05 June 2010

Know Your Weakness

As a new writer, one of the biggest traps we fall into is to continue writing exactly as we did the time before. Perhaps if you were published with world-wide distribution the first (and every subsequent) time you submitted your manuscript, this is a real possibility. For the rest of us mere mortals, it’s important to work on our writing, to continuously develop it until we begin getting more acceptances than rejections.

So, how do we accomplish this?

First, we need to figure out what exactly it is that may be driving our rejection rate up. In that, we have to take a hard look at what our weaknesses might be. Dialogue stiff and stale? Characters uninteresting and one-dimensional? Plots not moving anywhere? No growth in the characters?

One of my own is a lack of description, for both the characters or the surrounding scenery. I suffer from being a writer of minimalist proportions. In other words, if I don’t see a point to giving a description of something, I leave it out. For example, if it really doesn’t matter whether someone has blue eyes or brown, I don’t think to include the information. Even if that character is a main player in the particular story, it still gets dropped.

Needless to say, this is likely why my novels end up being so short, and probably why I still get a sizeable number of rejections.

So, now that we’ve determined what our weaknesses are (and I’ve limited my discussion just to this one, even if I have several others), we need to work on eliminating them. Make time in your writing schedule to work on exercises which will serve to strengthen those writing muscles. In my own example, I’ve made it a goal to write several stories in which I’ve gone out of my way to develop more description of things I’ve never thought were important before.

Now this isn’t to say that this overdone description will eventually make it into the final product. Part of the remaining process will be in determining what should stay and what should go. Getting it out on paper and developing our writing technique to overcome our weakness is only the first step. As with any development, it will take time, but the end result should be well worth the effort.

So, figure out what needs work in your own writing. Once you know your weaknesses, develop your writing to overcome them.

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T. M. Hunter has always had a fascination with interstellar travel, spacecraft and beings from other worlds. Twice a top ten finisher in the P&E Readers Poll for his short stories (2007, 2009), his book HEROES DIE YOUNG earned several accolades, including Champagne Books’ Best-Selling Book of 2008 award. FRIENDS IN DEED is his latest novel. For more information, including links to his published short stories and novels, please visit AstonWest.com. You can also find T. M. Hunter on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.