I’m unashamedly, yet sneakily, stealing this topic from Teens Can Write Too. They host a monthly blog chain for teen writers. Of which I was one until recently. And now I’m not so they ABANDONED ME TO ADULTHOOD. How cruel, right? I cried a bit, to be honest. I think I shed 3.5 tears and it was painful to behold.*
Last month their prompt was “writing strengths and weaknesses” and I thought, “BUT I WANT TO DO THAT.” So I am. I’m pulling the World Ruler card and doing what I want with no regrets!** HUZZAH.
* TCWT are all actually really nice people and you should go hang out with them if you’re a teen.
** I got asked yesterday if I had “the day off school”, so I’m guessing my baby face could still sneak me around as a teen. Let’s pretend together, shall we? I think I have Peter Pan Syndrome anyway.
We’ll start off all negative since I’m sure you nosey urchins want to know where your World Ruler fails. This list is basically all lies because I don’t really fail at anything. Pfft. Of course not. Weaknesses are for mortals.
- I’M USELESS AT INVENTING NEW CHARACTERS. Seriously, this bothers me. I’ll come up with a million plots and worlds and histories and cultures…but people?! GEE. My little brain overheats like a windows computer and — BOOM — I end up smoking out of my ears.
- I CANNOT WRITE CONSISTENTLY. I just can’t! I tried once and burnt myself out so badly I didn’t write for the rest of the year. It’s exhausting attempting to write everyday. Although my method of binge-writing is also so exhausting. I often put off even starting books because I know the sheer amount of hours I’ll put in just to finish a draft in, like, 7 days. Ugh. Either method? I can’t win.
- I DON’T DESCRIBE. ANYTHING. This can be a problem. Sure, sparse description is my cup o’ tea, but readers usually like to at least know what the characters look like, right?! NOT IN MY BOOKS. I often wonder if this is because I personally don’t pay attention to what humans look like, aka, my books miss out, too. This is something I need to work on! Especially for scenery and new worlds, too! Yes, I’ll always like just a sniff of description and heavy dialogue…but I gotta improve this.
- I RUSH MY ENDINGS. As a reader, I actually like open endings or everybody dying. But, well. There should be a little balance. I can’t kill everyone ALL the time. I think. I also tend to end books without any “aftermath” chapters. So this could indicate my pacing is off.
- I MISUSE WORDS ALL THE TIME. You’d think, as a writer, I’d be awesome at grammar, right?! WRONG. I usually forget the difference between “than” and “then”. I can’t spell for pomegranates. My sentence structure would make a grammarian roll in their grave. OH. And I constantly leave words out of sentences to which my betas sit there saying, “BUT CAIT, WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU EVEN SAYING? IS ENGLISH YOUR FIRST LANGUAGE???” Maybe it’s not. Maybe Overlordian is my true language and there are no rules when one speaks Overlordian.
Of course I have so many strengths that this post could be TEN KILOMETRES LONG. But I’ll spare you. I’ll just list the basics and you can thank your royal majesty (me) later.
- I’M FREAKISHLY FANTASTIC AT WITTY DIALOGUE. Although this is a bit of a spiky rose bush, because I can’t write witty dialogue if I overthink it. I CAN’T. I have so many un-funny abandoned drafts, it’s mortifying. If I ever die unexpectedly, the minions have been told to burn all my old books least someone find them and laugh and laugh and laugh. AHEM. But I digress. I’m quite funny when I write most of the time. Honest.
- I HAVE MADE MANY READERS CRY. Okay. I’ve made, maybe, 3 of them cry. I also only have 3 readers. BUT SHH. Let’s not let details get in the way of a good story! Let’s just assume EVERYONE who reads my books ends up crying. Sobbing, actually. Begging me for mercy. Your emotions are in my control. Mwhaha hahaha…. Ahem.
- I DON’T SPARE MY CHARACTERS. You know happy endings? Bah. Suspicious little monsters. I like realistic endings and plenty of mortalities. And no mater how much I really really like a character…I will kill my darlings. Speaking of killing darlings…
- I KNOW HOW TO EDIT LIKE A GIRAFFE EATING AN ACACIA TREE. Okay, that doesn’t even make sense. But stay with me now. I’m a really brutal editor. I don’t let scenes get by without hacking them down. I don’t let useless or “pretty” words skulk across my page. BURN THEM ALL. (It can be scary to be around me when I’m editing, to be honest.) Minimalistic writing? I am your queen.
- I’M REALLY RATHER CREATIVE. What? How can we talk about “strengths” without mentioning how awesome my imagination is? (I’m humble and proud of it.) I come up with a lot of plot lines and I’m fond of them all. Although that’s a problem, because you try being fond of 49 books and then having to choose which one to pay attention to. It’s like feeing one piranha and swimming frantically away from the rest.
I think recognising one’s strengths and weaknesses can be important — but I also don’t always think it’s something to be hung up over. Authors get known for their brilliance in different areas! I love John Green’s books for his characters NOT his plots. I love Sally Green for her writing NOT her originality. I love Maggie Stiefvater for…everything. Ugh. She’s one of those all-round-sickeningly-talented authors, but let’s not get into that now.
We can always improve! YES. But I believe it’s also okay to have specific strengths. I don’t think any part of your writing should be allowed to flob around uselessly — but if you struggle with epic, twisty plots but you’ve got the most fabulous characters ever? I think you can be proud of that and NOT bust your braincells and hope and self-esteem trying to be a perfect plot writer if it’s not your thing.
I’m a plot writer. I hope I have spectacular characters who are funny and intriguing and relatable, but I’m pretty sure my forte is in an interesting story line. I’m definitely working on being better at characters though because — hello! They’re literally the LIFE of the party.