. What I like the most is that he has you apply what he's teaching to your wip. So what you learn is RELEVANT.

GOOD ADVICE to go to the Donald Maas workshop if you are at a conference that offers them.

Janet Dean said...

The list of those attending ACFW is exciting! Looking forward to seeing everyone!


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, DEB ... uh, yeah, that might have caused a stir. ;)


Terri said...

Debby, unfortunately I won't be at ACFW this year. :-( it just didn't work this year? Enjoy the Donald Maas Early Bird. Oh, and if chocolate stimulates creativity, I should be the most creative woman in the United States.

Larissa Reinhart said...

Loved this Debby! I miss our group, so enjoyed seeing familiar faces in those pictures. You do such a good job at explaining Maas's ideas. Wonderful.

Carroll Pellegrinelli said...

I agree with Larissa. Although Donald Maas' tips are very informative, it's Debby's presentation that makes the difference. As all of you can imagine, Debby is an excellent writing instructor. Thank you Debby for taking time out of your busy life to teach and inspire us.

Debby Giusti said...

Terri, we'll miss you!

Debby Giusti said...

Larissa, come back to Georgia! Miss you!

Debby Giusti said...

Carroll! You're so sweet! And such a talented woman. Thanks for being part of the writing group. It's fun because of you and all those who take part. Hugs!