What’s Your Writing Super-Power? by Lindsay Bandy

Hello and happy holidays to all! I hope you are enjoying the festive madness of the season!

There is so much to celebrate this time of year, and we’re happy to extend congratulations to our lovely Co-Blog Coordinator, Lori Ann Palma, for getting a short story published with Lunch Ticket! You can read her awesome story, The Dead Girl, right here. And THANK YOU Lori Ann for all of your hard work. You’re doing an amazing job with the blog! It makes me so happy to celebrate the accomplishments of our members, so be sure to pass on any special news so we can cheer you on, too!


So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the areas of my writing that need improvement. We all have these areas, no matter how accomplished we are. Even Superman can’t handle that kryptonite – and sometimes those particular weak areas can cause us to get really stuck with our projects. *Lindsay raises hand*  One of the most important things you can do for your writing is to identify your areas of weakness and work toward improving them. But just as important is identifying your strengths…what you can play up to tell your story the best you possibly can. Just because Superman can’t function around hunks of glowing green rock doesn’t mean he can’t still freaking FLY!!

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(Not actually Lindsay)

So, what’s your superpower?

Being a writer is not one power; it’s a collection of skills, like a toolbox. In that toolbox are things like…

Sentence Structure/Grammar

Wordplay/Diction

Crafting effective scenes

Characterization

Dialogue

Plot structure

Portraying character emotion

Pacing

Planning the Big Picture

Editing (both the Big Picture and the Small Details)

Some of these things come more naturally to each of us than others. Are you really great at whipping up an exciting plot? YAY!! Portraying character emotion might be a struggle for you, but CELEBRATE the fact that you’ve got a darn good plot going on. Are you a grammatical wizard? Do you have a knack for fun wordplay that leaves your readers smiling and/or pleasantly tongue-tied? Can you do dialogue like nobody’s business? Before identifying your weaknesses, take a moment to celebrate your strengths. They’re just as real as your trouble spots, and they’ll carry you through the special story only YOU can tell. (If you’re not sure, try asking some of your critique partners. Be sure to point out what they do well, too!)

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(Not actual kryptonite)

What’s your kryptonite?

My Hunk of Green Rock happens to come in the shape of PLANNING THE BIG PICTURE.  I usually fly by the seat of my pants. I even like the mental image of flying by the seat of my pants….I mean, wings coming out of my back pockets, taking me wherever I want to go?!?! I’m so out of this Arctic Blast. Over-planning ruins the fun for me – whether we’re talking writing or throwing a party or going grocery shopping. The magic is in the moment for me (SUPERPOWER!!). I love the way words, dialogue, emotion, and the movement of a scene bloom out of my fingers and surprise me. I love editing and cultivating those lovely flowers. But then come times when I neeeeed to know what’s going to happen next in the story. I need to be able to move my characters toward something important – a plot point, a realization, a meeting. I need to least plan out those big moments ahead of time so I can make sure the smaller moments I love to create are all strung together cohesively. A gorgeous scene doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work as part of the whole! Part of my resolution is to finish reading more books, because I’m sort of picky and toss a lot of stories aside. Part of learning how to complete something well is to immerse myself in a completed product.

How about you? What’s your writing superpower? What’s your writing kryptonite? We’ve all got them. So, celebrate your superpower – it makes you awesome. Help your critique partners to identify and celebrate their strengths. Then, in a couple of weeks, start thinking about a plan for the New Year that involves strengthening your weaker muscles.

Here’s to becoming SUPER-ER together in 2017!

 

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10 Responses to What’s Your Writing Super-Power? by Lindsay Bandy

  1. Great post Lindsay, it reminds me of a workshop by Ammi-Joan Paquette at the 2015 Pocono Retreat “Choose Your Super Power.” I’ve thought a lot about this concept since then. Joan was talking about how different types of stories may better suit your Super Power: voice driven, character based, high concept (where plot takes center stage). She told us that our Super Power may be better suited to a particular genre.
    Like you, I love the spontaneity of writing a scene, the beauty of words and how characters blossom, but I have a harder time with the big picture. I think that’s why I’m drawn to picture books (no pun intended). With a PB, I can see the entire arc in one go. However, one thing that worked for me concerning plotting was when I wrote a PB/CB that evolved into a MG novel. The simpler format was my unintentional outline which let me build out the work into novel length. As it evolved into a novel I had more room to cultivate my garden of words and add characters to help move the story forward and affect my MC’s evolution.
    Kryptonite: I’m terrible at punctuation, but as Kristen advised I’ve been “teaching” myself the rules through reference books and my very patient critique partner.
    Super Power: Editing, I adore it!!! It’s like weeding.
    As for tooting our own horns I just had a poem published in the January issues of Highlights!!! MY PANTS KEEP GETTING SHORTER.

    • Kristen C.S. says:

      I’m so glad you mentioned the AJ Paquette workshop. I didn’t get to attend that one, but I really wanted to know what she said, and Lindsay’s post immediately brought it to mind!

      Kryptonite: Deepening my characters and knowing how it plays into the overall tension. Sometimes I can’t weed through all the description to get to the grit. You know?

      Super Power: Ideas! The idea seeds grow into plots…mostly fantasy which is surprising to me… and I have no time to keep up with them!

      P.S. Would love to read some of your work sometime, Chrissa. Will be looking for MY PANTS KEEP GETTING SHORTER, and hoping to end up in a CAT group together one of these days. =)

      • It’s funny, Kristen…I totally forgot about that title until you guys brought it up…must have been lurking in my subconscious! I was signed up for Joan’s workshop but switched to Heather’s at the last minute, where you and I got to chat! So it was win-win 🙂

    • Hooorayyyy, Chrissa! That’s awesome that your story’s going to be in Highlights! Thanks for sharing about your process and Joan’s workshop (I wasn’t in that one). I definitely improved with my grammar when I started working as a tutor….Kristen’s advice is solid for sure. Looking forward to many more happy announcements for YOU! Happy holidays 🙂

  2. PS – loved THE DEAD GIRL so visceral, nice work Lori 🙂

  3. Kristen C.S. says:

    Thank you for encouraging us to celebrate what we do right, Lindsay. I definitely forget to do this, but it’s so necessary if I’m going to do anything besides tread publishing water. =)

    • And you have SO much to be proud of – your writing is imaginative and lovely and has brought me to tears (in the best way). Plus, you’re an awesome teacher and mom. Holiday Hugs to you!!

  4. Nadine Poper says:

    My superpower would have to be my constant influx of manuscript ideas. I rarely struggle for ideas. But then the kryptonite comes hurling, full force, through space (my space) and makes landfall right on my writing desk! TIME! Or perhaps it is just time management. Yeah, that’s it! I think I have the time, but I don’t manage it well. I should just close myself up into an escape rocket, like baby Superman, and blast off somewhere.

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