Monday, January 03, 2011

Back on the Blog Chain: Know Thyself

I have the privilege of starting the first Blog Chain for 2011, so let's get right to it. Here's the topic:

What do you think your strengths and weaknesses as a writer are? Did you have to develop your strengths, or did they come naturally to you? How are you trying to overcome your weaknesses?

Yes, everyone, after a festive holiday season, we have to look at the man or woman in the mirror:

Here are what I think are some of my writing strengths:

Good command of grammar--I was such a bookworm I read English textbooks as a kid, but I took a grammar class for my Master's degree. I also copy-edited for a newspaper briefly and still read grammar books on my own.
Good understanding of basic science (for writing SF)--I've studied science in school and on my own.
Can come up with interesting worldbuilding details--I get a lot of ideas from reading science and news articles.
Can create cliffhanger chapter endings--I developed this through reading novels and books on writing.

I should point out that even though I feel I do have some genetic talent for writing (I got it from my biological mother), all the things I count as strengths are ones I developed through study and practice.

And here are some of the things I feel I still need to work on:

Adding more sensory details to scenes--I admit I'm timid about adding details for fear of getting them wrong. I also tend to focus more on plot and dialogue in first drafts, so description is something I have to add to the story instead of including it from the start. I've tried some writing exercises to help me focus on description, and during NaNoWriMo, I deliberately made myself include some description. Description is much better for word count than unnecessary adverbs!
Making main characters more likable at the start of the story--To show how my characters grow over the course of the story, I sometimes make too much of their faults in the beginning. My reviewers let me know when this is a problem. I've tried to address this by showing more of my characters' emotions and motivations.
Making teenage characters sound their age, not younger--To address this, I should study more teenagers in their natural habitat, no matter how scary that is. ;)

I'm sure there are more things I need to work on, but those are the most important ones, or at least the ones that come to mind right away.

Kate will share her strengths and weaknesses with us next. What do you feel are your writing strengths and weaknesses?


Jan Markley said...

My strengths are voice of the characters I create. Weaknesses ... fatigue ... need to go to bed!

Angela said...

You're good at grammar. Honey, you are my hero! I should send my writing to you.

Eric said...

Great question, and timely (given my current mindset).

Description is much better for word count than unnecessary adverbs!

Amen! I love this!

Michelle H. said...

I agree with Eric! AMEN! We concentrate so much on word count with unnecessary adverbs we sometimes leave out important factors, such as more descriptive scenes.

Golden Eagle said...

My strengths are character voice and grammar. One of my major weaknesses is description . . .

Christine Fonseca said...

I love this questions and this post. Hmm.....what shall I talk about....

Unknown said...

Strengths- Emotion and dialogue. I am 6 for 6 making my beta readers laugh and cry. Love when I do that.

Weakness- Tendency to say the same things 20 different ways. Too many ideas and not enough focus. Worst trait I am a panster. I can’t help it.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

There's a really great line in the movie As Good as it Gets where a receptionist asks Melvin how he writes women so well. He replies, "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability." They wrote it for laughs, and I don't think it applies to women, but I DO think it applies to writing teens.

Think of someone you know. Then take away rationality, accountability, and add a helping of insecurity. Instant teen.

Cole Gibsen said...

What a fabulous question to start the new year with. I'm so jealous that grammar is one of your strengths. It seems to me like the more I study it, the more confused I get. :)

Anonymous said...

You've got some stellar strengths and I like your strategies for improvement! :D

Kathryn Hupp-Harris said...

This is a great topic. I agree. It's very difficult to get a character to "sound" the right again.

Anonymous said...

Good command of grammar is a strength I don't think I've seen yet. It's so important! And this could be the English teacher in me speaking but reading something where tenses switch unintentionally or something else is grammatically wrong, throws me off.

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