Aug 16, 2013

A Writer's Most Important Trait

I know I haven't been doing this very long, at least not with official author credentials, but I have a couple bits of advice to share, so I'm gonna share them!

You can find a million blogs/websites online that tell you how to be a good writer, and I'm sure they all have nuggets of juicy and valuable wisdom. Some folks will rightly claim that having a great imagination is what you need to be a good writer. I don't disagree. Creativity will take you far. Others may say that you just need determination and to practice your craft, and eventually you'll get there. I slightly disagree with that, but on the whole, I think it's great advice.

But the thing is, if you want to write romance where emotion is king, the most important trait you can have is Empathy. If you can't really put yourself into someone else's shoes(which does take imagination, sometimes a lot of it!), then you can't be a selling romance writer. Not until you learn how. And really, all good fiction is character driven, so I believe this applies across the genre divides, but unequivocallyin romance.

I think the empathy level of romance writers is higher than average and that's why the romance writing community is so supportive, but there have been some instances(in the past couple months mostly) that have made me want to shake a baby author and say... Imagine it was you before you ________.

This even goes past writing and into the professional persona you have to craft. Everyone wants to work with folks who are easy to work with. Authors want to work with editors who are easy to work with. Editors want to work with authors who are easy to work with. Dairy cows want to work with farmers who have soft hands... and therefore are easy to work with!

Scared bunny
I say this with all love: Most writers(me included) at heart are a bunch of neurotic, paranoid, baby rabbits with a crack addiction. Great imaginations mean we're Great Worriers. There may be no snarling beagle cornering us, staring us down with those pointy teeth and floppy ears of DOOM... but we can picture it! So the fear is very real. The fear of submitting. The fear that our submission has been lost/ignored/destroyed-by-internet-gremlins... The fear that the editor hates our story(AND US!) and just can't find a nice way to tell us to stop with all the submitting already! The fear that our new editor is lamenting being saddled with us and our questionable writing skills...(Did you see my windmill arm flailing a couple weeks ago?)

Stop. Put that bunny back in his hutch and take away his lunch money.

Empathy. Empathy. Empathy. Empathy. Empathy. Empathy. Empathy.

That is all :)


  1. Excellent post and excellent advice!

  2. Thank you, Michelle. it's advice I struggle to take myself sometimes--specially when the doubt crows are circling... I know I can't be the only one :-)


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