1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    How You Know What You're Good At?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Jan 29, 2012.

    How do you know when you're good at an element of writing? That it flows the best when writing it, like with me and dialogue? Or can one only really know it from what others tell them when critiquing? Very curious about this, to say the least.
     
  2. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I think when you read a lot, you start to recognize your favorite writers' strengths. When you read your own work, I think you also get a sense of what you think you do well. This doesn't mean others will agree with you (or even notice the little things you might like in your writing) but it's a start.

    I would say though that receiving critique would probably be the easiest and best way.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I write dialogue very easily, too, and that's why I don't trust it. If it comes too easy, I think I'm probably not doing it well enough.

    I've been told by instructors and classmates that my description and narrative skills are excellent, but I have to say I work hard at those aspects of writing. I work carefully and slowly on the first draft, and I rewrite and rework several times with even more care.

    Serious critique will tell you what you're good at. Don't think you're good at something just because you find it easy.
     
  4. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Through feedback.

    I always thought I was terrible with dialogue until complete strangers were contacting me to tell me they liked the realism/humour in my character's dialogue.
     
  5. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you just get a sense of it. I'm usually pretty good at looking at my own prose objectively. I know I have to work on my dialogue sometimes. I know my prose in general has the ability to be extremely mediocre, but I know that a good portion of the time, I can write extremely poetic stuff that sounds brilliant when read aloud and just flows really well.
    It starts with feedback, I think. You need someone whose literary opinion you trust and value, and when they tell you exactly what they think about your writing, you can take what they say and shape it to be the way you want. Then you can essentially use that as a standard.

    A piece I wrote in 2009 is my standard, and I don't have to reread it to know whether what I'm writing is better or worse than it. I can get a pretty good feeling from it. I know some writers who are disgustingly critical of their own work and rarely praise themselves and think all their stuff is shit. I know some who think their shit is great. I try and stay as far from both as I possibly can, because in that middle area is where a good writer sits. Being a good writer isn't about talent. It's about attitude. If you've got the wrong attitude, your prose will never change, and therefore any and all talent you might have will be wasted.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel the same way. Dialogue comes easy to me, but I'm not sure if that means it's any good. What I have received compliments for is the descriptions, both of the characters and their surroundings and their feelings. I really don't know what conclusion to draw from that.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you've read enough good writing that you can tell the good from the not-good, you'd know...
     
  8. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    A huge part of being good at something is to have good judgment on the subject. You develop that by critiquing other's work, having yours critiqued, and last but not least, discussing and exchanging impression of culture and fiction with others (friends, and other people in the craft). What you'll learn from the latter is how your own perception works and where it differs from that of others. You'll learn where your judgment can be trusted and where it needs improvement. In basic terms, knowing good from bad will lift the blindfold when making decisions about your own work, and a vast part of writing is about decision making.
     
  9. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    By reading.

    I pick up best sellers and see how they compare to my own writing.
     
  10. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second everyone who said "by reading".

    Whether we realize it or not, we all have good judgement. We know what books we like and what books we don't. The same idea applies to movies, food or anything that is a subjective experience. Once you realize this, treat your own work as though someone else wrote it and ask, "Do I like this? Do I want to keep reading?" If you feel even the slightest uncertainty or a hitch before you say "Yes", consider a rewrite.

    I could be wrong, but it works for me.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all you need do is compare any page of your own work to any page of 9 different good writers' work in the same genre and you should be able to see either the difference or a similarity in quality...
     

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