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12 October 2010 @ 11:07 pm
Writing meta  
I tend to switch from crisis to happiness as regards writing, particularly of late. It's made me come to several conclusions:

1. I am allowed to think I am good at something.

I don't know if it's a terribly British thing or what but I find it extremely difficult to admit that I am good at something or that I have a talent. Partly because I lack the confidence to think that I have, partly, I think, because I can't take the idea of someone going 'pfft, don't be stupid, of course you haven't'. It's a lack of self esteem thing. But I'm going to take the plunge...

I'm actually quite good at this writing thing you know.

More importantly, I'm beginning to see more and more what I'm good at, what I need to improve at and what I am just not as a writer (and shouldn't try to be).

2. I'm good at characterisation and plots.

The positive feedback I get most often is about my characterisation and plotting. I tend to get lots of comment about how my writing is so in character, so people can hear them saying the words in their heads, how I get the speech patterns and phrasing right. I also get lots of feedback about the content of the stories, about people liking the plots, particularly when I write the multi chapters stuff.

I'm good at characters. I just have a knack of getting them. I can hear the voices in my head and know instinctively what words they'd use. Maybe it's the old theatre studies training and acting experience coming out.

I love structuring and writing plots. I want people to be interested and surprised. I want them to want to know what happens next. That's why, whilst I can write smaller pieces, I get more joy out of the long plotty ones. And I'm pretty good at creating interesting, coherent plots. In the 'proper' (i.e. published) book I've been reading recently, that's my major criticism. There's some ambling beginning, a lot of middle and then an exciting end all tied up in about 30 pages. That doesn't do it for me. It feels...flabby. I like to think I can write myself a well paced plot where I've thought about character's motivation and emotional journey.

3. I'm not good at writing pretty.

When I read other people's stuff, I am jealous of their ability to write so prettily. To use beautiful similes and poetic language which makes their writing pretty and clever. I can't do it. My style is far more straight forward. And whilst I can write some phrasing I think is really nice, I'm usually far more focussed on what I'm trying to express than how I do it.

It kills me that I can't writing something which would make people say 'wow, that's beautiful'. I've tried it, but I lack the ability and, to me, what I come up with sounds stupid and rather pretentious. It sounds extremely false. Basically, the worst kind of purple prose.

BUT...that's okay. I don't have to do this to be a good writer. It just means that I have a different style from other and so what? There's no 'right' way of doing this after all.

4. I'm getting better at cutting the waffle.

Through the help of a couple of very good betas over the last few years I've got much better at cutting out the crap. I do have a tendency to repeat myself and there's times when I read things back going 'but they've already had this internal dialogue but in a different way elsewhere'. That's what I'm most open about as regards constructive criticism. Not my plots because that's like it or lump it. Not my characterisation because that's how I see them and feedback won't change that. But how I express it is okay to me. Suggestions for improvements are cool.

5. You never stop learning to be a better writer.

And people who think they do are fools. I don't understand it when people only want beta readers to tell them their spelling and grammar mistakes. As I said, I don't particularly want feedback on plots and characters (unless something seriously doesn't work), but getting feedback on how I've written and expressed things is very important imo. Just because you love the way you've written something doesn't mean that it works nor makes a blind bit of sense to anyone else. This is where you need a beta you trust though - because you should feel free to not take their advice if you wish without them having a fit

So, the tl:dr version...

It's okay to think you have talent. I know what I'm good at in writing and it's good stuff. I know what I can't do but that's not a problem; my writing is my style and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Goodness knows if I'd ever be able to make a living out of this but...Hey, at least I enjoy it.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
keenan24keenan24 on October 13th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC)
don't worry, it's not a british thing, it's a human thing and I am like you, I am incapable of telling you what I'm good at. It's not only about self esteem but maybe more self preservation and being able to know you're never a finished product.

And don't fret about the purple prose, most times than not it bores me to tears when I read it in fanfiction.
I'm way more into fast paced; well plotted stories because reading a good story is like watching a movie but in your own mind.
And sometimes a direct writing is easier for the reader to translate into an image than a purple prose that will last 2 pages to only imply the guy kicked th other guy's ass.

Good on you to have a critical but realistic eye on your writing, it's the best way to get better.

And frankly if Stephanie Meyer got millions out of the Twilight thingy, anyone can pursue a career in writing. Especially in the supernatural young adult field. The kids will need something else after Twilight and hopefully they will grow up to enjoy some proper, mormon-less writing... just saying.
doylefan22: sanctuary - Tesla witdoylefan22 on October 14th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
Stephanie Meyer ever getting published is one of life's great mysteries...
KittyGkgaleway on October 13th, 2010 07:52 am (UTC)
If it's a British thing I want my UK citizenship NOW.
doylefan22: Merlin - Gwen watch for the plotdoylefan22 on October 14th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
Hey, come on over here, we'll hang out :D
KittyGkgaleway on October 14th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
Don't make offers like that if you don't mean it. : p
kat_rowe: voices/ideaskat_rowe on October 13th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
Hey, at least I enjoy it.

Which is really all that counts. And, while I don't read your fic, I've enjoyed your RP characterizations and plotty stuff a great deal *hug*

and, yes, people are always learning to be better writers. that's one of my favorite things about writing
doylefan22: Merlin - Morgana/Morgause smirksdoylefan22 on October 14th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
Yup. I think if you don't feel like you're still learning something has gone wrong tbh.
kat_rowekat_rowe on October 24th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
too true. anyone who thinks they're done learning to do something like writing is succumbing to hubris
nikolat3sla: hola!nikolat3sla on October 14th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)
Aw you are a wonderful writer - I'm constantly jealous of your writing during RP and I really must review your fanfiction, because it is excellent.


Keep writing! and thank you - it's a pleasure to RP with such a talented writer.
doylefan22: Merlin - Morgana/Gwen hugdoylefan22 on October 14th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)


Thank you, bb *hugs*