Thursday, August 5, 2004

Weaknesses in writing

When I was shopping ALL I EVER WANTED around to agents, I got very helpful feedback from one particular agent. Among other things, she pointed out that although my writing is descriptive, I very rarely engage the sense of smell. I read through the manuscript and noticed she was right. I describe things visually, perhaps to excess, but I am very disinclined to ever describe how something smells. If I describe the way a guy smells in a first draft, I will usually use a vague descriptive phrase such as "his clean masculine smell." (Hey, at least he doesn't smell dirty. Or feminine:-). I am a very visual person, and I can see a story in my head quite clearly as I write it, but apparently I don't *smell* the story in my head.

But forewarned is forearmed. When I started revising STRANGER, I checked, and noticed that sure enough I was neglecting the sense of smell again. So I went through the book and patched up that particular problem by inserting small descriptions here and there. But it makes me wonder... what other obvious weaknesses are there in my writing that I don't know about? What am I missing? Everyone has blind spots. It helps that I have an in-house critique partner, but for all I know his blind spots are the same as mine-- after all, he's used to my writing, and he doesn't read romance otherwise.

This is one positive aspect of bad reviews and rejection letters... if you read them carefully, and without anger, they will frequently point out to you where the weaknesses in your writing are!


  1. You know, I actually LIKE having my weaknesses pointed out. I'm SO incredibly blind to my own problems, and that makes feedback vital for me. It might be painful to hear at times, but ultimately, feedback makes a difference!

  2. Yep, that's why I like having Mrs. Giggles review my books. She points out all my writing flaws... EVERY LAST ONE of them:-). Painful, but instructive!

  3. Ooh, you know, I think Mrs. Giggles is the one person I DON'T want reviewing my books! *g* I don't think I'm that tough! LOL

  4. I agree. Mrs. Giggles can definitely review my books. I luv that woman, she really keeps romance writers humble and that's always a good thing in my opinion. Seriously, the fact that you could read the editor's comment and then make a rational decision to go back and examine your manuscript is a POSITIVE move toward becoming the best writer you can and a published one, too, in NY. Personality is the biggest challenge to all writers. Most writers will not examine. They become defensive and bitter. I already see this on the RWClist. But I am an old woman here... Some writers make the journey by watching others from the sidelines and they are perfectly happy writers...and some of them are published in NY, too! Good luck and my best, Jane