Sunday, August 6, 2017

Writing – What Areas are You Strong In? Weak In?

By Karen Cioffi

Writing is such a unique journey for each and every writer.

Some find it easy to meld their chapters, one into another. Others find it easy to get just the right ending, with some kind of twist or surprise that gives it a great edge.

There are also other authors who find it easy to jump right into a story, writing a grabbing beginning.

No matter what aspect of the story, there will be some writers who can breeze though it effortlessly while others may struggle. That’s the nature of writing.

I find it relatively easy to start a story. I can create a beginning that jumps into the action, which is what most stories, especially children’s stories need.

But…yep, there’s a BUT… I often found it difficult to end my stories. I have no idea why. I can start it, bring it along toward an ending, but, then I fizzled out. My endings were initially weak and definitely lacking.

I first noticed my weak spot when I submitted a chapter book to 4RV Publishing. I pitched the story to the publisher during an online writers’ conference. The publisher allowed me to submit a synopsis and the first three chapters, which was also a bit lacking, but that’s another story.

The editor who read the chapters and synopsis liked the storyline, but was confused about my ending in the synopsis. As I mentioned above I have trouble with my endings. Aside from that, the editor recommended the publisher request the manuscript so they could look it over. They did advise I edit it first and work on the ending. I created an entirely new ending and sent it to a professional editor to be reviewed . . . and edited.

It’s funny, but I think there are at times some form of inspiration that can take us where we don’t usually tread...that helps us overcome our obstacles or mountains and take us beyond what we think we’re capable of.

In the case of my story, Walking Through Walls, I came up with a pretty good ending that tied everything together and afforded a surprise. I worked on this story for around two years and finally when it counted, I found the right path for the story to take.

We writers must pay attention to our writing weak spots and work on them. I was fortunate that an editor and publisher looked beyond my weak points and gave me the opportunity to improve my story. This is not always the case.

So, what’s a writer to do?

Well, the very basics are simple:

1. Make sure you’re a part of a critique group with new and experienced writers. The critique members may be able to help you over the hurdles. At the very least, they’ll catch a number of mistakes in everything from structure to grammar that you missed.

2. If you have to, write a few different scenarios in the section you’re having trouble with, to help you open up. And, if you’re still having trouble with your story, put it away for at least a week, preferably more, and then go back to it. It’s almost like magic; you’ll see it differently, with a newness and awareness. And, listen when inspiration comes knocking!

3. Read a lot of quality books in the genre you’re writing and even copy sections of them word-by-word. Make sure to include recently published books by top publishers. This is a trick to get your brain to think and write ‘good writing.’ Just be sure to only do this for practice purposes. Never, ever use someone’s work as your own – that’s plagiarism.

4. Practice your writing – hone your craft. I’ve gotten better at my endings through working and practice. This is why there’s a saying, “practice makes perfect.” Well, if not perfect, at least much better!

5. If nothing else works, hire a developmental editor or ghostwriter to help rewrite the sections you’re having difficulty with.

So, the tips of the day: Pay attention to where your writing weak spots are and work on them. You have options to help you get your story right.

And, listen when inspiration comes knocking!

So, back to the title of the post: What's your writing forte?

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.

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