RTW: Wonder (Writing) Woman

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Today’s Topic: What are your writing/publishing superpowers (drafting? plotting? writing queries?) — and what’s your kryptonite?

This is SO me!

This is such a tough question–especially the superpower element! Why do I have such a hard time pinpointing my strengths?

I suppose my writing superpower would be in the details. I’m a big description girl. I think I excel at painting a picture with words and really helping my readers to envision exactly who or what I’ve written about. I often find my first drafts so FULL of descriptions and sensory details that I end up having to go through and hack big chunks of them. Sometimes I probably don’t cut enough; someone once told me it was almost as if an attic I’d written about had become a character in and of itself, thanks to the million-and-one details I’d included. Still, I’d rather write too much and have to edit later than struggle with descriptions and ways ground my readers in a scene.

As far as kryptonite goes, mine definitely involves stakes and tension. I have such a hard time increasing the pressure, torturing my characters the way they need to be tortured to craft an engaging, exciting page-turner. My natural instinct is to make things easy for my characters (I love them!), not harder, and that seems to be the critique I get most often: Up the stakes, bump the tension up a notch. Believe me… I’m working on it!

Tell me… what is your writing superpower? Your kryptonite? And don’t forget to visit YA Highway to see how the other Road Trippers answered today’s question!


35 thoughts on “RTW: Wonder (Writing) Woman

  1. Christa says:

    Yep, you are the yin to my yang. I could flip your post over exactly and that’d be me. That’s why I’m hanging on to you, Katy;)

    • katyupperman says:

      Glad I’m not alone, Juliana! No one wants to read about sunshine and rainbows, but it’s just so hard to torture these people I’ve developed and grown to love. I’m getting better though, and discovering that it can actually be sort of fun. 🙂

  2. Sophia Richardson says:

    Sensory details are definitely good, and I think being naturally inclined to include them is a rare skill, hence all the posts on the internet about adding the other senses to scenes. Stakes and tension (plotting generally, sigh) is also one of my, ahem, many weaknesses.

    • katyupperman says:

      Glad I’m not alone, Sophia. I find that the more detail I start with in a plot outline, the easier it is to make things really hard for my characters. If I just float my way through a first draft, there’s very little tension.

  3. Sara McClung says:

    Man, description is hard for me–I’m usually the opposite of you in that I write kind of bare scenes in my first draft and always have to go back in during revision and really increase the description. I have trouble finding balance in describing things that are key to the scene and or setting. It’s like I go overboard OR underboard. Sigh. And I hear you on wanting things to be nice for your characters! I start out with all these stakes and tension in mind, and then treat them with kid gloves. I’m constantly deleting and rewriting with a more evil mindset.

    PS I can TOTALLY see you as Wonder Woman 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, that picture of Wonder Woman… could her waist be any tinier?!

      Yep, I’m always having to revise with evil in mind too… so important to torture our people, but so hard too!

  4. Gilly says:

    Ooh – description is hard for me too! Especially of characters. I always feel like I’ve given too much already, then my crit partners tell me they want to know what my characters look like!

    • katyupperman says:

      I think it’s good to have CPs with strengths that are different (or opposite!) from yours. My stories are so much more balanced after a great round of critiquing. Sounds like you have some good ones!

  5. Jaime says:

    I’m a bit of an over describer too and get seriously carried away with it. In the revisions I know this is going to come back and bite me in the rear. Glad to see I’m not the only one 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Yes, I’m happy to be in good company! And I don’t know… you might be better off in revisions. I personally think it’s easier to cut away to much than to insert more when you’re already mentally “done” writing.

  6. Alison Miller says:

    Attics as extra characters – I believe it – you are a veritable master at description. And I have a hard time hurting my darlings too, but I’m working on it.

    • katyupperman says:

      Why is it so challenging?! I’m constantly having to remind myself that these are make-believe people and I can do whatever I want to them, but it’s so hard! Glad I’m not alone, at least. 🙂

  7. Rebecca B says:

    WonderKaty! I love description, so that is a superpower I’d like to gain. I also have a hard time with stakes and tension–I tend to resolve things way too quickly, and I’m always revising to draw stuff out. Great post!

