When Writers Ask the Wrong Questions

I’m on several writer’s forums. There are questions that pop up over and over again. Sometimes it’s great to see someone new come in and ask a question that was asked two months ago because a lot might have changed. But sometimes you just want to ask, Did you do more than join and post your question, because 2 pages back there’s an amazing answer to that.

But hey, we all get excited and do that.

Then, there are just the wrong questions. I’m seeing it a lot. I’m seeing it more than a lot. I’ll estimate I see it almost every day. I’d say the majority of the time it has to do with YA or Romance (maybe SFF has their own problems somewhere else) but it goes something like this:

Can you have sex in a YA? OR Can you curse in a YA? OR Do you have to have parents in a YA?

Or maybe, Do you have to have a happy ending in a Romance? OR Can the H/h cheat in a Romance? OR How soon do the H/h have to meet in a Romance?

If you’re new to the genre, these are valid questions. That’s not the problem. The problem is what these questions show us about you as a writer. What these basic level questions tell me is that you want to dive in and write in a genre that you don’t read and you haven’t researched. It always makes me wonder if you’re chasing the money.

I honestly don’t believe asking others basic questions is research. That’s the equivalent of Cliff Notes…but with a chance they’re wrong.

Because, just like that writer didn’t do her research, now she’s trusting unvetted sources.

I’m going to be honest, I’ve watched people have STRONG opinions about YA because they have kids. I’ve watched people have STRONG opinions about Romance because they watch Rom Com movies.

Those are not qualifications.

So, you’re asking, Caitie, what’s the right questions then?

Easy: Can you tell me some of the best books in this genre? How about one or two you think are the worst? Can you also tell me why you picked those books.

Then, once you have your homework, go read. Trust me, if you don’t enjoy reading in the genre, you’re in the wrong place. Granted, you aren’t going to love everyone’s “best examples” but you’ll understand the genre better (and how/where you want to be in it.)

And that’s really the first step to being a great writer. Being a great reader.



  1. I feel like writing YA because you have kids would produce a terrible book. Kids don’t want more lessons from a parent. They want books that are unafraid to talk about the things they’re thinking. Imagine how censored YA would be.

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