Guest Post: "The Four Stages of Writing Competence" by Urban Fantasy Author Christine Amsden

1. Unconscious Incompetence

In this, the first stage of writing competency, you're just starting to play with words and stories. Something has drawn you to write, but you don't know what you're doing and may or may not even care. You probably pattern your writing after books you've read, but you don't understand the finer points of what makes those stories work so that more often than not, it falls flat in your own story. If some part of your story works, it may be a sign that you've got great instincts or it may be that you got lucky. Regardless, no one is born knowing how to write and even the most intuitive writers need to develop their craft.

2. Conscious Incompetence

You've been playing around for a while and are starting to understand that you don't really know how to write. You may even be thinking that you just plain suck, and that there's no hope for you (you're wrong). But hopefully, you are beginning to understand that your incompetence stems from lack of knowledge and practice. At this point you have to decide if you're serious enough about writing to commit to it. To learn how to do the things you don't know how to do and to learn what else you don't yet know!

3. Conscious Competence

You're learning the rules. Rules are great. They tell you not to info dump (which might be why everyone was bored with your early stories) and to avoid adverbs (and you are very careful to delete them when you see them). There are tools that make your prose better, and tricks that make your characters seem more real, and strategies that help your plot flow. It's pretty tough keeping it all in your head all the time, and you have to think about these rules at all times – when you draft, when you revise, and when you edit. You're hyper-focused on them, sometimes even coming up with a few pet issues that you diligently help other authors to correct (whether it needs correcting or not). Your writing is growing, but sometimes it may feel a little stilted or forced.

4. Unconscious Competence

Years have passed. You never stop learning, and to some extent you are always going through this process with some new issue or another, but you've got a voice. You've got style. And you don't have to think about it all the time. It's natural, which makes your writing feel more natural – less stilted. Congratulations, you are now a professional.

Title: Kaitlin's Tale
Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Author: Christine Amsden
Publisher: Twilight Times Books

About the Book:
Kaitlin Mayer is on the run from the father of her baby – a vampire who wants her to join him in deadly eternity. Terrified for her young son, she seeks sanctuary from the hunters guild. But they have their own plans for her son, and her hopes of safety are soon shattered.
When she runs into Matthew Blair, an old nemesis with an agenda of his own, she dares to hope for a new escape. But Matthew is a telepath, and Kaitlin's past is full of dark secrets she never intended to reveal.
About the Author: 
Christine is the award-winning author of the Cassie Scot series, the story of the only ungifted scion of a family of powerful sorcerers. Her latest novel, Kaitlin's Tale, follows the trials of Cassie's best friend as she falls in love with Cassie's arch-nemesis. Christine's other titles include The Immortality VirusTouch of Fate, and Madison's Song.
When she isn't writing, Christine is often editing or coaching other authors. In recent years, freelance editing has become almost as great a passion as writing itself. Plus, it supports her writing habit. Christine is a wife, a mom, and a foster mom. She lives in Olathe, Kansas, just outside Kansas City.


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