Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

August IWSG: On Writing and Curiosity

August begins with hot days and here in the Pacific Northwest, a lot of smoke. Yesterday, our Air Quality Index was 181, pretty much unhealthy for everyone. That means more staying inside, wearing those masks everywhere, and doing the daily walk at a nearby mall or Rite-Aid!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group challenges writers to participate with a blog post on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG's purpose? To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Why not join in? Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

August 4 question: What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it, you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

Consider taking a look at Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. Her comprehensive, analytical discussion of style, craft, and characterization consistently invites me to improve my editing skills. I especially admire her ability to teach WITHOUT using 'should' and 'don't'. Instead, clear writing goals and specific examples lead my way deeper into revision. Yes, I have a shelf of other how-to-improve-your-writing books, but Lyon is truly my first choice.

Writer's Digest, though obviously not a book, is my other favorite resource that sparks my thinking about writing. For example, the May/June 2021 issue focuses on curiosity. 

Which led me to ask: How does curiosity shape my writing?

Immediately, I'm kicked back in time to that moment about ten years ago when DH and I visited historic Fort Vancouver near the Columbia River. We passed a sign in an empty field: "Native Americans and Hawaiians once worked here." The small, out-of-the-way sign inspired me to write about the McDonnell family in the mid-19th Century, and led to now four books in the series! Well, three and one at beta reader stage. And that need for research led us to meandering trips through Canada, Scotland, and Egypt. With a still untold story about Jamie McDonnell at ten, who signed onto a clipper trading ship headed for China, again in the 1840s. Maybe another trip, post-pandemic?

Writing Update: For those who are drawn into writing challenges and like to track word counts, yes, I did complete July's Camp Nanowrimo at 14,000 new words, just a thousand short of my goal. Along the way, my latest project, a second art crime mystery, The Missing Sarcophagus, set in Egypt, is taking shape.  

Can I really work on drafting one project while finishing edits on another? I'm not sure, but I'm having fun along the way.

Now, why not visit the hard-working and generous co-hosts for IWSG's August post: PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox!  And leave an encouraging comment!

Happy writing ahead!


  1. I hadn't heard of Manuscript Makeover. Thanks for the suggestion Beth.

    1. And thank you for stopping by. Looking forward to reading what everyone is up to this month.

  2. Hi Beth,
    Reading your very convincing statement on Manuscript Makeover, I decided to go to Amazon and put it on my wish list, to find out that I bought the book in 2013! :-) I just haven't read it. Now I will.
    Thanks for the tip. I never would have known that I have the book already.
    Take care and all the best.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    1. Hello, Pat. Your comment made me smile because when I checked my bookcase, I had 2 copies of Manuscript Makeover!!!! One's now set aside for my writing group. Best of writing to you.

  3. I hadn't heard of Manuscript Makeover either. Sorry you're experiencing such bad air due to the fires and heat.

  4. Curiosity - yeah. That's what starts so many of my stories too.

  5. Your travel adventures sound amazing! I love doing research like that. I'm heading over to check out the manuscript makeover... thanks!!

  6. Nicely done on your Camp project! And it's great to hear that your art crime mystery is taking shape. I love it when my projects start to do that.

  7. I have not heard of that book either. You always inspire! Thank You!

  8. I enjoy Writer's Digest, and I bet I'll enjoy reading Manuscript Makeover as well. Thanks for the tip! Sometimes I'm too curious for my own good, but it does inspire.
    Happy writing!

  9. I haven't heard of Lyon or her book, but it sounds like one to check out!

  10. Hey Beth! Manuscript Makeover. Yes! A great self-editing book written with style and panache. One of my stellar go-tos.

  11. Sounds like another good one to check out. Thanks for popping by my blog, too! @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act