Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Makes You Shine?

All right, so on Monday I shared a bit of my frustration about publishing and the art of writing. I want to liven things up today...and, admittedly, I need a little positivity!

So, I'm curious. What makes you shine as a writer?

We've talked about how there are few original stories. The originality comes from the writing, from the unique perspective of the writer. So, what's your unique perspective?

I personally think my unique talent is my ability to write stories from different points of view. I've been told that I can write convincingly from both male and female standpoints, young and old standpoints, and I even once wrote a story that includes the points of view of a goose and dog that I am quite proud of.

Now it's your turn. Help me to lift my spirits by celebrating the originality in our writing!


  1. I guess my uniqueness is that I can write convincingly childlike. It doesn't matter the age either. Teenage, grammar school, and even baby. Also I can pull off boy or girl too. And in my picture books I'm anything from lions, to my cat, to horses.

    So to wrap things up here, I can write persuasively in all ages but my own. Hmmm! :)

  2. I have two different voices that I employ in my writing, one for story-telling, and one for dry wit.

    The former allows me to concoct unique premise situations and twist conventional thought. For example, in FATE'S GUARDIAN the basic premise is that a man must die in order to save his soul. By the end, you want him to die even though he will leave behind a wife and family that will suffer from the tragic loss.

    The latter voice is for humor and entertainment. It's harder to sustain through a novel (but I am trying with EARTH'S END), but it works well in short form on my blog (most of the time).

    I shine the best when I'm not trying to shine, and I allow the muse to guide me rather than forcing a post or chapter.

  3. I agree with Rick. Trying not to shine usually works. There's a line in my MG novel that the Slushbusters went crazy over, which when I wrote it, was not something I noticed as particularly brilliant.

    If I were going to define what I think is my strongest quality as a writer, it's use of sensory details to put the reader in the scene. I'm not sure if others who have read my work would agree or not.

  4. I want to read the goose and dog story, Scott. You've been holding out on me, and I'm not happy about that. *folds arms and pouts*

    I think what makes me shine as a writer is keeping the suspense. I seem to be pretty good at holding all the details until the right moment. And I'm good at chapter endings to leave the reader wanting more. Sometimes I think that's the only thing that gets my readers through the other stuff when it's not polished or revised enough.

    But as usual, Rick is brilliant when he says that we shine the best when we aren't trying. At least that's how it works for me.

  5. It took friends to point it out to me initially, because I was asked to define my "writing process" in applying for a grant. My friends said that in all of my writing, I tend to have an underlying theme of hope in the midst of struggle. As I thought about it, that seemed a fair assessment. I would say, then, that that's my "shining" trait -- offering encouragement to others through the stories I choose to tell.

  6. Robyn: I love that you know that detail about your writing. Do you think you'll ever be able to write persuasively in your own age?

    Rick: I really admire your dry wit. Humor is something I really really suck at. I think it's something we're born with, not something we can really learn. My husband is not a comedic actor. He's trying to learn more about comedy so that he can be more versatile, but it's almost like his very nature goes against. Mine too. We're a bunch of old crabs sometimes, although we do laugh at things nobody else does. Hah.

    Michelle: Ah, sensory details can be so hard for me. I always feel like I'm repeating stuff over and over!

    Roxane: That is certainly a beautiful trait to have for shining. That's a great marketing trait right there!

  7. Robyn, That's great. The minds of children fascinate me. Ever since my nephew was born, I've felt like I've rediscovered life from the beginning. It's amazing to try to figure out how he thinks.

    Rick, good point about letting it come naturally. Humor is something I've always been afraid to attempt, especially in a novel. Good luck!

    Michelle, it doesn't matter if others agree. Most likely they do. But, if you think your sensory descriptions are great, chances are you're passionate about them and they ARE great!

    Michelle, suspense is a great one! I think that is so hard to do, but I love it when a book manages to pull me from one chapter to the next by using suspense without withholding information in a manupulative way.

    Roxane, that trait is beautiful. I'm glad your friends were able to point it out to you. It's really neat how sometimes others can see a commonality in your writing that you don't see yourself.

  8. Davin, I'm obviously not getting sleep because I thought this post was Scott's. Okay, now I'm mad at YOU for holding out with the goose and the dog. I thought it was weird that Scott would write a goose and a dog POV...

    Argh, I need to check who's posting, and what day of the week it is. Everything's running into a blur lately. *sigh*

  9. I'm not sure shine is the operative word for me but I do like to write light and humorous text. I think there is a market for just about anything. (at least I hope there is!)

