Writing Books/topic


"Hi, I feel kind of embarrassed as I write this. See, I am a 10 year old, but I do want to start writing a story. I think I am pretty good at it I have written award winning stories. There is just one problem, I don't know where to start. I don't have a topic to start off with. I feel that the more I read stories the  smaller my opportunities as a young author are. I guess if you helped me, I could get passed that hard part and you know start writing. I just need a little push.

Hi, Eileen!

First, congratulations for writing stories that have won awards. That's terrific! I think most authors have a difficult time deciding where to start a story. A lot of times there's so much to imagine that picking just ONE spot seems impossible. The trick to writing a good short story is to think of it as a single moment in time. It's sort of like the big wheel on Wheel of Fortune on TV. There are lots of individual slices to the wheel, and each one MIGHT be a winner, or a loser. Sometimes where the wheel stops in your head is luck, but if you spin it often enough, you get better at deciding where to stop it.

Sometimes it helps to imagine a character FIRST, before the topic. Build a world around them. For example, next time you go to a fast food place and eat in the dining room, look around. Choose a random person and try to imagine what sort of life they live from what they're wearing. Is a man in a suit a lawyer on his way to court? Is that kid with long hair and cutoffs with a skateboard leaning against the wall just a normal kid, or is he actually the latest X-Games star like Tony Hawk? Then imagine where they're going after they eat their hamburger (or salad, or whatever). Are they worried about something? Happy? If so, why?

That's your start point--walking out the door of the restaurant on the way to the next moment in their life. The story might be romantic, or they might get hit by a bus as they step into the parking lot. Maybe the door opens and they EXPECT to see their car, but they wind up on another world instead. There's lots of places to go and just a humdrum event like eating is suddenly a brand new thing.

With a short story, you need to wrap it up quickly, so pick something that really grabs and then figure out a way to resolve it quickly. Don't worry about tomorrow or next year in the person's life. What happens by dinnertime or by the time they go to bed? Short and snappy will keep the reader turning the page.

I wouldn't worry about there being no more stories to tell. Remember that pretty much EVERY story has been told. But nobody has YOUR brain. Nobody else in the world can imagine what you can, so there's always room on the shelf for the "same old" story told in a brand new way. :)

Hope that helps a little, and good luck! Feel free to ask any other questions that come up. :)


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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