This may sound a bit stupid, but all writers have different strengths and weaknesses. The key is to figure out yours and then do something about them.
During my “day job,” I serve on the board of my temple. As a vice president, I oversee several committees and help plan our strategic direction. I work with a phenomenal group of people and we all bring different skills to the table. One of the skills I bring is writing. Thus, when there are letters to be crafted or edited, all eyes turn to me—at which point I go all “deer in the headlights” and whisper, “crap.” J
One of the things that drives me crazy in this job is the communications that go out either with errors or with language that can be improved to better convey the type of organization we are. However, I have friends who are driven crazy by typos in emails. And our pet peeves aren’t that different from those of other readers and writers.
I’ve seen multiple discussions on blogs about how errors in books pull you out of the story; how once you’re a writer, you never look at the writing in a book the same way again; how reviewers rate books based on their editing. All of these are valid points.
As a writer, it’s up to me to determine where my strengths and weaknesses are. I happen to be very good at crafting the words and getting the message across. My grammar is strong. However, I still make mistakes and typos and no matter how many times I proofread, I miss things. That’s why a critique partner who is obsessed with punctuation, consistency (making sure all mentions of the hero’s eye color are consistent) and the rest of the small things is essential for me. I don’t need the ideas so much, although those are helpful; I need the copyediting.
I’m a much better copyeditor of other people’s work than my own; the distance allows me to see things that I can’t see in my own work. But I’m also really good at identifying motivation problems and plot holes. So people who ask me to critique their work get that from me.
The key is to match up a critique partner with the writer’s needs. In my opinion, it’s less important whether that partner is published or unpublished. It’s more important that they fill in the skills that the writer lacks.
So, what are your pet peeves in writing? What are your skills and weaknesses? How do you compensate?