Reply To: Take notes! Ask questions!

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Ellen Saunders

… failure…as…roadmap?

Huh. I can see that in my writing but I don’t apply it to my LIFE. That’s a rich vein of thought to explore.

I get dinged a lot in critique for not having physical descriptions (I can’t see your characters), and I’ve been thinking that’s because I see my characters as psychological beings first, and their exterior cases don’t interest me as much. But I just remembered that when I *started* writing descriptions I’d do the cliched thing: “the man was wearing dark blue jeans, a yellow dress shirt with a white undershirt sticking out, and his dark brown eyes smiled in welcome above a strong chin.” Stilted and told readers very little about the character. So I stopping describing at all and went totally into the characters’ heads.

I saw that failure as an indication of what I needed to learn (how to describe a character via their actions, emotions and attitudes). Given the feedback I’m getting, I’m close enough to that now I need to go back and figure out how to add in physicality. (And how to start a story using both).

Writing failures can be repetitive without feeling (too much) like they are insurmountable. It’s a series of skills to learn and practice. But I’ve tended to view repeat failures in *life* (outside of school) as things I’m not only not good at, but will *never* be good at. Innate holes in who I am. So … failure as roadmap feels like a very helpful lens. Thank you.

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