Monday, March 3, 2014

Evaluating my progress as a writer

This post's theme is courtesy of Chuck Wendig at

In his post, the wonderful Wendig asked his readers to evaluate ourselves as writers, and I thought it was a really good exercise. Honestly, I kind of need it right now, given that I've come to a tremulous point in my life. (Junior? Grad school? Writing samples? *sweats nervously*)

Anyway, here goes:

a) What's your greatest strength/ skill in terms of writing/ storytelling?

I'd say at this point, I'm getting better at specific description. With TA, it's crucial for me to have good description because I'm working within a fixed location. Everything has a reason to be where it is. I'm trying to convey a history, and there's nothing that works quite as well for that as description.

b) What's your greatest weakness in writing/ storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

Everything! No, I'm kidding, but some days it really does feel like that. Right now, though, I'm struggling a lot with finding smaller - yet crucial - conflicts to move the plot forward. In general, I tend to worry about my dialogue, and about whether I divulge too much about how my characters feel.

c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

I mean, how finished are we talking about here? Draft 1? Because that's usually where things end up when I abandon them. I've written first drafts of nine novels, give or take. And then I hated them and left them in the corner to die. I do, however, tend to go back to projects and rewrite them a year or two down the line, so I've not given up entirely.

d) Best writing advice you've ever been given?

Get rid of adverbs. If you need to use adverbs, your verbs aren't strong enough. Get rid of anything that isn't "said", otherwise your dialogue isn't strong enough. This was a huge revelation for me.

e) Worst writing advice you've ever been given?

Use lots of adverbs.

f) One piece of advice you'd give other writers?

Don't discard writing on the basis that you don't think it's good enough. Stephen King threw away Carrie because he thought it was terrible, and his wife fished it out again. Bottom line: let your readers tell you what they think of it first.