My penmonkey evaluation

A couple of days ago on his blog, author and blogger extraordinaire Chuck Wendig posted what he called a penmonkey evaluation—a chance for writers to self-evaluate. I thought it was an interesting exercise so decided I’d do it here. If you decide to evaluate yourself too, please post your blog link in the comments. I’d love to see how others fare.

PenmonkeyWhat’s your greatest strength/skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

Definitely my editing skills. I still have the same problems with being able to impartially view my own work as everyone else, but I think I produce a fairly clean initial draft.

At least grammatically—I make no guarantees as to content!

What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

Transition scenes can die in a fire. I try to avoid them if I can, because I struggle with them so much.

How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?


Isla’s Inheritance – scheduled for release with Turquoise Morning Press in around October 2014

Isla’s Oath – scheduled for release with Turquoise Morning Press in around January 2015

Lucid Dreaming – currently on the agent query world tour

Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

After considering all the wonderful advice I’ve received (minimise adverb use, avoid dialogue tags, etc), I couldn’t come up with just one thing I’d rate about the others.

Then I realised it was this, which I got from Mister Wendig himself.

“Just write.”

Writing your first novel is daunting. It’s a bit like mountain climbing solo, or at least what I imagine mountain climbing solo might be like. You have all these tools, and maybe some people to yell at you or inspire you, but you have to do the hard yards yourself. Each step can be torturous. There’s a risk of avalanches, and of being eaten by wolves.

But the feeling when you get to the top is ah-MAY-zing, and the next mountain you climb is just that little bit easier.

Even if you only manage to write 200 words in a session and it’s like squeezing blood from granite, that’s still another step forward.

Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

“The beginning is critical. If you don’t hook your reader, or that agent or editor, you’re screwed.”

This is not inherently bad advice. It’s actually very true. But where it tangled me up was when I was starting that mountain climb on my first book. I knew how critical the beginning was, and I felt from the start that mine had issues. I got so hung up on getting the beginning right that it took me a very long time—embarrassingly long—to move on with writing, you know, the rest of the book.

The reason this is bad advice is because I fixated on it at the wrong time: during drafting rather than editing. When you’re drafting, just draft.

One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

You can edit badly written words. You can’t edit a blank page.

Just write.

In other news, on Tuesday I was over at Marcy Peska’s blog, doing an interview about writing dialogue. Yes, I was talking about writing about talking.

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