Monday, March 25, 2019

Oops ... I Forgot to Write a Title

By Yolanda Smith

I’m a fantastic forgetter. I’ve advanced through the ranks until I earned my PhD in the subtle art of forgettery. My cup of coffee is never where I last left it. Folks I’ve known for years stop to say hello and, without warning, their names tumble headfirst into my mental basement. I forget to write items on my Walmart list, neglect to carry said list inside the store, and cannot recall where I parked my car when I exit the building.

No surprise, but this transfers smoothly to my writing life. I sit at my keyboard to click clack my thoughts and soon forget the most important, basic elements required for a robust writing session. If I want to be successful, I need an abundance of external reminders of what my essentials are.

To combat my lack of recall, I have strategically placed single and double-word notes in locations where my eyes dart most when I glance away from my computer. I’m sharing my list with you in hopes that 1) you won’t judge me too harshly for disremembering elementary stuff, and 2) you’ll be stimulated to admit your own struggles consider which words and phrases might top your own list of vital reminders.

I change my memos as needed, but these are my current sticky notes:

When I am in the throes of churning out chunks of material, I forget to get out of my seat. If I don’t take a break every twenty to thirty minutes, stretch my muscles and get my blood flowing, I end up with a migraine.

Make Me Care
This is the voice of my reader whispering in my ear. If I bore her, I’ve committed one of the cardinal sins of writing. One of my ultimate goals when writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, is to make my reader care. I want to compel her to take my words to heart.

Multiple writers, myself included, struggle with ADD/ADHD. Perhaps that’s not part of your personal toil package, but I’m guessing you face any number of other distractions. When my mind wanders, I tend to … And then I … Until I see my FOCUS memo, and it drives me to return to the task at hand.

So What?
Sometimes, when my writing journey is at peak stress level my normal concerns tip over the edge into Worryland. One of the best exercises I use when I’m worried is to take my concern to its potential outcome with the question, “So what?”
I might not win the contest I entered.
So what?
I didn’t get the agent I was hoping for.
So what?
So what if I never get published? 
The answers to these questions help me identify where my priorities are (and discover my hidden idols in the process). Because in light of eternity with Christ, and his relationship with me here on earth, most of my so-whats fall into the right perspective or fizzle into nothingness.

This thought is a companion to “So what.” It is crucial for me to remember God owns my writing life. He put me on this journey, and He can change course any time. I must carry it all in open palms for Him to shape, use, or discard as He sees fit. Without reminders, my resting hands morph into a tight-fisted grip.

This one is a no-brainer, but since I’m amazing at forgetting, I keep ASK in the most prominent spot on my desk. I am abundantly aware if I’m to write anything worth reading, I need the Lord’s help. But sometimes, if I’m not careful, that awareness sits like a dusty book on a shelf. Being aware of a need is not the same as doing something about it. The simplest thing in the world is to request aid, but it’s astonishing how quickly I forget to ask God for help.

Odds and Ends
I keep many other reminders tacked on my board and scattered across my desk. Bible verses, inspirational quotes, and craft must-dos are dispersed throughout my workspace. These are often large Post-it® notes, and I’m not as apt to read them if I’m in a hurry. That’s why I keep the most significant missives reduced to one or two key words written on separate, brightly colored notes so they’ll leap out at me.

Oddly Enough
It isn’t imperative to remember all the things at once. A quick glance at one dominant word can jog my memory and put me on the path of productivity and creativity. And my reminders aren’t perennial. Some of them turn into habits by and by. The Lord is always challenging and changing me, and that’s what I love most about this writing life.

Do you keep reminders handy in your workspace? I’d love to hear your list. Do you have another method for remembering priorities when you write?

Photos courtesy of, Stuart Miles, and Yolanda Smith).


Monday, March 18, 2019

The Power of Words

By Andrea Merrell

When I created a website and started blogging ten years ago, I was a total newbie in this unique world of writing, editing, and publishing. Every baby step forward was made with faith that God was leading me down the path He had prepared for me long ago.

Naming my website and blog felt like a monumental task. So many others had beautiful sites with catchy phrases and stunning graphics. It was obvious how much time, effort, thought (and yes, even money) had gone into their web presence. I’d never considered myself very creative and didn’t know how to create a brand. I felt like a kindergartner.

But my love of words kept me going. In the early days, I set up a website on Go Daddy and called it The Word Shoppe. The header was a coffee shop theme with a cute little bistro table and chairs. It seemed to work well, and I was happy with it … for a while.

Someone told me I could create a free blog site on, so I did. Again, I struggled to come up with a catchy name. The name I settled on—or should I say the name the Lord gave me—was Words That Matter. I knew in my heart that whatever I wrote on that site would contain words that were important. Words that were encouraging. Uplifting. Constructive. Words that really meant something. I never wanted to fill up a page with a bunch of fluff and nonsense. 

I later cancelled my Go Daddy site and combined my website and blog at where I post a short devotion once a week in hopes of encouraging my readers. I would love to have you join me. Because to me, words are a gift, and they really do matter. They matter to us as writers, to our readers, and, most importantly, to God.

Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue (NKJV). That means as writers—especially Christian writers—we have a huge responsibility to use our words with wisdom, honesty, and integrity. We have the power to speak life or death to those who invest their time and energy to read our books, blog posts, devotions, and articles.

