October 26th, 2009
Chinks in the Armour

Have you ever been asked to pick out your weaknesses or strengths? Have you ever asked yourself what your weaknesses/strengths are? I don’t know about you all, but I find that question hard as hell to answer realistically. It sends my inner critic into over-drive and by the time it’s done picking there is nothing left. No strengths, no weaknesses, I mean NOTHING.

As writers we’re constantly told to work on our weaknesses, but there is a school of thought that exists that believes it’s actually better to work on your strengths instead. The theory being if you make your strengths even stronger no one will notice your weaknesses. The latter makes sense if you think about it, but it’s hard to ‘unlearn’ all those years of hearing the opposite advice.

It makes it even more difficult if you can’t pick out what your strengths are. I mean when pushed I can say that one of my writing strengths is my ability to pace a story. It’s something that comes naturally to me. After that, you’d hear a lot of groaning and grunting as I try to come up with another answer. Do I really believe that my only writing strength is pacing? Hell no, but that doesn’t mean I have an answer for the question.

As for weaknesses, my inner critic chomps at the bit, waiting for an opportunity to pounce (and sometimes does before I have a chance to rein it in). It can pick out weaknesses I didn’t even know existed. *g* Funny, how that works.

The last time I asked myself the above questions I ended up cheating to find the answers. Not my proudest moment, but I was desperate. I contacted a couple of my critique partners and asked their opinions. I was honestly surprised by their answers because what they picked out as strengths I didn’t think were anything special.

So if you had to pick out one strength and one weakness, what would they be?

10 comments to “Chinks in the Armour”

  1. It is better to focus on your strengths. One strength and one weakness I could name; making a complete list might take some doing.

  2. Story would be what I’d pick as a strength. Background minutia is my weakness. I’m with Charli, better to focus on your strengths.

  3. Yup, I’m in the make your strengths even stronger and no one will notice your weaknesses…

    Strength for me: pacing, I can write one hell of a roller coaster ride

    Weakness for me: hmm, not sure, probably character arcs, I sometimes have a hard time conveying why my characters do what they are doing

  4. Charli, That’s kind of what I’ve been hearing through books as of late. (Not writing books, but business books.)

  5. Bernard, If people are caught up in the story, then they won’t notice the background.

  6. Vivi, I think in order to play up your strengths you have to be able to identify them. I just find that extremely hard to do, even though I know they’re there.

  7. I think you craft a helluva an action scene

  8. You know what I just realized…why I hate writing synopses so much because they really do emphasize my weaknesses…

    If I coudl just string a bunch of cool action scenes together with some awesome dialogue and pace it so the reader can’t catch their breath, I’d be a helluva lot happier.

  9. Thanks V! You’re not so bad yourself. 😉

  10. Vivi, I got over my fear of synopses when I began to write them as long blurbs. For some reason, I love to write blurbs and can do them pretty well. It literally changed the way I viewed synopses. Try it.