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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

10 October 2007

Five writing strengths

My friend Lisa Kenney of the blog Eudaemonia tagged me with a new meme: Identify five writing strengths I have. Her timing was perfect, because I had no clue what to blog about this week. My life still revolves around unpacking boxes, dealing with contractors, and trying not to get lost on the way to the grocery store. I haven’t given much thought to writing.

Here, then, are what I consider five of my writing strengths.

1. I have a good vocabulary and excellent grammar and spelling skills. Readers usually don’t have to guess what I’m getting at because I’ve used the right words in the right order.

2. I have a thick skin. Writers need feedback. I can accept it from editors and other writers without feeling hurt. (I do admit to getting annoyed with physician and scientist reviewers for my nonfiction articles who substitute multisyllabic technical terms for plain Anglo-Saxon, ask for irrelevant information to be added, and insist on other reader-unfriendly changes.)

3. I’m concise.

4. I didn’t start writing fiction seriously until my mid-forties. As a result, I have a wealth of personal experience to draw on: I’ve lived all over the country; been poor, well off, and in-between; known people of many ages, occupations, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and political leanings; had a wide variety of jobs; made colossal screw-ups; and looked death in the face. I can write from experience instead of rehashing what I’ve read in other novels.

5. I read a lot of nonfiction, particularly history, biography, and science. It’s a good way to replenish the creative well with ideas, and it fills in the gaps in my knowledge when I want to write about something I haven’t experienced personally.

So often, by the time I’ve been tagged for a meme, everyone I know has already done it. Not so this time. So I will tag:

Farrah Rochon

Roz at The Ninth Muse

Sphinx Ink

Candice at Candy’s Blog

Therese Fowler at Making It Up


cs harris said...

You're right--this is hard! So far I've come up with four...

Charles Gramlich said...

I really like your #3. "I'm concise." Well said. I think the nonfiction thing is very important. It definetely seems to feed you better than a fiction only diet.

Lisa said...

#3 has me grinning too! I'm really glad you reminded me that there are some benefits to beginning to write fiction after forty. I spend so much time thinking that I have a lot of time to make up for that I forget that all during that time I was having all kinds of experiences. Thank you so much for that reminder!

Shauna Roberts said...

CANDICE, considering how many good books you've written, I'm surprised your problem is coming up with five good things rather than chopping your list down to five.

CHARLES, I think reading nonfiction is really important for a writer. But it does cut into my sf/f reading, and so I don't stay as up to date on trends as I'd like. I have to cheat by reading the Locus book reviews instead of the books themselves.

LISA, for me the value of experience struck home when I read Eragon (a fantasy about a boy and his dragon written by a 15-year-old). I enjoyed it, but it was completely derivative. I could guess what books he'd read and what movies he'd seen in his short life. Then it hit me: What else did he know? He'd never driven a car, gone to college, lived apart from his parents, gotten married, had kids, been in the army, bought a house, gone to jail, etc. He knew the world only from books, and his novel reflected that limited experience.

Therese said...

#3 made me smile too.

You make such important points with this list. And I don't think it can be overstressed that learning to write non-fiction effectively is a priceless skill for fiction-writing.

Thanks for the tag; I'll post my list this weekend.

Travis Erwin said...

You have a great list of strenghts. Isn't it odd how much harder it is to find and list your strengths as opposed to your weaknesses? At least it is that way for me.

Shauna Roberts said...

TRAVIS, thanks for stopping by. Several people have echoed what you said, that finding strengths is hard compared with weaknesses. For me, it was the opposite. If I had to choose just five flaws, that would have taken a long time to narrow them down to just five. But there aren't that many strengths to choose from.

Therese said...

I'm back! I did it! (Finally...)

I said I'm concise, too--but perhaps not as concisely. :)

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

That's interesting. It made me stop and consider what my own strengths were. That depressed me. Take care.