Join author/literary agent
Donald Maass for a one-of-a-kind learning experience!

Welcome to our flagship workshop.

For eighteen years, Donald Maass has partnered with Free Expressions Seminars to offer one of the industry's most acclaimed writing workshops.

Many of our students have gone on to find agent representation, publishing—even bestselling—success, and to have their works optioned (and produced) for film and television.

We’re so proud of those successes and also proud that many of our well-published alumni return to take this workshop a second or third time (or more).

We’re also proud of the community these workshops help create, the friendships that have been fostered over the years.

This is a substantive, stimulating, and rewarding experience for writers who crave excellence and whose focus is not just on one published work but on a longtime career in publishing.

Why 2.0?


Included are new or revised units on story discovery, strong voice, standout characters, the inner journey, compelling story worlds, beautiful writing, creating resonance and finding meaning in both story and process. 

Breakout fundamentals are also covered: strong characters, inner conflict, personal stakes, plot layers, powerful scenes, micro-tension, practical theme techniques and much more.

Writers of commercial fiction who wish to soar out of category, as well as literary novelists who want to learn how to make powerful story principles work for them, will find the Breakout Novel Intensive 2.0 an idea-packed and career enriching experience.

This workshop is as ideal for those just beginning a new project as it is for those embarking on a revision of a completed work. While writers at all level of craft are welcome, we assume a basic understanding of fiction craft.

“Expect to work harder than you have ever worked but to come away with a novel that is bigger and more powerful than you ever imagined you could write.”

-- Donald Maass


Donald Maass Literary Agent / Author

Donald Maass
Literary Agent / Author

Lorin Oberweger Author / Editor

Lorin Oberweger
Author / Editor


Brenda Windberg Author / Editor

Brenda Windberg
Author / Editor

Jason Sitzes Author / Editor

Jason Sitzes
Author / Editor


Further staff, TBA


  • If you are serious about your writing, sign up for the next one now. It is a week where you will discover more about your manuscript and your writing than you would otherwise learn all year. You will come out of this armed with specific techniques to make your novel better, and maybe some new supportive friendships to help you on your road to becoming a published author. I think the BONIs are nothing short of brilliant.
    — Lissa Price, author STARTERS
  • You have a choice in how you approach your career: you can spend money going to writers' conferences for years and have fun but not gain any true benefit for your craft, or you can invest in a week at BONI where Lorin and Don will unearth, believe me—excavate—the best writer in you. You and your writing, as well as your perception of yourself as a writer, will be forever changed. Oh, and yes, you will have fun there, too.
    — Shirley Barker, represented by Donald Maass Literary Agency
  • In one week, I learned more than I ever had in the two years it took to earn my MFA, and at a fraction of the cost. The entire staff taught me to break through the ceiling of my own fear to understand that I could--that I must--write that which was most outrageous and passionate and bigger than me.
    — Julia Greco
  • I had difficulty sleeping the entire time I was there because my brain had been lit on fire. The staff and faculty provided new insights as to how to bring my storytelling up a notch, but just as incredible were the exchanges with my fellow BONI attendees. Years later, we are still a support group for each other.
    — Linda C. McCabe, author QUEST OF THE WARRIOR MAID
  • Yes, we worked our tails off, but it’s not all work. The other writers were universally kind and supportive, and I met a number of people whom I now count as friends and who became part of my critique group. I enthusiastically recommend the BONI experience to writers of every skill level.
    — Sharon Roest
  • I'd read books, I'd been to conferences and other workshops, but I knew I was still missing something in my writing. The Breakout Novel intensive answered my question and more. I've been three times, and every time I attend, I learn something new and grow further in my writing ability. When I get published, I know this workshop, and Don, Lorin and the rest of the staff will have played a major role in my achievement.
    — Nancy Laughlin
  • Donald Maass knows what a novel needs to succeed, and he knows how to teach it. At BONI, I learned the skills I needed to transform my manuscript from "almost ready" to "sold!" Without Mr. Maass and Lorin, I would not have a book in my hand today.
    — Christina Miller, author COUNTERFEIT COURTSHIP, Love Inspired Historical (Harlequin)


  • Morning classes with Donald Maass, geared toward building students' specific projects using concepts covered in his popular, Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing 21st Century Fiction, and The Emotional Craft of Fiction.

  • Private room and bath, plus ALL meals from workshop start to finish, beginning with dinner on Monday and ending with breakfast on Sunday.

  • A private thirty-minute consultation with Donald Maass, who reads fifty pages of each student's manuscript and other supporting material.

  • Private consultations with editors/authors Lorin Oberweger, Brenda Windberg and other industry pros.

  • Customized instruction geared toward students' specific writing needs and questions.

  • A special session on micro-tension and other evening offerings.

  • Access to private writing resource section on Free Expressions website.

  • Invitation to attend the *exclusive* BONI Graduate Learning Retreat.

In order to ensure an intimate and productive environment for our students, enrollment is strictly limited to forty writers. Participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so please register early.





Workshop cost of $2495 for new students is ALL-INCLUSIVE and includes private room and bath for six nights, all meals from dinner on Monday to breakfast on Sunday, workshop materials and more.

Accommodations for special dietary needs are available. Instructions for requests will be sent after registration.

A limited number of commuter spaces are available. Hotel room costs are removed but meals are still included.

Payment plans may be available. Contact for details. 

The Breakout Novel Intensive has a limited number of seats and sells out quickly. 

Don't be disappointed, register today!

* * * * IMPORTANT * * * *
Because of costs from the hotel, a room with a view of the Columbia River will cost an additional $300, which you will find as an add-on option on the registration page.


After registration, email will be sent to to all students including instructions for submissions (synopsis, manuscript pages) to be reviewed by Don and staff prior to the workshop. There will also be additional information on one-on-one schedules, private meetings, and venue information. 

Many students find reading Don’s book, Writing the Breakout Novel, prior to the workshop helpful to familiarize themselves with the concepts and for greater retention and application.

For more information, please call 813–391–8980 or write to Lorin Oberweger, Program Director at