Announcing our new concept: a fiction lab designed to bring a novel from idea to finished and revised draft in two years. 

A one-of-a-kind opportunity to work closely with two industry pros who have helped thousands of writers achieve publishing success.

Donald Maass and Lorin Oberweger invite you to apply to work directly with them during a two-year workshop designed to bring your novel from idea to finished and revised draft, with a view toward big five publication.

Twelve writers (selected by application) will meet for four structured, in-person residencies meant to guide students through the process of novel creation and to elevate student work to new levels of excellence.

Each residency will deal with important milestones in novel creation, from generating a rich premise and highly developed characters with built-in conflict to creating a solid and tension-filled middle act, to deep revision techniques that will make your novel soar and will serve you through your entire writing career.

Between residencies, Don, Lorin, and the group will participate in monthly online check-ins, challenges, feedback, and encouragement. Participants will be supported and held accountable for making real progress, while also receiving guidance in making the best choices for your book.

If you've wished for top notch craft education, ongoing personal attention, and "over your shoulder" support all the way through a project, please read the detailed breakdown below. 


You’re a midlist author, looking for breakout level success.

You’re at that tough “almost there” stage. Perhaps you have agency representation or you’re receiving encouraging rejections. You’re at the precipice of success but don’t know how to clear the last hurdles.  

You’re a great writer but know that with a collaborative support system, substantive feedback, and ongoing mentorship, you can be pushed to greater heights.

You’ve studied with Don and Lorin before and know they can help you achieve the result you desire—a completed novel, beautifully rendered.

This is an intimate experience, and spaces are limited, so apply today!




Residency 1: Premise

Story ideas will be brainstormed and shaped, focusing on concept strength, inherent conflict, character complexity, world development, story purpose and more.  Genre issues will be raised and breakout challenges set.  A roadmap, either outline or markers, will be set in place.  Non-plot goals will also be set.


At-Home Session 1

In the following eight months, outlines and early pages will be offered online (on the dedicated lab forum) for feedback by Lorin, Don and the group, with a focus on establishing narrative voice, opening moment, character strength, emotional appeal, planted intrigue, world fascination, and the moving parts of the story engine.  Monthly assignments will be given. The goal will be to reach the 100-page mark, together with outline or a working agenda for completion.


Residency 2: Outline & 100 Pages

Our focus will be on an in-depth examination of opening chapters, with on-site revision and alternate takes with the goal of creating irresistible starts.  Story promises, inciting incidents, escalation, character’s inner needs, set ups for later payoff, secondary character development, withholding and surprises, theme complexity and more will be examined, providing groundwork that will feed the manuscript throughout the remainder of drafting.


At-Home Session 2

In the following eight months, first drafts are completed with monthly feedback on trouble spot pages with attention to inner and outer narrative momentum.  A scene challenge will be set for each student, an experiment in alternate approach and reversal of reader expectations.  The goal at this stage is to expand the novel’s potential and exploit its hidden strengths.


Residency 3: Revised Manuscript Planning

Issues and areas for revision are set.  Comp titles will be discussed and self-imposed limitations lifted.  With Lorin and Don, the group will assess the state of each project and identify its unused potential.  By weekend’s end, each participant will have completed manuscript goals in place and solid guidelines for effective revision.


At-Home Session 3 

In the following eight months, first drafts are revised with monthly spot-check feedback online from Lorin, Don and the group. In that time, students will be expected to complete a solid second draft of their work.


Residency 4: Revised Manuscript Evaluation

Self-evaluation tools are introduced.  Don, Lorin and the group will offer responses to major scenes: openings, mirror, climax and randomly chosen middle scenes.  Pitches are constructed and tested.  Marketing resources are introduced, and submission plans created.   

At the lab’s conclusion, finished manuscripts are circulated and certificates issued.  From cocktail napkin to revised manuscript, the lab is now complete!



May 31 – June 3, 2018

Session 1:

January 31 - February 3, 2019

Session 2:

October 3 - October 6, 2019

Session 3:

June 4 - June 7, 2020

Session 4:



Please complete the application and paste up to ten pages from any fiction writing sample of your choice into the appropriate field. Separate paragraphs with a space and use *asterisks* or _underscores_ to denote italics.

Deadline for applying: Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Participants and Wait-listed writers will be notified by November 19th, 2017

Deposits due by: December 3, 2017.


Total of $12,500 includes residency accommodations and meals, all class time and feedback, workshop materials, and more, for entire twenty-four month program.

First payment of $2500 is due upon acceptance. Four remaining payments of $2,500 will be due: May 4th, 2018; January 10th, 2019; September 12, 2019; and May 7, 2020.



To be announced.


* * * * IMPORTANT * * * *

Please note: Participation in the Breakout Novel Lab does not constitute, and is not a prerequisite for, submission to Donald Maass Literary Agency or to Adams Literary.  Writers are invited to query at any time, and their submissions will be given full consideration, regardless of participation in this program (or lack thereof).  Query guidelines can be found here (DMLA) and here (Adams Literary).