Strengthening Our Storytelling: Midweek ROW80 check-in

I’m always awestruck when I go to the symphony. The idea that a composer could hear all of those different instruments in his or her head and find a way to combine them all that’s both unique and pleasing just fascinates me. And then, one day, I realized that as writers we do the same thing.

As a writer, we can’t just be good at one thing. For example, I’m excellent at description, at bringing a setting to life with concrete details. But it’s not enough for me to excel at setting and sensory detail. I have to be able to make each character unique, to make my hero and heroine relatable and sympathetic, to create tension and suspense in every scene, to write dialogue that sparkles, a plot the surprises, a romance that makes the reader swoon. Just like a composer has to be able to write for strings and woodwinds and percussion, we have to be good at every aspect of the writing process or the story as a whole won’t work.

I try to pick a couple things in each WIP that I can focus on strengthening. For my current WIP, for instance, I’m focused on writing more compelling dialogue and upping the romance factor. I feel like in previous stories love has come too easily for my characters. In this story, I really want them to have to work for it, for the reader to wonder how these two will ever overcome the obstacles to be together. It’s still romance, so a happily ever after is a given, but I don’t want the road to the HEA to be all sunshine and roses.

ROW80LogocopyLastly, a midweek ROW80 check-in (short and sweet)…

So far this week I’ve written 1,389 words in “The Hedgewitch’s Charm.” This story is challenging me in so many ways, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

And I’ve read one chapter in “Dialogue” by Gloria Kempton.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop.

What about you? What are some of your strengths as a writer? What aspects of writing don’t come as easily, and how do you strengthen those aspects of your storytelling?

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at

18 thoughts on “Strengthening Our Storytelling: Midweek ROW80 check-in

  1. Like you, I work on making my writing better. One task I feel I’ve achieved was finally doing details right. Now, I work on avoiding needless double sentences, where I describe a thing two ways. Though that’s mostly an edits thing, I’m trying to stop myself from doing it first place when I can.

    Great job so far! You’ll definitely have an awesome round (even with all the move stuff)!

    1. Some stuff it’s easy to attack when revising. I try to avoid word echoes, awkward phrasing, etc., but some sneak through on the first draft anyway. It’s definitely easier to practice not making some errors in the first draft–then you can focus on big-picture stuff in subsequent drafts. I figure if I write strong dialogue and keep the tension high in the first place, my second drafts will be even stronger. But when my inner perfectionist rears her head, I still have to remind myself of that quote: “Don’t get it right. Get it written.”

  2. I find it challenging to write emotions in a way that’s not “telling,” trite, or overused (by me or others). In my current book, I was working on getting this stuff in without letting Internal Editor in along with it!

    1. That’s a tough one, too. On first drafts it’s difficult to balance challenging ourselves as writers with keeping the Internal Editor at bay. Sometimes I have to just let the writing spirit take over and fix things later. But I’m still trying to grow with each WIP.

  3. I can write dialogue forever–but the reader has no idea where the people are or what they look like! I love it that you’re challenged by what you’re writing, yet excited to see where it goes.

  4. I have issues with being long-winded in my descriptions and info dumping through dialogue. I feel like I do well with dialogue, but even that needs some cleaning up. I didn’t realize that I needed a lot of fine tuning as a writer until someone brought it to my attention. Now I’m trying to find ways to improve and sharpen my skills.

    1. I have the same problem. On the first draft, I throw in every detail I can think of. Then on the second draft I’ll break up large chunks of description or delete anything that’s unnecessary or repetitive. It’s just my approach.

      Info dumping in dialogue is tricky. I write fantasy and often I’ll have one character who’s a newcomer to the fantasy world, and the other characters are explaining that world to her or him. So I face the same problem. How do I get that info across–so my reader can understand the world and my character can act in it–without data dumping? It’s tricky.

      I think it’s great that you’re challenging yourself to grow as a writer. We can always take our work to the next level, and it sounds like that’s what you’re doing.

  5. Ironically, perhaps, I tend to really shine at the dialogue and the relationships, and struggle more with those setting details, actions, and the like. My first draft characters often interact in non-settings – those seem to come to me long after the interactions do…

    But, like you, I’m aware of it, and getting better at it even though it’s not as intuitive as the dialogue is. And I do much better in subsequent drafts. =)

    Between us, we’ve got the bases covered! =D

    1. Shan Jeniah, you’ll have to give me some pointers. I’m working on giving each character a unique voice when they speak–I’m fine when I’m in their heads, it’s when they’re speaking that they need to be more distinctive. I think it’s okay that settings come to you later. That’s just your process, and you can really make the setting come to life in later drafts. It’s good to focus on growing in one or two areas with each story we write, though. That’s part of the fun, I think.

      1. It might be a matter of personality. Even as a very small girl, I was fascinated in people’s interactions, in the ways they expressed themselves, their favorite phrases and intonations, gestures, facial expressions when they spoke, tenor of their voices…

        So, as scenes begin to come to me, it’s very often first through a bit of dialogue, and the way it’s delivered.

        When I’m truly in a character’s head, their voice rolls out very naturally – their outer voice, the one other people hear, is always an extension of their inner voice and dialogue…not always the same, but holding the same character, if you see what I’m rather clumsily trying to say…

        There’s a scuba magazine, Alert Diver, whose slogan is “A good diver is always learning.”

        I think that’s equally try in writing. A good writer is always learning, always striving to be a bit better.

        Here’s to the adventure of improvement! =D

      2. Good points. I like what you said about about how a character’s voice rolls out naturally when you’re truly in his/her head. I will keep that in mind as I write. Thanks!

      3. When I revise, I can clearly see where I was with them, and where I wasn’t. Day and night….

        Happy to be able to offer something you might be able to use! =D

  6. It is a continual battle to improve and i suspect perfection is never attainable – but the trying for it is kind of interesting- all the best:)

    1. I don’t expect to ever be perfect. There are very few writers who are–the greats, like Jane Austen or William Shakespeare. Most of us will always have areas we shine in and areas we struggle with. But you’re right. Trying to improve keeps things interesting! Thanks, Alberta!

  7. I am so glad I didn’t miss this post Denise. What a great illustration. We as writers are in our own way conducting an orchestra but with different instruments. And as the conductor, we know what section is weak and needs work. So true girl. I love how you’re able to pull your work apart. That is so important. And a great reminder for me to do the same. Thus, my editing and rewrites continue. 🙂

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