Monday, August 29, 2016

Why Every Writer Needs a Vision

By Andrea Merrell

As writers—especially Christian writers—we need to know the Bible is filled with Scriptures that talk about God speaking to His children through dreams and visions. In fact, Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Let’s look a little closer and find out what that means for us as writers.

Some people look at this as mysterious, something that doesn’t happen in our modern society. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says it can be something seen in a dream or trance; a thought or concept formed in the imagination. But vision, simply put, is what can be rather than what is. Without vision—like that of Thomas Edison, Albert Schweitzer, Benjamin Franklin, and many others—we would not have advanced as a society to where we are today.

But what happens when you have a vision? You create a plan … a mission.


Webster’s defines mission as a pre-established and often self-imposed objective or purpose. Basically, your mission is a set of small, achievable goals that will propel you toward your vision. These goals are generally specific and measurable.

Setting Your Goals
The first step is knowing and being confident in your vision. What has God placed in your heart? What do you see yourself doing next year? Five years from now?

Once you’re confident in your vision, create your mission statement. Write the vision and make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV). Sometimes, writing things down will solidify what’s in your mind and heart and give you a benchmark to focus on.

Do you have a vision? Maybe it’s:
  • Writing a devotion
  • Writing a best-selling novel
  • Winning a writing contest
  • Teaching a writing class
  • Attending a writers’ conference
  • Designing your own website
  • Speaking to students about writing
  • Traveling the world for inspiration

Whatever your vision—no matter how small or large—do you have a mission? Have you broken it down and created a set of bite-sized, achievable goals to get you there? If not, why not begin today.

If you don’t have a vision for your writing career, ask God to give you one. He will, I promise. And when He does, He will give you the wisdom, resources, and connections to get you to your God-given destiny.

(Photos courtesy of Miles/Sattva.) 


Monday, August 8, 2016

Critique Groups - How to Find the Perfect One for You

This month we welcome DiAnn Mills as our guest on The Write Editing. Thanks for joining us!

by DiAnn Mills     @DiAnnMills

Writers search for the best ways to receive helpful feedback for their manuscripts. We all desire to develop new skills by learning from those who know the craft. Face to face meetings offer an opportunity for the writer to reach professional goals. Meeting with a select group of writers who share the same joys and challenges inspires us to continue toward our goals.

Critique partners can help us define our manuscripts. But finding the personality and expertise with other writers is like searching for a new doctor. Not everyone is a good fit. A writer seeks those special people who have the same or advanced skills. To some writers, a critique group who writes in the same genre is helpful.

Critique partners who meet in person develop trust and share social time. Online critiquing help battle the time crunch. I’ve done both and understand the advantages and —the disadvantages.

If a situation no longer works for whatever reason, graciously resign from your commitment. A sense of responsibility is not a reason to continue in a relationship that no longer has value.

Establish a few ground rules with a potential critique group or partner so writers understand the expectations. Each member must be committed to the group and willing to give back.

Here are a few considerations:

• Will you and your partner(s) meet online or in a physical place?

• How many pages will be exchanged?

• How many writers will be in the group?

• Will the critiques be a line edit or a content edit?

• What will be the turnaround time?

• How will you handle a critique partner who fails to submit her work on a consistent basis

These guidelines will help ensure success for any critique groups. Merely tweak for the format that best suits the writers’ needs.

1. Determine how many writers in the group.

2. Establish a meeting place.

3. Establish manuscript format. 1-inch margins, Double Spacing, 12-point Times New Roman or New  Courier Font, Header with automatic page numbering

4. Establish length of submitted manuscript.

5. Automatically format the manuscript to number lines.

6. Members understand the manuscript’s contents and genre.

7. Submit polished writing as though each member is an editor.

8. Writer brings copies of manuscript for each participant.

9. Someone other than the writer reads the work aloud.

10. Writer is permitted two minute lead-in before work is read.

11. Writer does not speak during the reading.

12. Each writer is given 15 minutes of critique time.

13. It is inappropriate to interrupt.

14. Always thank the person who has given the critique.

15. Don’t take suggestions personally.

16. Ground rules for constructive criticism. Use the Oreo method. Begin with a compliment, make appropriate suggestions, close the critique with encouragement. Honesty is critical, but unkind remarks are forbidden. Harshness does not make a better writer.

17. Make specific suggestions. General comments do not help the writer.

18. Address punctuation, flow, content, and credibility.

19. Critique according to writer’s ability/level of expertise.

20. Each member of the group is responsible for adhering to guidelines.

21. If a writer doesn’t submit her own writing, she shouldn’t critique another’s work.

22. Enjoy the experience! This is a time to admire and respect your peers.

I treasure the friendship of my critique partners. We pray and play together, which ensures our friendships are mentally and spiritually rewarding.

What tips can you offer for a successful critique group? Feel free to leave a comment below.


How to Find the Perfect Critique Group for You via @DiAnnMills {Click to Tweet}

22 Critique Group Pointers from @DiAnnMills {Click to Tweet}

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

Be sure to check out her newest title, Deadly Encounter. Available now.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The More You Know, The More You'll Save: Part VII ~ Transitions

by Alycia W. Morales

As authors, we're always looking for ways to save money and time. This is the seventh post in a series that is meant to help you save both. On the front end, putting forth the effort to learn these points will cost you some time, but in the long run, it will save you money on professional edits.

Last week, we went over creating an accurate timeline. This week, we'll take a look at transitions.

There are four reasons for a break in your story. These are chapter breaks (when you start a new chapter), a change of scene, gap in time, and a change in point of view.

When creating a chapter break, you would start a new page with the word "chapter" and the number at the top of the page (or seven double spaces/14 single spaces down the page, if the publisher prefers it). You will want to be sure your previous chapter ends with something that will cause the reader to turn the page, and you will want to be sure your new chapter starts with a hook that will keep the reader reading.

When changing scenes or time frames (like going from Friday night to Wednesday morning), you will need a hard break. Hard breaks look like this:
They are centered on the page and consist of one to three webdings, such as an asterisk or a pound sign (also now known as a hashtag). You would do the same for a change in POV, switching from one character to another.

This hard break lets the publishing house editor know that there is a change happening. Once the novel goes to print, there may be a blank line space between these changes. Your hard break marks will tell them where to put those line breaks. Some publishers leave the hash tags in place.

When changing from scene to scene, be aware that your reader needs to know the new location. It's best to introduce a place by putting the character within it and letting the reader experience that place through the character's eyes. Don't just start a new scene with a conversation or the character's action. Show us through his or her five senses where we are. What do they see? What do they hear? Smell? Can they taste something, such as when in a restaurant? How about touch? Is the bedding soft and they don't want to crawl out in the morning? You may need to name the location, such as "He pulled into the hospital ER parking lot and almost forgot to put the car in park before dashing through the doors."

When changing point of view, we need to know which character we're reading. Don't forget to name them at the start of the change. Otherwise, your reader will be trying to figure out who he or she is.

Now let's talk about another kind of transition. What is the proper way to transition from paragraph to paragraph?

When a character is doing something or talking, don't switch paragraphs until they are finished. When another character acts or speaks, they need a new paragraph. Even if it's just one, two-word sentence. I often see authors write a paragraph of one character's actions and conversation, and they'll insert one sentence of another character's dialogue in the middle of the paragraph. Don't be lazy about hitting the enter/return key. Each character needs their space.

What questions do you have about transitions? Feel free to leave them in the comments. We'd be happy to respond!