Molly Cluff | Frequently Asked Writing Questions
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Frequently Asked Writing Questions

Can we be critique partners?

This depends—I adore basking in the fellowship of other talented writers. I also have two very amazing writing buddies (Sara Butler and Mckelle George) who keep me pretty busy with beta-reads. I would, however, be up for swapping beta-reads of complete manuscripts with experienced writers who write in a similar genre (contemporary or light-speculative YA).

When did you start wanting to be a writer?

In first grade, we had to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. Everyone else in the class was putting “painter,” so I thought I’d shake things up and be a writer. You can probably thank my mother—who read to me every night—for that. Bless her.

I went on to win several awards in my high school’s publication for a short story I wrote told from the point of view of an antique couch. It was then I knew I was hooked.

Who is your favorite author?

I always feel like this question is a trap, like if I answer with someone you’ve never heard of someone who isn’t your favorite, you’ll sneer at me in disdain. As far as classic writers go, I’d probably have to go with Emily Brontë and Shakespeare. With contemporary writers, my favorites include Rainbow Rowell and Maggie Stiefvater. You can see lots of my other book recommendations here.

What advice would you give to fellow/aspiring writers?
  • Get on Twitter. Agents and editors post their criteria for manuscripts and give very useful commentary. This is great for getting a feel of the market.
  • Find good critique partners, and get in a writing group. I had an English teacher once tell me that you “can’t write in a vacuum.” This means you can’t write your best work in solitude. Collaborate with fellow writers who share your passion.
  • Discuss books with everyone. I’m assuming you’re a reader if you want to be a writer (those kinda go hand in hand). Talk to your sister, your friends, your spouse, your co-workers, everyone about what you loved and didn’t love about popular books. This helps you evaluate which writing elements you embrace and which you think are lame, helping you develop your own voice.
Where did you find your critique partners?

I met Mckelle and Sara in a novel writing class at BYU. I thought Mckelle was scary and Sara didn’t write anything close to my genre. Then, we kept having classes together, and I realized they were actually quite lovely people with lovely stories to tell. Most importantly, they were both as driven as I was towards writing their best work with publication in mind.

We even went and explored England and Scotland together, visiting homes of our favorite classic authors. This included stopping at the pub where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis attended their “Inklings” meetings in Oxford. We buy into the delusion that we’re the reincarnated Inklings. Think what you will about that.

What is your writing history like?

Oh heavens, I’ve always been writing. In junior high and highschool, I wrote a 400 page fantasy novel and a fairy-tale retelling. I shied away from fantasy to contemporary fiction eventually though, realizing that I was tired of hiding in all these made-up worlds rather than appreciating all the cool things about my own (no offense to fantasy—I still love to read it! I just don’t write it much anymore). I dabbled a bit in short stories before setting off writing House of Murals, followed by Secret Booktuber.