    • katyupperman says:

      Yes! I love resolution and want everything to be pretty and neat and tidy… unfortunately that doesn’t make for a very interesting story. It is a fun “kryptonite” to work on improving, though. Nothing like torturing make-believe people. 🙂

  8. kate scott says:

    I’m so jealous, descriptive details is totally my kryptonite. I can do characters, but my settings are always left totally to the imagination of my readers.

    • katyupperman says:

      It’s something you can definitely grow with, though. I’ve found that finding actual pictures of whatever I’m describing makes it easier to put down on paper. I love that you’re good with characters… I think I’m strong in that area too. 🙂

  9. Rida says:

    You’re lucky that you have TOO MUCH detail instead of too little- and you’re probably not the kind of person who clings to their already-written words and sobs and says NO NO NO I CAN’T CUT THIS.

    *ahem* That’s totally not me. Not me at all.

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, I’m totally a clinger, don’t worry. 🙂 It’s sometimes fun to watch the word count go down when you’re tightening everything up though. That’s how I try to look at it, anyway. 🙂

  10. Francesca Zappia says:

    I’m gonna have to go with Miss Cole on this one. I’m good on the tension (I’m on the other end of the writerly spectrum–I love torturing my characters) but sometimes I only describe things well enough for me to imagine them, and not for other people. >.<

    • katyupperman says:

      And as I told Miss Cole… it’s unfortunate we can’t share our strengths with our fellow writers as we see fit. Can you imagine how easy writing and revising would become?!

  11. Sarah Belliston (@sbelliston) says:

    Definitely the opposite. Details shmetails. Tension yes please. I always have to go back and add in the reasons why someone should care about what’s happening in my book. Thankfully I have a writing partner that is just like you and roots for my characters to have a little break every now and then.

    • katyupperman says:

      I love my opposites-attract CPs. They’re so good at calling me out for making things too easy. Everyone should have a “yin to their CP yang”, as the brilliant Christa Desir puts it. 🙂

  12. Kirsten Lopresti says:

    I’m with you on description. I love it. I also love revision and playing with words. The hardest thing for me is drafting. Also, Synopsis writing. The Synopsis is a giant struggle for me to get right.

    • katyupperman says:

      Ugh… I am horrible with synopses too. I almost wrote about them as my kryptonite, but I knew this post would turn into a big ol’ synopsis sob story. Glad I’m not alone. 🙂

  13. commutinggirl says:

    I understand the feeling of wanting to protect your characters. Things are getting tough for my MC and her friends right now and it is more difficult than I thought to write those parts…Any tips you may have gather along the way to ease the pain? 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Um… Constantly reminding myself that high stakes are what’s best for the story is what I have to do. It *is* painful, but knowing it’s for the good of your writing makes it a little easier. So glad to know I’m not alone in my kryptonite. 🙂

  14. Mrs. S says:

    “Raise the stakes” is probably the piece of storytelling advice that I have most cemented in my brain–and find hardest to enact, at least as a writer. As an actor or a director, I think I’m pretty smart about finding the choices within the existing world of a play that raise the stakes. As a writer, though, I agree–it’s harder to inflict it on characters that are truly my own. (I’m hoping that will be easier in the newer WIP, the dystopian, than it has been in the realistic one I’ve been with for a while, because somehow it seems kinder to make teenagers take on their entire society and government than one Mean Girl.)

    • katyupperman says:

      You might be right about that… if there’s a fantastical element in the story, perhaps the characters’ struggles won’t hit quite so close to home. I’m not really speaking from experience though… my stories are mostly contemporary. The thought of one of my girls having to split with her boyfriend just about breaks my heart. 🙂

  15. Jessica Love says:

    I’m the same way with my characters. I’m a people pleaser / conflict avoider by nature, and I find myself doing that with my writing / characters, too. It’s out of character for me to torment them, but that sure makes for a boring story!

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