Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Today’s RTW Question from YA Highway: What are your writing and publishing superpowers? And what’s your kryptonite?

What a great question—and I love seeing how writers have so many different strengths and weaknesses. Something I struggle with might be someone elses strongpoint…and something that is a piece of cake for me might be what a well-respected published author really has trouble with. A conversation like this is a great way to put everything in perspective.

My superpowers:

World-Building: I love creating worlds. I played pretend in my backyard or with barbies in the basement until I was way too old, because it was a way for me to create landscapes and rules and wonderfully rich worlds. When I started writing instead of playing dress up my desire to create worlds was a driving factor. And I know the world of my WIPs so well—I have street maps of the capital city of Coracus and can tell you the best way to travel through the crooked streets from the herbalist’s to the main square; I have demographic maps of the kingdom of Harren; I have physical maps of the entire continent; I have family trees that go back ten generations for the royal family, the Cymberlys. All these documents help inform the world when I’m writing so that it becomes rich, lush, and real. Having consistent rules for your world is one of the most important factors in making that world seem real and these documents help me make sure everything is aligned.

Plotting: I can come up with a plausible basic plot so quickly and it’s easy for me to outline the major events of my novel. The sub-plots and sub-sub-plots that add layers to my stories, not so much…

Reading and Critiquing: I sure hope I’m good at this, because it’s my job working in the editorial department! Reading multiple manuscripts a week I’ve learned to quickly tell what the strengths of the work is, what needs improvement, and offer feedback on the best way to make it the best book it can be.

Industry Awareness: Again, working in the publishing industry helps me keep on top of trends and frequently networking with the best agents and editors out there. This comes in handy during both the writing process, but even more so, querying and beyond.

My Kryptonite:

Characters: The characters I write are so vivid in my head—they’re alive, strong, flawed—but I’ve yet to learn how to make that come out on paper. This is my biggest weakness since most YA novels nowadays are character-driven, and if the agent/editor/reader doesn’t relate to the character they’re likely not to read, or like, the novel.

Romance: This relates to the first point; if I can’t make my characters come alive, it’s really difficult to build a relationship full of longing, steamy scenes, and heartbreak. Again, 99% of YA has to have a compelling romance, so this is a really important point I’m working on.

Sub-plots: Like I said before, the bare bones plot comes to me easily, but when it comes to adding depth to the novel I really have to push it. Each major revision I’ve done to my WIP The Rose of Coracus has included adding another layer to the plot for more depth and richness.

Spelling and grammar: You would think that someone who was a Creative Writing major and works in the editorial department at a publishing house could spell. And would know proper grammar. But that’s what spell check and copyeditors are for! I couldn’t do without them!

What are your writing superpowers? What’s your downfall?


  1. Can I get a hoo-rah for world building? Love that stuff! I envy your mapmaking abilities, though--I'm a good artist, but I don't have the patience to do maps. >.<

    And I'm right there with you on romance. My CPs are always nudging me for more, but sometimes I'm stuck between wondering if my story doesn't have enough, or if it has just enough for the sort of story I'm writing.

  2. I also played pretend and Barbies way past the average age--must be a writer thing! I have to agree that you have a world-building super power. :)

  3. I am SO with you on the spelling and grammar thing! Especially grammar. I was an English minor, and I used to be on point with allll of it. But then when I started really taking writing seriously, the stories flowed and the grammar rules just... kind of slipped away somehow in the process. Not all of them of course :) But still.

  4. Ally Condie does a great job of minimal subplots. So there is hope out there! :)