The world of writing is so broad and flooded that finding your voice in the sea of others can be intimidating. I’m constantly trying to decipher what is unique about my own writing style and what I need work on. When it comes to criticizing myself I can find numerous issues that need improvement and tend to focus on those as opposed to my strengths; a common problem that leads many artists down the path of destruction but instead of allowing this tendency to destroy me I thrive on it.
I know that my abilities to write dialogue and individual character connections is pretty developed but in contrast world building is my kryptonite. My stories and those that I love best from other authors are generally built around the characters and their journey as opposed to their universe. It sounds nice but when you get into detailed descriptions they need consistency and material ideals around them to take shape. Because of this my own ability to paint a picture of the scene around my story is lacking. Something odd being that I have a photographic memory and a huge colorful imagination.
Instead of dwelling on my deficiencies I acknowledge them and try to improve through exercises and experience. Nothing helps a person describe a world better than knowing our own. Getting out and hiking, swimming, throwing myself into new situations helps immensely. When I get back home and sit down I can more accurately portray what I’m trying to translate in words.
There are some creative writing exercises that also help. Like free writing periods, or going somewhere and just jotting down everything you experience through your senses: the smells, sounds, sights, tastes, the feeling of it all. Each story needs to have life and there’s no better way to breath it into your work than by living your best.
In my case, once I get my ideas kindled I have to outline at least the main points of the story. Some people like to let their ideas take shape without a guide, but more often than not I have to have my own hand drawn map. Some outlines are detailed, complete with character descriptions and life stories, whereas some have been just a few actions that will take place along the way. All that really matter is that my story is clear and concise for the reader.
Hopefully this system will continue to encourage me to develop as a writer and my words may help others along the way.