Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Strengthening Weak Areas in Your Writing

I'm writing a first draft. I'm not a fast drafter, and I'm not a revise-as-you-go writer either. I'm somewhere in between.

There are days when I have to glue myself to the chair in order to achieve my word count goal. I should have invested in superglue this week. Yikes. The first fifty pages are slow and torturous for me.

Each writing session starts with a review of the previous scene. Weaknesses glare at me. I tidy up the details before writing a new scene.

Here are the weaknesses I'm fighting in this book:

1. Boring, useless, overdone gestures/action beats (I fight this weakness in EVERY book!)

2. Piles of backstory

3. Not enough motion to ground the reader physically in the scene

Here's how I'm strengthening these weaknesses:

1. I keep The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale next to me so I can use better descriptors. Some of the action beats I just delete.

2. The backstory? I highlight any obvious sections and move them when I've written a scene they'd fit into.

3. I add movements within the scene so the reader has a better mental picture of what's happening.

Each book brings a new challenge. I'm constantly on the lookout for lazy writing. I've successfully strengthened my writing by actively trying harder.

The weaknesses I've made progress with over the years:

1. Setting the scene

2. Giving each scene weight with either a story goal/conflict/failure or an action/reaction/decision

3. Weaving the spiritual thread throughout the story

4. Balancing dialogue and introspection (my earlier manuscripts had tons of dialogue and not enough introspection for what the romance market requires)

I still have plenty of weak areas that will scream at me when I finish the draft and start revising, but it's good for my soul to fix what I can in the first draft.

By the way, many experts recommend you turn off your internal editor and just write the draft. I think that's really good advice for anyone who struggles to make progress on a manuscript. It just doesn't work for me.

When I've turned off my internal editor in the past, it created so much extra work because the story veered off and my word choices were lazy. I'd rather keep my internal editor on and write slower in the first draft. It saves me tons of work in the revising stage.

Works for me, but you have to find what works best for you. :)

If you're a writer, how do you fight your weaknesses? I'd love to hear your tips!

Have a terrific day!


  1. Love your post today, Jill. :) I have to turn off my internal editor to do the first draft. This time I kept a little yellow legal pad beside my computer, made notes there of spots I needed to revisit, or notes I'd need for consistency--then forced myself to forge onward. Now I'm going back with my notepad to redo some spots, nothing critical.
    Weakness: too wordy, too --ly, pet phrases, run-ons.
    LOVE my synonym finder! Keep my Chicago Manual of Style on hand also.

  2. I keep a cheap notebook next to me for notes! We're so much alike! Is it bad to admit I rarely use my Chicago Manual of Style? I have a hard time finding what I need in it. The organization doesn't make sense. :(


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