As Chris Tiegreen says “One of the greatest gifts you can give the world is the power of your words. Use them wisely. Build up rather than tearing down. Speak life instead of destruction. Express truth and love. Dispense with mindless chatter; let your words carry weight. Your mouth is an influential force. Use it well, and the people around you will thrive.

Yes, our words matter, whether spoken or written. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverb 12:18 NIV). Our words can be a blessing or a curse, especially in this age of hatred and political unrest. The choice is ours.  

Andy Rooney once said, "Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them." We never want to live with regrets, especially because of careless words. Choose yours wisely, and bless the world with the gift God has given you. 

I would like to take a moment to personally thank each of you for reading and supporting The Write Editing. Alycia and I started this blog in 2014 as a resource for writers. We have had some amazing guest bloggers, and we plan to bring you more in the future. If there are topics you would like for us to address, please leave a comment and let us know. Thank you for all the shares, likes, and tweets over these past five years. We would love for you to share us with your friends so they can join us as well. Be blessed in your writing journey! 😊

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


Monday, March 11, 2019

Writer, Leave Them Hanging

By Cindy Sproles

“It was a fast read. I couldn’t put it down.”
Nothing rings sweeter to an author’s heart than these words. The moment a reader becomes so invested in a story that nothing is more important than reading to the end. It’s

We call these page turners cliffhangers. Remember “who shot J. R.”—the 1980s season cliffhanger for Dallas that kicked off a new era for television? More so, it kept watchers drooling to know what happened next, assuring Dallas a knockout for the next season’s opener.

There are different schools of thought on the subject of cliffhangers, but for me … I love them, and I practice them at the end of most chapters of a novel. Why? It’s a challenge for me as a writer and a ring-in-the-nose for my reader that allows me to clip on the rope and continue to pull them deeper into the story.

Some authors insist cliffhangers are unnecessary if you write a compelling story, but a compelling story should be filled with exhilaration and take-your-breath realizations that drive your reader into a deeper investment in the characters. Carefully placed cliffhangers are the icing on an already compelling story.

The question is, exactly what is a cliffhanger and how do you insert them into your chapter without leaving a cheesy taste for your reader? First off, a cliffhanger is not always something earth-shattering. In fact, the most effective cliffhangers come when the author leaves the reader holding on to a character’s thought or motivation. It’s the “what if” factor or ratcheting up the tension. Something unexpected happens—or fails to happen—a new thought or change of thought process.

For example, your character makes a decision:  Owen knew the answer. He held the key in his hand all along … talk to Ericka. Just talk to Ericka.

With a cliffhanger like this at the end of a chapter, the reader suddenly experiences the same “ahhh” moment as the character, whetting their desire to know what follows the decision to talk to Ericka.

Perhaps it’s a moment when the character realizes something important.

Example:  I flipped open the worn pages of his Bible and pressed my finger against the words. I had my proof. My vindication right in the lines of the Good Book. An eye for an eye. “How’s this Daddy? An eye for an eye …”

A good cliffhanger acts as a lure. It proves to be just as valuable as the opening hook in paragraph one of the first chapter. Sometimes the perfect cliffhanger is a simple statement from a character that reinforces the chapter’s tension.

For example:  There was nothing left to say. When the gavel hit the desk, guilty rang through the courtroom.

Equally as important as utilizing a cliffhanger is knowing not to overuse them. Remember, when your reader is deeply invested in your story, their heart races, they wiggle in their chair with the intensity of the scene so there are times, very important times, that you give the reader the opportunity for a breath. Let them relax for a second.

I loved the television show 24. But after two seasons, I began to say, “Just how many more times can Jack Bauer save the world?” Instead of my interest growing stronger, I felt like there was no end to the dire situations the nation faced. I was tired and frustrated when the show ended. And poor Jack Bauer, how could the man ever rest?  This was the result of never allowing the watcher to experience a moment of hope. Angst is wonderful, but too much gives your reader ulcers.

As you place cliffhangers at the end of chapters, carefully assess the intensity of the chapters prior and post. Ask yourself the question, “Can my reader take a breath?” If not, give them one. As much as we love drama and action, we need to experience some hope and peace. These strategically placed sentences enrich your reader’s experience.

In a conference class under the late Ron Benrey, he shared his thoughts on the importance of a good cliffhanger. “A good story … a really good story, piques every sense and emotion of the reader, not once, but over and over. Carefully placed cliffhangers bring the story to life. It’s like the character reaches from the pages of the book, takes the reader by the wrist and yanks them into a fictional bubble which refuses to let them escape. This, and this alone, gives the reader an experience they long for.”

As you study your chapters, carefully assess how you can apply a good solid cliffhanger. Decide what type of emotion you need to tweak, and then jump on it. Learn to make your readers hunger for the next page and give them the pleasure. When they purchase your book, read it, and close the cover, they should have received the reading experience they deserve. Your best hope as a writer, is an email that asks you for more. When that happens, it’s a win-win for you and for the reader.

(Photos courtesy of, marin, and Sira Anamwong.)

Cindy Sproles explains how to draw your readers into your story by strategically placed cliffhangers. via @Cindydevoted (Click to tweet.)

Cindy Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. She’s an author, popular speaker and teacher at conferences, and a writing mentor. Cindy serves as the Executive Editor of,, and is the Managing Editor for SonRise Books and Straight Street Books with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is the author of New Sheets–Thirty Days to Refine You Into the Woman You Can BeMercy’s Rain, and Liar's Winter. Visit Cindy at