Story Sensei Question and Answer

Hey guys,
It occurred to me that you guys might have specific writing craft or writing business questions that I could answer for you. So, comment and leave your question, and I'll address the questions in posts on this blog throughout the month of July!


  1. Oh, this is great. Thanks for opening it up, Camy! Here are a couple of my questions.

    - Do you have any market research tips (i.e., What are some of the ways you check to see if your story has been done before or what books might be similar to your idea)?

    - I've got a series idea that would follow a family with three daughters and a basic storyline for each. I'm a plotter and planner, so I'm wondering if you recommend planning out all three or four stories at once so they're intertwined? Do you have any other tips on how to approach a series?


  2. How much liberty are we allowed in creating a new place in our settings? I have a 3rd book of a series set in a town in California. My opening scene takes place in a park, but I can't find a park in the town that's like the one in my head. Can I make one up entirely or can I use an existing park and "plant" some trees or a place for an outdoor concert?

  3. Hi Camy, here's my question:

    Somewhere in a judges' comment or a 'how to' book I grasped an idea that I thought would improve my work.

    reaction, emotion, dialogue

    meaning to me that when something happens or someone speaks, our character has a reaction that prompts an emotion and then they speak. (This done with the idea that these 'things' are part of the conflict).

    Problem is, that by doing this, I now have been told that I'm burying my dialogue, because some have been at the end of a sentence or two of 'reaction and emotion'.

    However, popping that dialogue to the front of the paragraph doesn't seem to make sense.

    I feel like I latch on to these rules, thinking I'm doing the right thing and then . . .

  4. Hi, Camy,
    thanks for this opportunity. You are one of my favorite writing teachers. Your last article on showing versus telling raised a question for me. When is it okay to break the rules? Not just for telling, but for say, using an unusual tag in dialogue. "Come here," he said. versus "Come here," he demanded. (I realize beats are the most effective. ie He stomped his foot and clapped his hands at the dog. "Come here!")Anyway, can we sometimes use an unusual tag?
    Thanks in advance.

  5. Hi Camy - I'm working on a substantive edit and I'm looking for ways to deepen a character, give her more dimension. What are some ways to bring out more of a character's strengths and weaknesses, give the reader more of a reason to root for her?


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