Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Understand Weaknesses and Strengths in Writing

There are two types of innate, initial approaches to writing when starting out: the masculine way or feminine way. I call it that because it immediately attracts attention, being offensive as it is, and it is generally applicable to its attributed gender. Not necessarily, and not even "more often than not," but common enough for people to understand it.

The masculine approach is the big picture approach. It’s all about plot and the huge gestures. The feminine is all about the details and the atmosphere created.

People who aim towards the big picture write epic stories with huge battles and wars. The conflict is that the world will end if they don’t solve it. There are many characters and a giant scope. The appeal is all in the story. Superpowers, super weapons, ships, the great ocean, space, technology, and anything that will make it just that more intense are the important features to the writer. It’s all about the plot and everything being at the highest magnitude it can be.

For writers with the feminine mentality, it’s about the particulars. Characters, facial expressions, what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, how they’re doing it. The description of the house, the way Susie feels about Johnny. The world is specific and the people are real.

The best example is this tandem story.

(If the hyperlink doesn't work, just type "tadem story" on google.)

Note the difference between their two styles. He introduces the plot immediately, but his character and scene have hardly any personality.

Big Picture people tend to ignore the characters. It is likely there are so many individuals involved that the reader doesn’t connect or care about any of them. The world is not real; it’s vague and without good solid rules. Powers, though amazing, are ill defined. The writer doesn’t know exactly what the conventions are, so they subtly change to fit as the situation become more distinct. There’s no sense of location, the reader doesn’t get sucked into the world. It is likely that he doesn’t even care about the world, it’s that generic.

The detail-oriented stories, on the other hand, are boring.

Knowing which type the author leans toward will tell him what he has to work on. If he breezes through action sequences and the epic back story, and the climax is the most fun he’s had in the entire creation of the book, it probably means that the moment things calm down he has to get into the little things, he goes into a severe writer’s block. If his talent is coming up with a great story then he should work on exploring the world. If she’s fantastic at making wonderful characters, then she probably needs to focus on the ingĂ©nue’s conflict.

People start out with one tendency or another, and knowing that helps with understanding the unpolished areas of the work. Some have to try harder than others to practice their weak side due to the genre they need to write. Authors with feminine mentality can get away with romance novels without much concern for the big picture because romance novels are all about the atmosphere and not the story.

A writer who focuses on the plot should look for writing exorcises on characters, atmosphere, and descriptions. If she is an author who looks at detail, then she should find exorcises that oriented towards plot, conflict, and upping the ante.