Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft

By Scott Francis | Go to book overview

Donald Maass

“Frustrations happen, but
pour them into your
fiction.”

Donald Maass heads the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City, which represents more than 150 novelists and sells more than 150 novels every year to pubishers in America and overseas. He is the author of several books for fiction writers including The Career Novelist, Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great, and The Breakout Novelist.

Interview conducted by Melissa Wuske.


What piece of advice that
you received over the
course of your career has
had the biggest impact on
your success?

It was some advice I gave myself: Stop fuming over the mistakes fiction writers make, get out there and show them how to be successful. So I started writing books and teaching workshops.


What message do you find
yourself repeating over and
over to writers?

What will make you successful isn’t your publisher, agent, deals, promo or blog. It’s your stories, period.


What’s the worst kind of
mistake that new writers,
freelancers, or book authors
can make?

Weak line-by-line tension in their manuscripts. What makes any type of novel a gripping read is microtension that doesn’t let up.


What’s the one thing you
can’t live without in your
writing/agenting life?

The adrenaline jolt of reading great fiction is what inspires me to keep going.


If you could change one
thing about publishing,
what would it be?

Contracts should have built into them not just a revision framework, but time to play and explore. So many published novels achieve less than they could. Consequently, readers aren’t as engrossed as they could be.


As an agent, what’s the
biggest change you’ve seen
in publishing in the past
five years?

That would be the devastating impact of the economic downturn. It’s made our industry fearful and

-41-

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Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments i
  • Table of Contents ii
  • Introduction 1
  • Laurie Alberts 2
  • Barbara Baig 6
  • William Cane 9
  • Orson Scott Card 13
  • Sage Cohen 21
  • Sarah Dornet 25
  • Jeff Gerke 29
  • April Hamilton 32
  • Becky Levine 37
  • Donald Maass 41
  • Dinty W. Moore 43
  • Jessica Page Morrell 46
  • Steven Harper Piziks 49
  • Peter Seigin 53
  • George Singleton 57
  • James Alexander Thom 60
  • Fred White 62
  • Karen S. Wiesner 64
  • You’Ve Read the Interviews… Now Read the Books! 68
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