To be a successful writer and get noticed, being good often isn’t good
enough. You have to shine. You have to have something that puts you above all
others. Of course though, nobody is perfect. Everyone has faults and flaws. But
everyone has talents and abilities too. What’s your talent?
Find your talent and focus on it. Develop it. Showcase it in your writing so
it really shines through. Remember, one thing that stands out is far easier to
notice than ten things that are good, but not great. Make sure your best skill
Stacey’s Story: Start With Something Special
I had my breakthrough while taking a break from writing. I was watching the
movie Bring it On and decided to watch the bonus features. One of them was an
interview with the director and he talked about how the screenplay got noticed
because it opened with the cheer song. That stood out, that got their attention,
that made them want to read the rest. I decided to take the same approach. I
took chances with the start. I started with a letter, a poem, a snippet from a
diary. It must have made the difference because with that one change, a
manuscript that had been rejected 14 times got purchased. –Stacey, Novelist
Carmen’s Story: Use Your Strengths
I was told by my teachers and by readers that my dialogue was really strong.
So I decided to stop hiding it away and I put it right out front. I made the
first chapter of my novel almost all dialogue. It got the attention of an agent,
who has since told me that the individuality of the first chapter told him that
he had found a new writer with a clear sense of style. He took me on and is now
trying to sell that sense of style to publishers. Even better for me, he’s not
just trying to sell my first book, he’s trying to sell me as the next new thing,
a young writer to look out for! –Carmen, Novelist
Editor Says: “Forget Modesty”
Writing is not a business where you can afford to be modest. You have to get
in there and show what you’ve got. Whatever you do better than everyone else,
show it off. Build your work around your best skill. Otherwise, you’re going to
be lumped in with the rest of the writers that are good, but don’t stand out.
Editor Says: “I’m Looking for One Thing”
Many writers make the mistake of trying to show me everything they do well.
Forget it. I’m glancing at hundreds of manuscripts a day. To catch my attention,
you have to hit me between the eyes with one strong point that I can’t not
notice. There will be time later to show me your other strengths. For the first
contact, focus on making one clear point about yourself and make it a good one.
Susan’s Story: Is it Really a Flaw?
In the early days of Susan’s career, everyone advised her that she relied on
dialogue too much. So she cut out the dialogue. She kept writing but found her
work lacked energy. Years later, she decided to ignore all the advice. The novel
came naturally to her and it was almost all dialogue. The book reviews praised
her unique style and voice. Susan learned her lesson—never suppress what comes
naturally to you. Remember, what comes naturally to you might be your greatest
gift, not your greatest flaw.
Top Six Ways to Find Your Strength
1. Ask other people what stands out about your work.
2. Read some of your best work and make a list of what makes it good.
3. Read through the contents of a book about writing and ask yourself if
there is an area you are good at.
4. Think about what other people have said about your work. Are there any
comments that keep being repeated?
5. Ask yourself what you care about when you write.
6. What do you like about other people’s work? Often the things you notice in
other people’s work are also the things that you are good at.
About The Author
This article contains a tiny portion of the great advice Shelley Wake learned
when she interviewed hundreds of editors and writers for “Kick-Start Your
Writing Career.” The book is packed with smart, practical, proven methods
guaranteed to get you noticed, get you published, and get your career moving.
This article was posted on October 12, 2005