Have you ever heard of a thing called positive psychology? I just learned about it today. Positive psychology is, as I understand it, a great therapy based on building strengths and thinking positively. The people who came up with it thought that psychology should be more than just a focus on problems. They believe in a balance between troubleshooting our weaknesses and maximizing our strengths. I think it’s a wonderful concept. Why not continue working with what you’ve already got instead of desperately trying to conjure up a characteristic that’s just not in your nature?
So, I got to thinking about a writer’s skills and I wondered what were my skills? I came up with the following categories:
Theme: Is the theme fluid throughout the story? Is the theme universal?
Plot: Is the plot structured well? Is the reader clear on what’s happening? Is the story compelling? original? Is the story paced correctly for maximum effect?
Descriptions: Of characters? Of setting? Of action? Are they from the right perspectives? Are you showing not telling? Or are you telling in a compelling way? Are you flooding your writing with too many adjectives/adverbs? Is everything important/relevant to the story?
Language: Too many big, unnecessary words? Are you using the right words?
Voice: Is there one loud and present voice throughout the story?
Time and Place: Is the setting being used appropriately? Does it bring out plot, action, and character?
Conflict: Are the obstacles believable? Is there depth to antagonist? Are the stakes high enough for the reader to care about the character?
Character(s): How well have your characters been developed? Is there depth? How interested is the reader? Is their purpose/desire made clear? What about relationships with others? Is the dialogue intriguing and fluff-free? Are the conversations natural? Believable?
What are your strengths and how can you work on them further?
As of yet, I’m not really sure what my strengths are. When I write with confidence, I usually have a steady and strong voice. When I write with a foundation/outline, I usually structure my plot well. My strengths are dependent on a number of factors. I think I can say that I am generally an original writer. I’ve heard that from a bunch of my readers and I’m definitely okay with taking their word for it.
But then there are other things to consider: Do I write everyday? Do I read everyday? Do I finish stories? Hm… no. But! I’m going to force myself to not focus on that. Let’s see if this positive psychology thing works…