Writing, at its essense, is a balancing act.

Friday, January 9, 2009
First of all, you must have the ability to craft a powerful/exciting/engaging plot.

I can teach grammar. I can teach writing. But at the essence of every writer, there has to be a natural storyteller. Because I can't teach it.

I tried. But saying, "Your story sucks," even as nicely as possible, doesn't usually get you very far.

Neither does, "Don't write again. Ever. Really."

Okay, I'm kidding. I would never say that to someone. But I have seen people that really didn't have the talent. They were like the awkward kids in gym class who couldn't even even run without falling, and yet they tried out for the sports teams.

Can they get better?


Can they ever reach a competitive level/publishable?

Probably not for 20 or so years.

So what separates the "best" writers from the "average" ones?


Like so many things in life, the best authors craft a story that is strong in ALL these areas:

1. Story--compelling storyline. This is what keeps the reader turning pages.
2. Grammar--when done right, this facilitates the reader's understanding and DOES NOT distract from the story.
3. Characters--balanced, real (as opposed to perfectly good or evil), and individual (as opposed to cookie cutter or indistinguishable)
4. Exposition--the story is revealed neither to quickly, leaving the reader confused, or too slowly, leaving the reader bored.

I could go on with this list (and feel free to add something you think of). Even expand on the ones already written, but I think this explains my point. Have you ever read a story that lacked in one of these areas? Or where one trait excelled to the point that it distracted from the others (the characters inner thoughts dominate to the point where you forget what the story is about).

Some authors, like my absolute favorite--Shannon Hale, are great writers that excel in one area . Shannon is a master at creating similes. BUT she's great at all the rest as well.

She's an example of a balanced writer.

And just in case your wondering, that's how you know if you've reached a publishable level.

If it's balanced.


  1. Great post, Amber! I agree with everything you have said.

    I also believe I am a balanced writer. And I can say that because I have taken a LONG time to get to "balanced." I still have a long way to go, but I think I'm on my way.

    I have also read stories where one or many of the points on your list was missing. It's nice to have this all laid out and organized so that I can pinpoint why something feels wrong now.

    Thank you!

  1. Marty said...:

    I would love to consider myself a "balanced writer" - I have only just begun to see myself as a "writer" at all. I still have a lot to learn, but I am grateful for the grammer teachers that I find on the web.

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