The Biggest Weakness

Randy Ingermanson, in his blog post at Advanced Fiction Writing, said something profound yet beautifully simple: “The life of a novelist is about continuous improvement. You will NEVER arrive. You will never be perfect. The trick is to identify your biggest weakness and work on it until it’s no longer your biggest weakness.”

Wow. That’s heavy. In the last month or so, I’ve been working on my dialogue tags, trying to remove unnecessary ones. I think I’ve about mastered that. So now, I ask myself, what’s my new biggest weakness?

That’s a no-brainer, since I’ve struggled with this for years: imagery.  

One of my writing friends, Melody, has the spirit of a poet. Her fantasy fiction sparkles with beautiful imagery. Her word choices are exquisite. Her scenery jumps off the page, making me feel like I’m there. And I’ve noticed, in speaking with her, that it all just flows naturally that way from her brain. She’s lyrical. Imaginative. Poetic.

I’ve not been blessed with that type of gift. I’m a Vulcan. I see things in logical progression, with proper motivations, plot lines and subplot lines weaving in and out of each other. Scenery and imagery is incidental, especially in my first draft. Once I’ve got all the action, suspense, and character development thoroughly laid out, then I have to go back and add in the scenery, the sensations, the metaphors and similes that make the story hop off the page. I easily identify the patterns, mirrors, and moods I need to establish; then I struggle to add the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. 

I’m pleased that I can identify my greatest weakness. Now I’ll follow Randy’s advice and work on it until something else takes the title “biggest weakness.”

-Sonja
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