Writing the Breakout Novel

I recently read Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, along with its companion workbook. I actually liked the workbook better. It had a lot of good exercises, although be warned: they're not easy.

Basically what really appeals to me about this book is its incredibly high standards. Your character must be not just good, but heroic. And not just any old time either, but in the first scene. I like that. This book is not about writing half-assed fiction. It's about holding yourself to the gold standard, and really pushing for everything you can give.