All writers have different strengths and weaknesses. All writers also wish they had at least one talent that they haven’t yet been able to master. If they say they don’t, they are lying to you.
It’s sort of like choosing your ideal superpower. Flying or invisibility? World building or dialogue?
Now I sort of know my strengths, and I am brutally aware of my weaknesses. But today, I am going to discuss some skills and aspects I wish I could – and will continue to try – to implement in my own writing.
I wish I’d written each of these books for several different reasons. But for the sake of this blog – and so I don’t descend into some serious fangirl gushing – I am going to focus on one specific aspect of each which I envy.
#1 – The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
So it should surprise no one that this is on my list… Which – of the many – fantastic things am I going to rave about today? Rowling’s mastery of small details.
EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. in these books has a reason from the significant names that give big hints to the characters who hold them, the minutiae that come back to be giant plot points later or even the fact that the entire series is one big allegory…
If I choose for a tree to be an elm over an oak, it’s because I played eeny meeny miny moe. If Rowling chose, it would be because elms are a symbol of Mother Earth and strength, and that would somehow be incredibly important three books later.
#2 – The Girls by Emma Cline
People either seem to love or hate Cline’s prose, but I find myself firmly in the former camp. My writing may be clear and entertaining, yet sometimes I wish I could spin a few deeper and prettier paragraphs like hers.
Oh, and I’d love to have that million dollar book advance, too.
#3 – A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas
Holy world building, Batman! From the moment you begin reading the first book, you feel like you are walking right next to each character on their journey through Prythian. Creating a fantasy world has always been something I’ve dreamt of, but creating an entire universe out of thin air is hard, guys.
The best part about Mass’ series? There are no long paragraphs of explanation or big chunks of description. Every detail comes effortlessly, and when you’re done reading, you just can’t quite understand why you can’t jump on a plane and go for a visit. It’s a real place, isn’t it?!
#4 – The Shack by William P. Young
Lots of books have overarching themes, but I’ve never read one that was both obvious yet unforced. Without feeling like the author is shoving it down your throat, Young’s novel presents the ideals of Christianity in new, exciting ways – God is represented as a large, black woman for goodness’ sake – and it slowly becomes as meaningful to the readers as it is for the characters.
#5 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I am a huge sucker for happy endings, but a satisfying but unhappy ending is sometimes the best fit for the story. But how can I do that to my characters?! If I’d written Gatsby’s story, he would have dumped that snit Daisy and ended up with some hot and fabulous woman who loved him even if he lost all his money.
#6 – The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
If you haven’t read these books yet, get ready to swoon. The romance between a 18th century Scottish Highlands warrior and a slightly older, married to another man, nurse from 1945 is an unlikely one. But that’s part of what makes it so great, and the way these characters grow with each other, learn from each other, and fight for each other is astonishing and not at all cliche like so many fictional relationships out there.
I haven’t quite nailed that perfect romance in my own writing yet. Maybe I need to journey back in time and meet a strapping Scottish man… You know just for experience’s sake…
#7 – Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The worst feeling when you read a book is knowing that the same idea was somewhere inside your brain. That’s how I felt while reading the Gone Girl writer’s lesser known novel. I have this weird thing where words get stuck in my head, and I have to split them up into equal columns and trace them on my skin to get rid of them. (Please no one call the loony bin on me.)
Who knew that all I had to do was add a razor blade and a few other crazy people to have a bestseller? If only I’d written it first…
What are you writing strengths and what do you wish you could do better? Let me know in the comments below!