1. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Style Your Biggest Weakness as a Writer

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Catrin Lewis, May 4, 2014.

    What would you say your biggest weakness is as a writer? Why do you think that is? And what are you doing about it?

    I'll lead off, starting with the second question.

    As a reader I hate being confused. I dislike not knowing who's speaking. I get annoyed when there's a scene break and I can't tell if what comes after is a chronological sequel (redundant? :p ) to what came before, or a flashback, or a dream sequence or what. I don't like it when characters do inexplicable things for inexplicable reasons.

    I also don't care for it when I've written something, fiction or nonfiction, and a reader says, "You should have said something about XYZ" and dammit, I did. Right there on page 3, didn't you catch it?

    So . . . on the principle of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," I try to make sure every damn thing is clear. Maybe too clear. Thoroughly and at length and sometimes with repetition. As in spoonfeeding the reader. As in assuming that it isn't enough to leave what I need to convey implicit in my prose for the intelligent reader to derive.

    Then, too, I teach school and making sure every last damn thing is clear is part of my job. :rolleyes:

    What am I doing about it? Posting on the Workshop is proving very helpful. Having more experienced writers tell me that all the explication isn't needed is encouraging me to take a deep breath and venture on leaving it out.

    However. If you get a flashback or a dream sequence out of me, you'll know that's exactly what it is. :D

    Your turn. What do you struggle with?
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
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  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sticking to it. I still don't know if I will end up being able to competently write fiction. And I enjoy writing nonfiction in not-particularly-productive places like my blog. So I spend most of my time writing nonproductive nonfiction. I really do want to put in the several thousand hours of fiction-writing that I feel I need to get over that hump of either "Hey, I think I can learn to do this" or "No, I don't like this." But it's not as much fun, so I don't do it.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Discipline, or lack thereof. :oops: Hours of writing time go by when I should be focusing on why Victoria is still an empty shell, yet somehow that's not what I'm doing...
     
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  4. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to consciously stop myself from repeating single sentences - slightly tweaked or otherwise - from page to page.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Slow beginnings. I love my slow beginnings, but nobody else does! I like to find the story's voice, the style, and introduce the character and setting before anything important happens. Even in my short stories, the opening hook doesn't come until four or five pages in :eek:.

    I have to muster up enough sheer evilness of spirit, deadness of soul, and serial-killer savagery to cut those first pages out! I know the saying is "kill your darlings," but I often have a really hard time doing that.

    The other major thing I have a problem with is managing climaxes. In my first drafts, they're usually very perfunctory, sometimes going by in as little as three lines. They're easy for the reader to miss, and they're the crux of the story! I have to revise and revise to give enough space and weight to the climaxes.

    I'm sure I have many other faults, but those are, I think, the main ones.
     
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  6. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    I have trouble committing to a story. I try something but I always think "Actually, why am I doing this story?" or sometimes I or someone else convinces me that it would be good to do something else, something which I don't really passionately want to write about. What am I doing about it? Well, I am not giving up on my current one because I know it could be the one. I don't care how hard it gets to see the point in writing it I WILL finish it. If it doesn't work I'll just put my hands up and say "Ok, I was foolish," and start another one but I have a feeling it won't.
     
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  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're making new medals and trophies and other graphic things to give to our forum members! And writing blog posts about accounting, right? :p
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Sticking to deadlines ( maybe I shouldn't call it a deadline - what a gruesome word when you think about it. )

    Sometimes to motivate myself I put up a big poster on my cork board - doesn't always work. A few weeks ago I posted - Week of the Worms! - to force myself to finish The Worms of Wicher-Woo but some personal issues ( life! ) came up and it didn't get done.

    Grammar. Comma's - grrrr, ( this thing - ) - grrrr. Rule breaking. Half the time it's not a conscious style issue but a
    fortuitous mistake. I'd rather it be more from a knowledge standpoint, I'm breaking a rule not - oh well, it sounds good.
    I've got grammar books and once a week I study them. Plus, I study styles that I know break rules and that I love. It's very slow going. Grammar books have the most boring sample sentences in the world.

    Being what I think is clever. My prose can go from mauve to neon purple, distracting from the story and characters. My broken sentences, overwinded sentences, odd descriptions, eclectic images can take over. Sometimes I'm scared it's just a wrinkly sheet that needs to be ironed out.
     
  9. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Writing.
     
