Displaying My Strengths and Weaknesses
Okay, so now that I’ve written my first book, Northern Knights, and will be off to open-publish my second book, a little novella called Fighting Tyranny, I’ve done enough self-editing to display where I’m strong in my writing and where I need to improve.
It’s always fun to self-evaluate yourself, but serious too, because it shows your strengths and weaknesses in black and white. Always take pride in your strengths and build upon those weaknesses, which are opportunities to shine later on.
So, without further ado, let’s see how I stack up:
*Northern Knights and Fighting Tyranny are first books in their respective series’, but they each take place in the same world. One strength: I’m not afraid of complex world-building or complex plots.
*Ferocious self-editing skills. I self-edit and I do so often, focusing on one to two items per self-edit. Being a disciple of Jerry Jenkins, I can see errors like telling instead of showing, failing to omit needless words, and using excess dialogue tags rather than beats, all of which I later correct.
*Per my early readers, I can make them feel as if they’re in the scene, eavesdropping. What’s even sweeter is many of my early readers aren’t readers, meaning they’re not bookworms. These people would rather watch TV or a movie version, but they’re enjoying Northern Knights. This is a good sign because it makes people forget they’re reading.
*I give the reader their own theatrics. Here, I love to describe characters minimally, allowing the reader the liberty of creating the appearance of each character in their mind, another tactic I picked up from Jenkins but also Les Edgerton.
*I’m good with action. As mentioned above, I’m great with using beats instead of the ‘he said,’ ‘she said,’ mantra. I describe characters at times through dialogue. I’ll state what they’re doing as they’re speaking, rather than long lines of dialogue.
*My plot can be difficult to follow at times. Something I need to do better is to make the plot flow smoother. Once I’m in the Marathon of the Middle, I’m fine, but introducing the inciting incident and initial surface problems might confuse my readers. A red flag.
*I can overdo character personas. Northern Knights displays this while Fighting Tyranny is looking to fix this. Furthermore, I’ll sometimes use too much hyperbole and readers do pick up on this.
*I overthink. While editing Northern Knights, I flip-flopped several times to structure even the most basic sentences. Something I learned was as long as the sentence serves the plot, choosing perfect words for everything isn’t necessary. Pay attention to structure, but don’t stress whether or not to use a comma, an article, a conjunction, preposition, etc.
*I lack creativity. Yeah, my creativity skills really aren’t great. For instance, those who read Northern Knights and also know me and where I’m from will see that I practically took Wintersville, Ohio and made it my main setting, calling it Richfield, North Columbia. Most of my characters are almost directly based on real people. While the creativity may be there to an outsider, I need real-life people and places to add interest to my story or else I’d crash and burn.
*I can make fiction look unbelievable. While this may’ve worked at one time, readers may not like the fact I bail out some character mishaps. For instance, if one of my characters has a flaw, I might continually “cover it up” while it sticks out like an elephant in the room. I need to ask myself more of what would happen in real-life in such situations rather than creating bigger bailouts than the automobile industry received back in 2010-2011. Readers notice!
World building, legitimate, passionate messages, compelling characters, action-packed flow, and complex plots spanning centuries are what I can bring. However, the downside might make such plots appear to be unbelievable and in fantasy, not fantastical enough from a real-world setting. While it may sound contradicting, unbelievable moments in too ordinary of worlds might be a bad combo in fantasy. If I can bring such weaknesses up to par with my strengths, a complete history of such worlds spanning perhaps into millenniums would attract those who loved Tolkien, R.R. Martin, and Rowling. But, it’s going to take a lot of work, and years of honing such a craft to reach such lofty expectations, along with roadblocks, stalls, and sputters along the way.
It’s always good to have a come-to with yourself, and a real one at that. Sure, we all have our strengths and should pride on them, but it’s knowing our weaknesses and addressing them is what really makes champions. For instance, if an NFL team ends a season needing a running back, receiver, linebacker, and safety, they’re going to address those positions in free agency and the Draft. They’re not going to after positions they’re already strong in. We should conduct similar tactics.
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