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Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Author Insight: Writerly Faults

What do you feel is your biggest writerly fault,
and how do you deal with it?

"My biggest writerly fault is probably my eagerness to finish the story that I am writing. I stick to a strict schedule, writing as much as I can every day because I’m so excited to get the story on paper. Sometimes, I rush through my writing, but I believe that that’s what the first draft is for. I’ve learned to write the first draft from the heart and the second, third, etc. from the head. As long as I get the story on the page, I can always edit it later." - Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"You're going to laugh after the past few questions, but it's lack of planning! LOL!" - Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of Sisters.

"Distraction haunts me. Strangle it, but unfortunately, there are unlimited members in the family of Distraction." - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

"I am a lazy, lazy procrastinator, and sometimes I need my husband to kick my but into gear in the morning with a firm shove and some strong coffee." - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theater Illuminata series.

"Writerly fault? You mean I'm not perfect? Ha. Actually, I think I can improve at everything. With each book, I want to get better in all areas - characters, plot, pacing, emotion, etc. You name it, I want to work on it. I don't mean for that to be a cop out, I just really think I still have so much to learn with all of it." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"Hah! I’m sure my editor and agent would give you a different answer, but, for me, I have a really hard time starting stories in the right place. Part of the reason my stories always end up so long (close to 100,000 words or over) in the first drafts is because I spend way too long trying to figure out how to get the action rolling. There’s really no way to deal with it besides just playing around and rewriting until you think you’ve hit upon the right tone and pacing." - Alexandra Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.

"Anxiety that I can't write every story that is in my head, combined with the anxiety that I can't write the story the way it is in my head. I deal with it by writing, every day. I sometimes work on multiple stories at one time." - Janet Fox, author of Faithful.

"I don’t think of myself—or any writer—as having faults so much as things to work on. One thing I’ve repeatedly had a hard time with is keeping the action going in the first quarter of the book. I can start with a bang, pick up speed in the middle and head toward the climax, but there’s always a huge headache getting to the active middle. I haven’t written enough novels to have a tried-and-true method for dealing with it, but for now, being patient with myself as I try, try again, is key." - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.

"Impatience. Wanting to push through before I understand exactly what I'm doing with a particular scene or character. I deal with this by taking my dog for a walk, to get myself physically away from the computer and to give my imagination time to flail around. (Flailing, apparently, is key.)" - Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.
"I am prone to self-doubt. As in, tons of it. I won't write for weeks because I think I'm a hack. Then, when I can't stand it anymore, I'll just start writing again (I cannot just not write). I'm not sure whether that's dealing with it or not, though." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"Making a sympathetic character *without* being lazy about it. It's easy to feel for a character who is an orphan or had some personal, horrific tragedy or is introduced to the reader while being nice to puppies and small children, but I find it a lot harder to make a normal, well-adjusted person be instantly likable. (What does this say about me...?) I struggle with how to show readers that this person is really worth hanging around for hundreds of pages...I still think this is one of my toughest hurdles, so I tend to read a lot and see how my favorite authors handle it." - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"My style is rather minimalist, and sometimes it’s too minimalist. I’m one of those writers who needs to add more than delete during revision; my fourth draft will typically be longer than my first draft." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.


"I lack patience. And I mean, I completely and utterly lack the ability to wait patiently for anything. It's made me crazy more than anything, but it also makes the people around me crazy. I think I need to try meditation." - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

"I am easily distracted by the internet. It's too tempting to check e-mail, peek into Twitter or Facebook or even check the weather. I know I just need to shut down the browser while I'm writing, but I haven't had the strength to do it." - Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart.

"I over think things, and try to put too much into the story. Once, my agent told me to take the braid out and throw my story into a ponytail. I loved that, and remind myself to throw it into a ponytail often!" - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.
"Distraction. I am so easily distracted, by twitter, by email, by blogs and facebook and goodreads and everything. I can spend hours online doing absolutely nothing. I’ve actually had to unplug myself from the internet while writing to keep Tweetdeck from chirping at me every two minutes." - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

I'm completely neurotic, which isn't so much a single fault as a horrifying lifestyle choice for me and everyone around me. Everything is agony or ecstasy, but usually agony and it's not until much, much later that I realize my best friend was right: this is not the end of the world. Of course she's right- because I'm neurotic, and I think EVERYTHING is the end of the world. The actual endtimes will probably take me by complete surprise, because I'm all wound up over whether the wording should be a can of mandarin oranges or a tin of mandarin oranges." - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

Come back Tuesday to find out what books have impacted these authors and why they love them!


  1. I love this entire Author Insight series of Q&A's! Thank you for putting this together. In today's edition, I particularly liked the advice Kristina McBride shared from her agent re: take the braid out & throw it into a ponytail. :)

  2. Congrats, you won an award on my blog you can check it out here!!! http://www.starshadowblog.com/2010/05/award-from-my-overstuffed-bookshelf.html

  3. This is the first of your series that I've read; I kinda keep marking them as unread in my Reader, then never go back to them because I have no time. But I absolutely love the idea and it's fantastic. I'm off to read the others you've posted and I can't wait for more to be put up!

  4. This is very interesting! It's choco by the way, I suppose you don't remember me but I'll be watching your blog from now on!

  5. Hi! I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for this post. I like hearing that even established writers have faults and struggles.

    I gave you an award today at my blog. :) http://wp.me/pBmxU-dw