We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Someone might be great at dialog and not so great at description. Or, someone might be great at description and not so great at structure. The obvious approach as we try to become better writers is to strengthen our weaknesses. I, for example, didn't like how I was handling structure, so I've been researching standard structures, mainly from reading screenwriting books. But, then, I started thinking about voice and what makes voice unique. What if part of what made my voice unique was the fact that my story structures were odd?
A giraffe is a cool animal, not because it is skinnier than an elephant. A giraffe is cool because it's got a super-long neck and an amazing heart that allows it to pump blood up that neck. If I were to be impressed by a giraffe, it would be because it was really tall, not really fat. In fact, I'd probably be less impressed by a fat giraffe. An elephant, on the other hand, is cool partly because it is so fat. That's why we're impressed when it can stand up on its hind legs, or balance on a ball. In other words, each of these animals is cool because of its unique characteristics, and if all animals developed features that made them equally good at everything, they would end up being less interesting as a whole, some featureless brown blob like a cardboard box with fangs.
Though I'm NOT saying that we should wallow in our weaknesses, I think a valid approach to creating unique work is to exploit our strengths to compensate for our weaknesses. Someone who is bad at dialog could write a brilliant book that contains no dialog. Someone who is bad at description could write "Hills Like White Elephants." (Yes, that's a joke.)
With this mindset, a good book can be represented by a pie chart. Some good books will have very even pie slices, where each slice represents a component of writing such as description, character, dialog, pacing, transitions, emotion, intensity etc. Other good books might have only three really big slices--character, emotion, and intensity. That doesn't necessarily mean that it is a less impressive book. It just means it has the potential to be unique.
Is this crazy? Am I wrong? Do you have weaknesses that might actually allow you to write a more unique book?
AND, we wanted to mention that writer Roz Morris is giving away FREE copies of the pdf of her book, Nail Your Novel. We checked it out and think it's a solid resource for beginning writers. Check it out!
DOUBLE AND, Tess Hilmo sold her novel, With A Name Like Love!!!!!!!