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Writing Books/Biggest Critic


Hey, first off thanks for taking the time to read this and help me. I'm very grateful.
I've been a writer for all my life (been writing stories ever since I was little, albeit it they weren't all that good) and I've finished a few stories, but lately I've been noticing that I can never finish a novel. I've written several short stories, and those are fine, but whenever I try to start a novel
(which I have several times), it seems like I can't finish it, get disinterested, or get another idea for some other story and try to start that. Maybe this come from me being my biggest critic. Whenever I write, I never feel like its good enough. I second guess myself and am never satisfied. People tell me my writing is good, but there's times I think its absolutely horrible, and I'm terrified what other people and one day, God willing, publishers and agents will think.
So, I guess my question is: 1.What do you suggest to help me actually stay focused and finish a novel (and is this a typical problem?):
And: 2.Is being a harsh critic of myself normal? Should I try to fix it? What can I do?

Thanks a ton,
it is greatly appreciated.

Hi, Cory!

First, are you POSITIVE you're a novelist? Not everybody who writes is. Some authors  have had entire careers with short stories and novellas. (H.P. Lovecraft is one) People seem to think shorts are an entrance to novels, but that's not so. Many novelists I know CAN'T write a short. They're completely unable because their mind doesn't work that way.

Still, if you're determined to write a novel, it might be you're a "pantser" versus a "plotter." Are you trying to plot out the book and that's where you get stalled and disinterested? That's a VERY common scenario with pantsers (writing by the "seat of your pants" and having no idea where that day's writing will take you.)

Yeah, we're all our own biggest critic. ALL of us! LOL! What might help is to find a friend who's willing to send in the queries and stories and simply not tell you about rejections. I did this for my co-author before we "became" co-authors. Sort of a business manager. I only gave her the good news so it didn't dishearten her when enevitable rejections arrived. Pretty soon there were ONLY acceptances, and then the occasional rejection didn't bother her.

Hope that helps. Good luck!


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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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