Friday, May 13, 2011

Recognize your weaknesses

Cross-posted from Write Club.


Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. Some excel at characterization, others are good at building suspense or crafting exciting action scenes. Some writers might be good at suspense and atmosphere, but have to work hard to forge a connection to their characters so that the reader can then feel a similar connection. You have to learn to recognize what you're good at and what you need to work on, and getting published doesn't mean you've mastered everything. There is always room for improvement.

At this point, I'm honestly not sure what exactly I'm good at, but I do know what I need to keep working to improve. Setting is something I have trouble with. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I never feel a particularly strong connection to places, having grown up on the move and never living anywhere for more than two and half years. I've been in the town where I live for many years now but it's still just "the town where I live" and not home. Trying to create a sense of place in my fiction is always a struggle for me. Every place has its unique features but all the moving I did growing up also taught me that there is a surprising amount of uniformity everywhere you go.

Another thing I have to keep working on is balance. I want my books to be a mix of different things: paranormal, humor, action, romance. If I find myself having trouble with one of those elements, I've noticed that I tend to over-compensate and use a lot of that element. For instance in my current work in progress Red House I started out having a lot of trouble with the romance part of the story. Now it's trying to take over. Recognizing this issue will help me fix it in revisions so that the story elements are balanced.

That's really important to becoming a better writer - recognizing your weaknesses so that you can work on them. What are some of your weaknesses?

2 comments:

  1. Great post, and a good thing to remember that even once we're published, there's still going to be room to grow.

    I appreciate your honesty in exposing where you need to focus. For myself, it's deepening characters. With reading books on the craft, and by continuing to write, I know this area has improved significantly. But it's still something I'm really conscious of.

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  2. It's easier for me to see the problem areas than figure out what I'm good at, but I figure its probably that way with most writers.

    Characterization is probably the hardest thing. You have to keep your head in that character's head - sometimes for a long time. That can be tough. And exhausting, depending on the character. That's my experience, anyway.

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