Writing Q&A: The Anatomy of Books

Sorry I’ve been kind of absent lately. I’ve been working hard on a new story. Book number #3 is in the works! This is what it looked like when I started:


Needless to say, those pages didn’t stay blank for long! It’s very exciting to be working on something new, and I’m hoping to finish it this summer! For those of you who are asking, my second book is coming out in December 2012. The book I’m working on currently will probably be released in the spring of 2014. That’s the plan right now, at least! 🙂

Here’s the next round of Writing Q&A! As I’ve mentioned a thousand times before, if you have any questions, post them in the comment section! I love answering questions!

  • How do you know your work is worth being published, or even showing someone?

This is a tricky question. As a writer, I can always see my flaws. They are constantly staring me in the face, reminding me of all of my shortcomings. At times, I write through a first draft, then go back and look at it with my face in my hands, wondering why on earth anyone ever signed me as an author. Because it can honestly be that bad. At first.

That’s where it gets tricky. Because what can seem like bad writing initially can actually be really spectacular writing once it’s cleaned up. Sometimes all it takes is a little editing to make something mediocre into something publishable. The problem is that too few writers are willing to do that extra work to make their writing really shine. Or else they don’t think they’re capable of it.

The number one advice I would give to someone in that situation is to never doubt yourself just because you realize your writing is flawed. Every author sees the mistakes in their own writing! That is absolutely normal. What you need to do is just trust your instincts and the opinions of those around you. If your friends tell you that your writing is great, why doubt them? And remember that if you like what you like, someone else is bound to, too!

  • What essentials should a good novel include?

I thought this was a really fun question to answer! And difficult, because everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes a “good novel” (and I’ll talk more about that in a minute). Obviously, a mystery novel is going to have different elements than a romance novel, and so on and so forth. But there are a few essentials that I include in all my novels, if you wanted to borrow a few ideas!

The first thing I always try to include is a strong protagonist. It’s hard for readers to connect to a character that is lazy, unmotivated, and scared of everything. Flaws are good. Flaws are relatable. But a character with no backbone at all is just B-O-R-I-N-G. Just sayin’.

So I always try to create a character with a little spunk. A little courage. Even when she’s afraid of something, she finds the courage to face it anyway. She’s not afraid to dream big. To chase after what she really wants. Those are the types of main characters I try to create. Girls (usually) that others can relate to and feel sorry for occasionally, but also cheer on and root for.

Another “essential” I try to include in my books is one kind of kooky character. A good way to keep a sadder or more sentimental story line from seeming dull is to throw something lively into the equation. I like to think of Irene from “Interrupted” as a good kooky character. She’s upbeat, quirky, and brings humor to just about every scene she’s in. I love creating characters like that. No author should underestimate the power of humor.

I also think that every book should include a great “best friend”. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, there should always be at least one person rooting for your main character. Someone who will be there to help your main character when he falls. Sam was a good best friend for Allie. No matter how many times she was rude or bratty to him, he was still there for her because he knew that deep down, she was a good person. Charlie was like that, too. Having the love of her friends helped Allie to open her own heart to love. It really furthered her story.

So those are three essentials I would include in a good novel: strong protagonists, humorous characters, and good best friends.

  • What makes a book great? What makes it a “classic”?

In my opinion, a book is a classic if it has a story that still resounds ten, twenty, fifty, or three hundred years after it was written. If the characters still seem “real”. If the humor is still fresh. If the romance is still sweet. If the morals are still enduring. A book is a classic if it is still relatable years after it is written, and if people still want to read it. There are many classics that I have read in my relatively short lifetime, and I know that there are so many others that I have yet to discover. But it is always my goal and dream to create books that will endure and resonate with young people just as powerfully as those did with me.



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  1. * Emily says:

    I’ve got one question, though I doubt it should be placed in the Q&A catagory… when will you be able to show us the cover to your new novel and tell us about it? 😀 I’m really eager to see it!

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
    • * RachelC says:

      Oh, believe me, Emily–no one is more excited about sharing the cover and title of Book #2 than me!!!! I’ve been bugging my editor at Zondervan to give me a file of the cover art for weeks! I’ve seen the pdf myself and I love it, but I can’t share until I get an actual file. Hopefully she’ll give me the okay to share soon! 🙂

      | Reply Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
      • * Emily says:

        Yay! 🙂 I’ll be waiting to see!! 😉

        Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
  2. * Laura says:

    This is my favorite Q&A yet! Great questions and thoughtful answers. So excited about book #2 (and #3…is it too early to be excited about that yet?) Thanks for another awesome post 🙂

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
    • * RachelC says:

      Yay! I’m so glad you liked it! I’m excited about Book #2 as well! Can’t wait to share more details… And I really hope that the third book lives up to everyone’s excitement. 🙂

      | Reply Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
  3. * Emily Ann says:

    Love this! One question I have is, how long do you wait to edit your book? I know some authors put their story away for a certain length of time before revising. What’s your routine?

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
  4. * Emily says:

    I’ve also got another question: what’s a good way to giving a book a title that’s not only eyecatching, but goes along well with the storyline? Thanks! 🙂

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
  5. * Emily says:

    Alright, I have another questions now (sorry!). 😉 Do you use an outline while you are writing a book, or do you just go where the story and characters take you? Thanks again! 🙂

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 9 months ago

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