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Monday, August 24, 2009

Writing Weaknesses: Do You Know Yours?

Nobody is perfect. That's one of those golden rules when it comes to personalities and professions. Everyone makes mistakes, sometimes trivial and sometimes terrible. As a writer, it can be difficult to see where your weaknesses are. Anyone who writes is intimately connected to his or her work, and maintaining separation can sometimes be nearly impossible. Few, if any, writers get it right on the first draft, and those that do are flukes rather than logical exceptions. The rest of us--call us "normies," if you will--have to learn from our mistakes and try to see where we are weak in order to improve our craft.

But do you know your weaknesses? If so, how do you approach resolving them? Do you take care of it after the first draft, or do you try to fix the issue as it is happening?

Personally, I have issues with characterization. Often I place too much focus on the ideas and not enough on establishing a connection to the character (for the reader). I know I do this every single time, and my problem seems to be that when I try to fix it as it occurs, my characterization feels forced or I simply lose interest. I'm working on resolving this, because I want my stories to have more impact for readers beyond the "gosh wow" effect.

I have other weaknesses, but right now that seems to be the primary and most pressing one. I'm not sure how to fix it at this point. A lot of the exercises I've found for creating better characters seem to require you to think up useless facts about your characters. I prefer not to think of my characters as bundles of uselessness. They have purposes, desires, interests, etc., and I prefer fiction that highlights those things that are important to the story as a whole. Maybe that's my problem.

Knowing your weaknesses is important, though, because acknowledging where you need to work the most can help drive you forward as a writer, even if that movement is one plodding, sluggish step at a time.

What are your weaknesses and how do you deal with them? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. I'd say diving in and begining to write before doing an adequate amount of plotting. This leads to having to stop writing and finally do the plotting I'd put off which can then lead to rewriting lots of what I've done...or scrapping it.

    I can sometimes fall asleep right when the creative juices are flowing the most!

  2. I tend to focus on character, so I don't always develop the plot stuff as well as I could. I've started using a new outlining process, though, and that's helped me pinpoint where the story goes off kilter.

  3. Caine: That's certainly one way to do it :P.

    Memory: Care to describe your process?