As an editor, I truly wish more authors knew it was okay to focus on their strengths. So much craft advice encourages filling in the gaps in our writing skills. Learn how to avoid soggy middles! Craft a brilliant first line! Create dynamic characters, not static ones! And if you know my subtips, you know I am a huge supporter of learning great craft. But a really vibrant skill in one area can outshine an gap elsewhere.
Gaps in our writing skills can be book killers. But these days especially, the market is looking for strengths. What do you do that’s wild and knew and beautiful? Build a book around it. Plot a book around it. Maybe you’re a genius at describing guinea pigs. Lean into that! Plot around it!
If you’re so real and funny and nuanced with dialogue, take it to the max. Concept the book around the gutting things people say to each other. Plot me a magic system built on the power of words. Make the words visual, life-changing. Make us see words in a new way.
And completely aside from what the market wants, readers often care so much more about what a book does so well they can’t quit talking about it. They’ll often forgive so many weaknesses in a story if completely immerses them through a beautiful strength.
Unfortunately, the publishing industry often teaches writers that we aren’t as good as we think we are. We’re wrong about our gaps and our strengths. Maybe this breeds humility, but maybe it also breeds insecurity. We often end up not knowing ourselves as writers, partially because of that. If you not sure of your strengths, ask other writers. Ask a few readers and librarians. Get to know your own writing. Dig into what fills you with joy about it. Think of what your favorite writers are great at, and see if it’s a strength you share.
Usually, though, if we’ve been writing for a while, we DO come to know what we’re good at. We’re just nervous to claim it.
So please, friend, claim your strengths. Lean on them. Trust them. Write your strengths with bravery and confidence. That can make all the difference.