by Anne R. Allen
Even if you have the writing talent of Lord Byron, you need these things.
I understand why new writers want to be reassured they have writing talent. They don’t want to embark on the long road to a writing career if they don’t have the chops. So I have sympathy with the writers who ask me to read their fledgling work in hopes I’ll pronounce them “talented.”
But I always decline.
A wise author never goes there. Even if we had the time to offer freebie critiques, we don’t want open ourselves up to lawsuits for “stealing ideas.”
But biggest reason is: I have no way of telling if people have “writing talent.”
I can only tell if they have writing skills.
And if they don’t have skills—which they probably don’t if they’re newbies—their job is to acquire some, not rely on some stranger’s opinion of what abilities they were born with.
In fact, sometimes I think the most insulting thing you can say to an author is, “you’re so talented,” although I know I’ve said it myself, intending to praise.
When We Say Someone has “Writing Talent,” We Usually Mean “Writing Skills.”