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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Q&A - Beginning Writer

I got the below message from Savannah, who graciously agreed to let me answer her questions on the blog in case some of her questions are those some of you are curious about, too

Hey Camy! I just started reading your story sensei blog, which is great! I have a few questions about your last post!


I am starting my first novel! I want to write & even though the chances for success are small you gotta chase your dreams right?!


I took a short writing course & only have basic knowledge & decided go jump in. After about 4, 0000 words I'm stumped. Like your last reader am wondering if the story is to big for me or idea is no goos BUT you say you need no special powers! When you talk about fleshing it out does that mean I may need to study the craft more before I attempt a book?

You don't need any special powers. Yes, you might need to study the craft a bit more in order to feel confident enough to continue. Or you might need to just set aside your inhibitions and JUST WRITE, even if you think what you're writing is crap. It depends on what type of writer you are. :)

If you want to learn more craft, check out my two articles, I want to write a novel and I have no clue what to do! and I've written a novel and I have no clue what to do next!

The topic of studying other writers was also brought up, how do I do that? Maybe that ties into knowing the craft as well?!

Basically, analyze any recently published novels (only about 5 years old) that you really liked. Why did you like the novel? What about the characters and/or plot did you like? Figure out what you like reading, because you'll end up writing what you like reading.

Also, if you want your book published by a certain publisher--for example, say you're targeting a Harlequin line like Love Inspired or Presents or Desire--then read the most recent books from that line in order to understand what types of characters and storylines the publisher has published. You don't want your storyline to be too far off from the types of stories the publisher publishes, but you also want it to be unique so that it's not just a copy of a story already on the shelves.

Lastly, I've been trying to come up with other possible ideas. They all seem so weak. How do I find a good idea? Being that it's my first attempt do I pick an idea & write whether i suck or not?

Yes! Just write. You'll end up writing what you like reading, which will make the writing fun for you. I wrote 4 full manuscripts before I sold my 5th manuscript, so don't feel like your first manuscript has to be a winner. Just write because you enjoy doing it and want to read these characters' stories.

I hope that helped!

Hey guys--email me if you have any questions for my Q&A series! storysensei {at] gmail [dot} com

Monday, February 07, 2011

Q&A - Borrowing plots

I got the below message from Tonya, who graciously agreed to let me answer her questions on the blog in case some of her questions are those some of you are curious about, too.

Hey Camy! I just found your story sensei blog & think it's fabulous :) I have a few writing questions for you though
I obviously want to be a novelist. I took the CHristian Writers Guild Apprenticeship & decided to start working on my first novel. I've gotten to a point where I'm simply stuck. I feel like I have an idea of what the book is in my mind but what I'm writing isn't conveying it. It makes me wonder if my idea is above my skills levels when it comes to conflict & dialogue etc.

Camy: No. A writer doesn't need some sort of advanced skill or superpower to write out the idea in her head. It could be just that you need to think it through more, mull it over, or learn some plot skills in order to fully flesh it out.

So I'm seriously considering setting it aside for a while & working on something else. Is that bad?

Camy: Not at all. Sometimes that really helps you go back to it later with fresh ideas and a stronger sense of purpose.

Ive been trying to come up with another idea & haven't really zoned in on anything. I've started to wonder about trying to recycle or build off a classic possibly. My struggle here is that I've never read a classic. I've seen your list about chick lit (my fave) on amazon & was wondering if you could guide to me to some good classics that aren't overdone in remakes?

Camy: Rather than me telling you an idea for you to write (or a classic for you to read), think about books you've read that you really liked, and use that as a jumping off point. Obviously, don't copy the author's words because that's illegal, but take the core story idea and think about how you want to alter it or give it your own spin.

I know a lot of people like Jane Austen. I'm considering that bit aren't tons of things similar to P&P? Has it gotten cliche?

Camy: It depends on how you do it. Clueless was a really original take on Emma.

One thing I'm wondering about is taking a story like Emma (only read the synopsis on amazon. Oh & watched Clueless) & had it set in 2011 BUT from the perspective of the friend being made over & set up.   Is that the type of thing borrowed plots are like? Is that a good take?

Camy: Again, it depends on how you do it. My suggestion is to write something you really want to read yourself. So if you didn't care much for Jane Austen, you shouldn't use her novels as a jumping off point for your own ideas. Instead, pick a book or movie you really, really enjoyed.

I'd love to hear you thoughts!
Thanks so much -- loved the sushi series!

Camy: Thanks a bunch! I'm so glad!
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