  10. No worries, Michelle! That story is actually included in an anthology that an agent has been shopping around, so it's still unpublished, but hopefully not for long.

    T. Anne, where's the confidence?? :P I think light and humorous is great!

  11. I think I'm pretty good at writing realistic dialogue.

    Also, during NaNoWriMo I have let my guard down (due to writing fast), and I've been in silly moods and written some funny stuff--at least I think so. I'm still trying to figure out how I can marry my goofiness with my more literary aspirations.

  12. Annie, I'm always jealous of people who can write good dialog. Do you have any pointers? As for combining silliness with literary, I think you've got a bunch of good examples. Check out Proust, Anne Tyler, and Nabokov. I'm sure others could name more people.

  13. For silliness and literary, try Thomas Pynchon and Tom Robbins.

  14. I've been told I write middle-grade humor well. Or maybe my writer friends are trying to tell me I'm immature and silly. Which I'll take as compliments. :)

    For me personally, I am most satisfied when I am able to express loyalty and tenderness between friends.

  15. Roxane: underlying theme of hope in the midst of struggle. That is so great. I've been reading some books lately in which there seems to be no light, no redemption and it's depressing.

    Thanks for bringing hope.

  16. I think I can write funny well, but also can pull out some tense conflict. So I've got the extremes covered, emotion-wise ;)

  17. I've been told I write families well. I can do good descriptions when I'm thinking about them, I think. I'm not very good at saying what I'm good at though.

  18. How very fun to celebrate our strenghts. I love, love this post and am having a great time reading through the comments :)

    For me, I've been told I can write very atmospheric pieces. Like you forget you're not really in 1957. Honestly, I'm not sure it's always true and not sure exactly how it happens, but that's what I've been told.

  19. Liven things up? I'm in.
    I think I have a natural, lyric quality to my writing that people like. And I've been told I'm the queen of the great hook. I seem to know how to end a chapter on a razor's edge.

  20. Yat-Yee, your humor definitely comes through. You have a lovely voice in your writing.

    Beth, Ooh, funny and a bad date. :P Seriously, those are some righteous traits.

    Lois, I write a lot of family stuff. I'd love to read some of your work!

    Tess, that makes a lot of sense given how much you like to write historical stuff. I can't wait to read more of your work. I like to be transported that way. You're also great at dialog, in case you don't know.

    Tricia, wonderful traits! I love lyrical voices. They're sort of hypnotic for me, and I can read those types of books by opening the page at any pint and just enjoying the rhythm. I'm trying to develop my skill of ending chapters well. I think that's also a great skill.

  21. What makes me shine? Furniture polish on my (growing) bald spots...that and writing comedy.

  22. Davin,

    This post was such a good idea! It makes me want to go out and read books by everyone who responded. And it is intriguing as well. Sometimes, we don't know the genre of our fellow commentors so this is really cool.

    As for me, I write things that are funny sometimes, even when I don't intend them to be. (Yes, I have made people chuckle at a funeral before....unintentionally, of course!)

    Scott-Dude, your eels rock! (Or, um, slither....!)


  23. Martin, very funny.

    Scott, why I oughtta...

    Shelley, Humor's a definite winner! This is no joke, I once read a story to the group that I thought was quite serious. One member laughed after the first little joke, and as a result, the whole group thought the entire thing was funny. I'll never forget that. It was actually cool to see how one reaction could completely change the mood of the story.

  24. Hooray for strengths! I've been told by writers and authors that I have a strong YA voice and my dialogue is great. I won't tell you what I have to work on, because I'm trying to be positive. =)
    Great post!

  25. Carolyn, Thanks! Yes, I intentionally didn't ask what everyone needed to work on. There's always time for that. It's important to sometimes just focus on the strengths! Dialog and voice are great ones!

  26. I don't think this is very unique, but often, when I write something good and people read it, they say it made them cry. As a writer, I think that's cool.

    I hope my writing makes people stop and think and change for the better in some small way.

  27. Davin, hmm, pointers for writing good dialogue... I suppose practice, as I tend to write a lot of dialogue when I feel to lazy to describe anything. Also, I have a lot of conversations in my head with people (real people--I mean, the people in my head aren't real, but it's with people I know), and I think that helps.

    Thanks for the suggestions on funny and literary. I'll check them out. I did think Lolita was very clever.


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