That’s right. I’m asking you to expose your biggest weakness. *locks the door so no one can escape* *evil grin*
We all have weaknesses. I’m one of the biggest perfectionists around, but that doesn’t prevent me from having oodles of imperfections. It’s only by knowing where we need more work that we can improve.
In other words, admitting our weaknesses is good for us. *smile*
This is especially true when we have a career like writing that requires a complex skill set. To be a successful writer, we need skills varying from practical to creative and left-brain to right-brain. Truthfully, it’s a wonder any of us accomplish anything.
- We have to be psychologists to analyze our characters and give them depth.
- We have to be storytellers who know how to spin a good yarn.
- We have to be craftsmen with words and grammar.
- We have to be ruthless self-editors to create tension and a fast pace.
- We have to be able to summarize our story in a synopsis.
- We have to be organized to meet deadlines.
- We have to be researchers to understand our agent and publishing options.
- We have to be business people to understand contracts.
- We have to be accountants to understand royalties.
- We have to be marketers to spread the word about our books.
- We have to write queries and back cover copy.
- We have to make our bios sound interesting.
- Etc., etc. (Seriously, I could go on all day with this.)
It would be impossible for us to be great at all those things. We’re all going to suck at some (at least one) of them. Over the years I’ve been writing, some of my weaknesses have changed—and one item has stubbornly, pathetically, shamefully stayed the same.
When I first started, my grammar and general writing craft was somewhere between lacking and non-existent. I worked on that weakness, and now it’s one of my strengths.
Then my big problem was word count. My first novel came out at 136K words, and I thought I was drawing blood to get it down to 120K. The more I learned about how to write tight, the more I was able to trim, and now that same story (no cut scenes!) is at 93K.
After that, I tackled my long, passive descriptions. Now my descriptions are almost too short, and what I have is active and in the character’s point of view.
Next, I had to learn how to include sensory details and emotion. I still have to consciously focus on that one a bit, so it’s not to the “unconscious competence” level of knowledge like I’ve talked about before, but it’s about 80% there.
So what’s my ongoing and forever nemesis? Queries. I suck at queries.
I’m not very good at summarizing my stories for synopses either, but at least they’re not horrible. My synopses are possibly even mediocre if I write them before writing the story. (Yay! Mediocre.) But when it comes to queries (and by extension, back cover copy), I fail with a capital “F.”
If I come up with something decent-ish sounding for a query, it’s invariably the wrong tone, or focuses on the wrong conflict, or gives the wrong impression about the story, or is just plain confusing. *sigh*
I’ve read—no joke—about a hundred blog posts or articles about how to write queries. Nothing helps because my suckitude isn’t caused by a lack of knowledge about what should go into a query or anything like that. No, I just have a hard time boiling down the characters and plot in a clear way without losing my voice and the tone of the book.
My fiction voice naturally uses a lot of subtext, with things implied rather than spelled out. Subtext doesn’t work in queries, though, because agents skim read them. Also, my stories always have a unique premise that’s hard for me to explain in a sentence.
I keep plugging away at it though. Even if I decide only to self-publish, I’d still have to write up something for the book description. Back cover copy requires the same type of writing as queries, so I need to be able to do this.
Oh yeah, and I suck at titles too, probably for similar reasons.
Can You Confess Your Weaknesses?
Did you notice how I recognized and worked on several weaknesses over the past several years? If I’d been in denial, I wouldn’t have been able to overcome them.
We usually try to keep our weaknesses hidden, but there’s a benefit to admitting them.
- We might find others with that as a strength who can help us.
- We’ll see that we’re not alone.
- We might discover motivation and/or resources to improve in that area.
On the other hand, we don’t want to focus only on our weaknesses, so let’s end on a positive note and share our strengths too. As I mentioned above, one of my greatest strengths is the ability to come up with a unique premise for my stories. Everyone from contest judges to beta readers tell me my story premises are amazing. If only that didn’t make querying harder. *smile*
What weaknesses do you have as a writer (like those bullet items above)? Can your critique partners, beta readers, agents, or editors help you overcome those weaknesses? What strengths do you have? Would you be willing to help others here with a weakness that matches your strength?Pin It