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  10. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Okay, jokes, jokes. I think I struggle with a few things, all of which I am working on:

    1.) Subplots. I also seem to want to focus on a single thread of story and nothing more. This has worked for some things I've written, but definitely not the majority.

    2.) Developing characters. Sometimes they can feel quite 2-D.

    3.) Narrative, because I find dialogue so much easier, and with narrative, I have to describe the picture I see in my mind. Not easy.
     
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  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Have you checked out Karen Elizabeth Gordon's The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed? It definitely does not suffer from Boring Sample Sentence Syndrome. :)
     
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  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, that one by far is my favorite! I wish more grammar books would go that route. In fact I wish the Bulwer-Lytton contest people would put out some grammar book.
     
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  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some book about writing, I forget which one, was very emphatic about the idea that you must stay connected to the story, working on it regularly, not allowing any substantial delays, or you will lose the excitement and the story will die. That when picked up again after a delay, the story just won't have the pull that it had. I keep trying to remember that, and I keep dropping my stories and letting them die.
     
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  14. Morristreet
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    Morristreet Member

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    My biggest struggle is pacing. I tend to leap from event to event without doing the back story or interstitial in between. I have had that issue in all of my work, so I tend to write it, then sit back for a day or so, then read it over and add in here I need to to actually make it a story instead of one active scene bunched up on another.

    My worst thing to do though ... writing the end before I finish the rest of the story. Then I totally lose my pace. I did that with my naval fiction work and am still trying to come to grips that the story has to have a decent beginning and middle to match up to the wild end that I already crafted.
     
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  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have pacing problems, too. It's sometimes hard to know how much weight - how many words - to give a scene or portion of a scene. I find myself writing unimportant dialogue that goes on forever (dialogue is easy to write for me, as it is for most writers), and I keep having to cut it back to the essentials. How much description should I lavish on this garden? How much exposition should go here? Is it reasonable to spend three whole pages on someone making a pot of stew? How important is that stew? Etc. etc.

    Things get out of balance easily with me. I'm always fixing (or trying to fix) pacing issues in revision. I find it hard to get it right.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    My biggest problem: I have very poor proofreading skills at times. I also can either be too lax with detail (including description) or too grinding with it.
     
  17. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    For me... dialog. I've been working on it. I think I've come a long way, but that's not saying much because where I started was pretty bad.
     
  18. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I do this too, and I think it has a lot to do with switching from a non-fiction to a fiction focus. When writing informational articles you can't leave anything to the imagination. Every point you make has to be absolutely clear. If you try going to fiction later, which is all about showing instead, then you have a problem:(.
    The first drafts I tried of the MS I'm working on were horrible. They went on and on and on repeating the same thing again and again in case the point hadn't been made, and literally hit the reader over the head. I had to read lots of books that were very simply written to learn how to stop talking so much, and it still doesn't always work!
    But then again, it might be a teacher thing. We cannot make a habit of confusing little minds:D.
     
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  19. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    You may have something there.

    *takes deep breath*

    *lectures self*

    This is not an essay. This is not a lesson. This is a novel. Get that? A novel!
     
  20. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    I have trouble with tangents. I have a tendency to get distracted by a certain idea and go on and on, further away from where I need to be, and end up with a bunch of crap with no place or reason to be kept. Sometimes it can work in my favor but most times it's just lack of focus and a waste of time.
     
  21. LeighAnn
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    LeighAnn Member

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    My biggest weakness is I don't know where to stop. I'm constantly writing far past the end of my story. I'm not even the one who notices. My editor usually ends up saying, "It's really great, but I'm going to cut you off at chapter 40. 41 through 57 are just plain unnecessary."

    Think of all the time I could have spent working on something else.
     
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  22. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm lazy.
     
  23. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    So much dialogue!

    That may be my biggest stylistic problem, but my biggest writing problem is not being able to edit past a certain point. What I mean is, in the first draft it's easy enough to get the words down. If they're not perfect, it's okay, I can polish them later. A general editing pass is harder but doable. But when I'm at the point where each word and each sentence needs maximum shine, every word I put down sound like shit to me. It's horrible. My internal editor has better taste and expectations than my skill can support.
     
  24. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Subplots, and just fleshing out the story. Once it's down, I'm okay lol :D
     
  25. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Focus.

    I tend

    to be



    all over


    the









    place.

    I go down many rabbit...........................................................................................................trails.
     
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