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  1. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Non-practicing American Contributor

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    "Putting Your Worst Foot Forward" article on Tor

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by Iain Aschendale, Jan 10, 2019 at 5:35 PM.

    Just had this pop up in my inbox, an article on Tor's website about the fact that we as writers should not only be aware of our weaknesses, but focus on them. It's by someone named Charlie Jane Anders, who I'm not familiar with, but it seems like pretty solid advice regardless of the source.

    Putting Your Worst Foot Forward: Why You Should Play to Your Weaknesses as an Author

    From the article:

     
  2. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    I got that email too.
     
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  3. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    It's a great article! Thank you for posting it!
     
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  4. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's good advice, but I've struggled when I've tried to follow this approach in the past because I don't think just practicing is enough to make things better. I think it needs to be mindful, reflective, directed practice. Like, I need to have a strategy for making things better, and then work on following that strategy.

    But I can't find a strategy that works.

    Plotting is my weak point. I'm pretty sure about that. But when I try the standard tools for "plotting" a story, they all seem ridiculous and don't work for me at all. Possibly I just need to trust others and hope that if I keep trying, over and over, eventually the tools will start making sense... but I don't have a lot of confidence in that approach.

    I see other writers who are weak at areas where I'm stronger - characterization, say. And I see them working and working and not, to my mind, getting significantly better. They don't have the natural affinity for characterization, and endless work sheets and writing exercises don't really seem to be helping.

    So, while I agree that it's important for writers to have as few weak areas as possible, and important for us to work to improve, the how to work to improve is still a bit foggy, for me.

    Has anyone else had success in strengthening an area of their writing that was previously weak?
     
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  5. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

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    I think the article is mostly feel good nonsense.

    Those aspects of fiction writing that have you struggling need to be dealt with. Period. My editor let me know where I'm strongest, and what needs work. So I focus on those areas that I need to improve, and slowly, too slowly for my liking, I get better. The secret, if there is one, is that I don't end a writing session until I get what's in my head on the page, and in just the way I want it. It might take six hours, or eight or ten or twelve or when I notice the sun has come up and the cat needs to be taken out to do her business.
    There's a lot of advice out there for writers. However, none of it's being given by writers who are anywhere near as good as Orwell, or Stevenson, or Chabon, or Kipling, or the others that are sitting right here on my bookshelves.
     
  6. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I feel like the thesis of the article is the same as the thesis of your post. What parts did you disagree with?
     
  7. EBohio

    EBohio Member

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    If the internet had existed for them do you think they would visit a forum like this and share advice?
    The really great ones didn't really share how they did it. Like they wanted to keep it a secret.
     
  8. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

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    I don't think you should ever avoid those aspects of writing that you aren't so good at. That's all.

    Transitions are one of my big bugaboos. Whether subtle or stark I have trouble writing transitions from one scene to the next seamlessly. I'm getting a lot better at them, and sometimes they even come naturally. I've found like everything else to do with writing, there's an art to it.
     
  9. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    There are many great writers who've written extensively about the craft of writing. Both Hemingway and King wrote books titled On Writing. The writing craft has a history of mentoring. On this web site there are many published writers who has gone out of their way to help newbies like myself.
     
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