Friday, September 28, 2007

Five Strengths as a Writer Meme

Vesper tagged me to talk about what I see as my 5 greatest strengths as a writer. It's not the most comfortable topic for me, since I generally believe it's up to other people to identify our strengths. We're a bit biased (and possibly delusional), after all! I like a meme now and then, however, so I'm going to give it a go.

What I think I'm good at:

1. Mood. The atmosphere of a story is one of my favorite elements to create. Creative choices in scene setting are infinite. The danger, however, is to go overboard. I had to learn to pull back and give the reader some space.

2. Livability. I try to stay very close to the action so the reader can live the scene. I avoid adding a layer of character retelling/commentary.

3. Strong language. I've found that brief, but vivid sentences with strong verbs have far more impact that a paragraph jam-packed with description. My background as a Latin major also helps me mix up the structure of sentences to keep the feeling fresh.

4. Pacing to real time. Along the lines of #2, I want the experience of reading my stories to generally take the same amount of time as the action described. The language reflects the reality. For example, no literary treatment of high tension/action scenes. The flying pace is reflected in short, racing sentences.

5. Learning. Even as I say these things, I think I can improve. I simply don't trust myself to ever get it totally right. That attitude helps me separate writing failures from personal failures.

How about you? What are your strengths?


Bernita said...

"I generally believe it's up to other people to identify our strengths."

I so agree with that.
Did you mention your use of vivid language, Jason - that tweaks perception into new channels?

Vesper said...

You have all that, Jason, and a lot more. One can learn plenty from you, even from a five items list...


I'm not a big "tag" fan, but I have to say, this is one of the better tags. In an effort to improve my own writing -- to move from poetry to pros-- I've recently been acquireing about different styles and elements of good stories. Thank you for sharing your strengths Jason, it makes me start to think about my own. I find so many times we focus on obstacles we face and where we have to improve instead of looking at where we excell.

ybonesy said...

I think it is a good exercise to think about your strengths as a writer. It's so easy to put down a great book and reflect on what was strong about it. Much harder to ask the same thing about oneself.

I like writing that is detailed, not removed or analytical. (I think you called that Livability, which is a good way to describe it.) I like writing that touches on quirky yet ordinary events and feelings, those things we all experience but think maybe we're the only ones.

I want my writing to embody both, but I don't think I'm there yet.

SzélsőFa said...

I tend to focus on my weak points instead of the strong ones, but this meme has a positive feeling about it. There are some people who should be forced to shift their focus to the positive side of their own self.
You're, fonrtunately, not one of those. And you've definitely got the items you listed.

The Anti-Wife said...

One of my greatest strengths is my ability to accept criticism and use it constructively to improve my work.

I think you are spot on in assessing your strengths. It's always interesting to read what you write.

Jude said...

You're so thorough Jason. I got tagged to do this and my list was no where near as detailed... you clearly thought this one out. Great stuff!

the individual voice said...

I agree with all your strengths for you. Many of your strengths are my weaknesses. I am clueless as to any of my own writing strengths. It just feels like one big struggle.

Anonymous said...

Bernita, because of something an English professor told me years ago, I try (although certainly don't succeed) to never describe something the same way twice.

Vesper, thanks! I enjoyed the tag. :)

Eating Poetry, I very much agree with what you're doing. There are many strong writing styles. By taking measures of each, we create our own unique voice.

Ybonsey, I like writing that touches on quirky yet ordinary events and feelings.... That's a great approach. Seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Great literature falls into that category.

Szelsofa, it's essential to always start with the strong points before moving on to the weak points. That way, you don't inadvertently lose what shines in your writing by "fixing" what isn't broken. Criticism can leave you feeling lost. Knowing your strengths keeps you moving in the right direction.

Anti-Wife, that's a huge one. Many, many writers lack it, and because of that, will be hindered.

Jude, I liked the reflection. It's good to do now and again.

Individual Voice, if you're unsure what your strengths are, then you are in dire need of identifying them. I'm officially tagging you for this meme! I know those strengths are in there. :)

angel said...

dude, i think you're fantastic!
i agree we can be biased in listing our own strengths, but i also think its important to acknowledge them and keep them in the back of our minds.
i have learned a lot from you and i value your opinions.

the individual voice said...

Thank you, Jason. Done. My first meme.

SzélsőFa said...

I embraced your words of advice. And the good things have started to come up to me. Thanks for cheering me up.

Shesawriter said...

"The danger, however, is to go overboard. I had to learn to pull back and give the reader some space."

The key is to make setting and description as much of a character as your protagonist is, while having both (mood/protagonist) interact with and use each other. That way the mood stuff doesn't come off as filler.

Anonymous said...

Angel, wow! Thanks for the glowing words. :)

Individual Voice, I'm happy that your strengths spoke to you!

Szelsofa, your strengths are your salvation. I'm glad they led you.

Shesawriter, that's another great point. The interaction with the environment is vital. It makes for a stunning character.