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


  1. Thanks for more great tips, Camy! I'm looking forward to reading Dwight Swain's book.

  2. Excellent post. I'm passing it on to my nephew who's just started his first novel. Thanks Camy.

  3. You're welcome, Joylene! I hope your nephew finds it useful!


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