Blessed be! For this week’s Twin Thursday, Rachel and I will be looking at our strengths and weaknesses in writing–the places where we excel and where we still need some work. It’s important to have an honest assessment of both so that you can write a story that nails your best points and camouflages your shortcomings. It also helps you pinpoint places to improve. Be sure to follow the link at the top right to Chicken-Scratch Plot to see Rachel’s list!


  1. Voice. The actual words that are said in dialogue and how, as well as the way the narrator communicates in their own mind. The voice and vocabulary of my characters tend to come to me pretty easily. I think this is because I tend to be a character-driven writer as opposed to plot-driven.
  2. Clarity of prose. There’s a balance between lyricism and precision in text. The way I heard it once described is to visualize your writing as a window. The former is a stained glass window, where the sentences themselves are a work of beauty, but they can obscure the story behind it. The other is a plain glass plate window. You don’t notice the glass; it’s simply there to let you see through it to the narrative. I tend toward the latter.
  3. Action sequences. I tend naturally toward a very spare style without a lot of exposition. This lends itself toward action scenes, at least the kind that I enjoy.
  4. Intercharacter conflict. Since I tend to think of villains not so much as bad guys as they are heroes in their own twisted story, I gravitate toward plots where the characters move at cross-motives to each other.
  5. Payoff. I love writing resolution scenes, the moment when all of the buildup comes to a head and you finally defeat the bad or die trying. When multiple threads smash together into the finale, when the thing you’ve been waiting for or dreading finally happens.


  1.  Blocking during conversations. I do often forget that, hey, these voices that are talking to each other also have bodies! As a result, I sometimes forget to let them move or fall back on the same handful of body language expressions and gestures.
  2. Lyricism and poetry. The flipside of having good clarity of prose is that evocative language often escapes me. I spend twenty minutes stretching for the exact right image that I want and, failing to find it, just recycle one from twenty pages ago.
  3. Sex scenes/physical intimacy. To be fair, I’ve rarely actually tried to write one! But that’s largely because they make me very uncomfortable. I’m not a prude, mind! I’m, surprisingly, a rather lewd, sex-positive person. But something about writing it… Just can’t do it.
  4. Setting details. I have a problem with leaving my characters in white space. I’ll say, vaguely, it’s a 19th-century bedroom. There’s an armoire, a writing desk, a bed, and a chair. What more do you want to know? As a result, I have to work much harder at actually drawing my setting for my readers, making sure they see it the way I do, and that it comes across clearly.
  5. Build-up. I hate doing it. It’s painfully boring to me, so I sometimes try to rush it. The problem is, this set-up work that I hate doing is a necessary evil if I want to get to my favorite part, the payoff. So I drag myself through it, trying to hope that it doesn’t read like I dragged myself through it, and usually end up jumping back and forth several times to make sure all the building blocks I meant to put down are actually there.



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