Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, April 04, 2019

IWSG: About Blushes and Beginnings

At first blush, this month's question from the Internet Writer's Support Group looks far too easy. If I could somehow magically write [not perfect, but very good], just one scene or chapter for my current wip, which one would it be?

The first chapter.

See? Easy. But my current writing project, The Seventh Tapestry (a contemporary romantic suspense about a lost 16th Century tapestry) has me jumping into a new genre (romantic suspense), and writing from a first person point of view (also new). Here are some strategies I've been using for the last year:
  • Read lots of romantic suspense. Ken Follett is always my favorite, but Amazon's LOOK INSIDE feature allows me to study that opening chapter without overspending my book budget.
  • Research and study what makes a good romantic suspense tale. To start, I've used that trusty Google search: tips for writing romantic suspense. Print out what's useful and take notes. Ditto for writing from first person pov and strategies for writing in general, including that first chapter.
  • Draft.  Apparently the suspense plotline must be carefully (and logically) drawn -- and romantic suspense has TWO plot lines, one for romance and one for suspense. Of course, they have to meld. If you already outline first and draft those character back stories, your drafting process works more smoothly (or so they say). But I'm an intuitive writer, jumping around as the story moves me. I'd like to be more efficient . . . but that shoe doesn't fit.
  • Critiques of work in progress. I'm very grateful for feedback from my F2F writing partner as we meet weekly most weeks. The online resource that consistently  helps me strengthen my story and my writing is the NOVELS-L group of The Internet Writing Workshop. For every chapter I submit to NOVELS-L, I need to critique 2 subs from other writers. Critiques of other writers helps me see my own work a little differently. The real gold, though, is in those critiques I receive -- at every level of analyzing my chapter from writers who take the whole process seriously.
Just now, I'm submitting first draft chapters to NOVELS-L while I finish the last chapters of the whole story. The coming year promises deep revision, but I love the story, and I'm ready to go to work. First chapter? I don't need any magic. In fact, all I need is the tenacity, insight, and, hopefully, the creativity that we all bring to our writing.

Can't wait to see what others have written about that first chapter!

With special thanks to readers and writing friends far and near, online or not,
who encourage each of us -- including the wonderful co-hosts for the April 3 posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG): J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken!

IWSG's April 3 Question: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene, first kiss scene, death scene, chase scene, first chapter, middle chapter, end chapter, etc.)

Kate Weiland's blog


  1. You put so much work in your writing and your novels, Beth. All the research based on the writing and the topic, plus exchanging critiques, writing many drafts and doing so much editing. Wow! Maybe it’s different with non-fiction, but all I’m doing with my memoir is writing, taking suggestions of beta readers into account, and editing/rewriting everything a few times. That will have to do! :-)

    I wouldn’t use the wish for any chapters either, but to help me find an agent/publisher!

    1. That last line made me laugh, Liesbet. I hope you do find that agent/publisher. I think writing a memoir would be very difficult, for how much do we wish to reveal of ourselves? Your adventures sailing, though, are intriguing. Thank you for stopping by(as always)! May your writing go well.

  2. Your story,The Seventh Tapestry, that is about a lost 16th century tapestry is one I'd be interested in reading. I loved your idea of using the "Look Inside" to study the first chapters of successful books. Great tip.

    1. Thank you, Lee, for stopping by. Most likely, I'll need another year before the revision stage is complete . . . but we'll persevere!

  3. Great idea about using "look inside" to study first chapters without breaking your book budget. Thanks for coming by to visit my blog as well! @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  4. I do read a fair number of first chapters before buying books, and they teach me a lot about what I need to do for my first chapters!

    All the best with your writing journey.

  5. 2nd First Chapter answer I've seen so far. I'm sure there will be more! I wish I'd said it myself haha. The first chapter can definitely be the hardest! (Thanks for stopping by!)

  6. I love romantic suspense. The first romance novel I ever wrote, one long forgotten (from my high school days, actually!), was a romantic suspense. Your novel sounds amazing. Touches of Nora Roberts, perhaps? I can't wait to read it. Good luck! :)

  7. Hi,
    I am laughing because I have to watch overspending my amazon book budget too. Happy to hear you've wandered over into Romantic Suspense. I love that genre.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange