Monday, January 27, 2020

Edit Your Writing to S-P-A-R-K-L-E


By Katy Kauffman

My comfort in the middle of a snowless winter is the sparkle. I find it in the decorations that brighten my house. I see it in the joy that a dear friend takes in winter’s arrival. I find it on the Hallmark channel when an unpredictable line or scene tugs at my heart. 

We need sparkle to manage a difficult season, and we need it in our writing. When we infuse sparkle into our books, articles, and blog posts, we will keep our readers engaged and turning the page. Or scrolling to the end of a post. Sparkle brings stories to life, delivers insights about Scripture with charm, inspires with memorable takeaway, and leaves a glint of light behind in the reader. A glint that can ignite a fire of inspiration, purpose, and action.


So how we can edit our nonfiction writing to sparkle? Follow these seven steps to edit your writing so it has all the light, beauty, and charm it possibly can.

S – Search for sentences in your stories that tell and don’t show.
Replace any telling with showing, and you’ll let the sparkle shine. As authors, we act as narrators, but when we allow readers to live a story and not just watch it happen, we help them to have a vested interest in the outcome. So even for real-life stories, show where a story takes place. Set up the conflict. Share the characters’ emotions through their actions and reactions. Let the reader feel the struggle and long for victory. The stories will shine more brightly and have more of an impact on the reader.   

P – Place quotable lines throughout your writing.
Think “Twitter worthy.” You know those memes that you find on Twitter, Facebook, and other places? Picture your words on them. Would you share that meme if you didn’t know who had written it? As you edit your writing, make sure you have quotable sentences throughout your chapter, article, or blog post. Mark these on your books’ manuscripts, and suggest them for pull quote boxes for your future editor. These lines add sparkle to your writing.

A – Adjust any paragraphs to fully support your main idea.
It’s not just about getting words on page but crafting sentences that amplify your main idea. Sparkle forms when we explain our point with meaningful insights, touching stories, and intriguing illustrations. As you edit, see if just the right explanations and stories have been included, and be willing to adjust as needed.  

R – Rid your paragraphs and pages of any clutter.
I often feel dread when I consider cutting my words. But unnecessary words and sentences hinder the sparkle. Free your writing to dazzle by eliminating what can hinder the message. Take out words and lines that don’t directly support what you want to say.  

K – Know who your audience is, and tailor your takeaway for them.  
What application of Scripture does your particular audience need? What life situations are they going through, and have you adequately encouraged them to persevere or trust God? Do your paragraphs inspire them to take the action you’re suggesting? When we remember our audience in every line and paragraph of our writing, the sparkle will appeal to them.

L – Love your reader.
As you edit, notice your “voice.” Do you steer away from a negative voice and instead use the voice of a friend to encourage, inspire, or instruct? Show your readers that you’ve been in the same boat they are likely in, and share how God helped you row through a difficult time to the other side of peace and relief.

E – Exit a chapter or article at just the right place.
End your piece of writing with a stunning takeaway. It can be in the form of a quotable line or someone else’s quote. It can be a thought-provoking question or driving home the slant of the piece. Knowing when to finish is just as important as knowing what to say. Not too late and not too soon. Leave the reader with inspiration they’ll remember and act on.

Which of these sparkle steps are you already practicing? Which might you need to work on more? Tell us in the comments which of the steps appeals to you the most, and never leave out the sparkle.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)


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Katy Kauffman is an award-winning author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. She loves connecting with writers and working alongside them in compilations, such as Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character, which was a 2019 Selah Awards finalist and Director’s Choice finalist. Katy’s Scripture-based writing can be found at CBN.com, thoughts-about-God.com, the Arise Daily blog, and in online magazines. She shares monthly tips on writing at The Write Conversation and the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference blog.

Katy loves spending time with family and friends, making jewelry, and hunting for the best donuts. Connect with her at her blog, The Scrapbooked Bible Study, and on Facebook and Twitter.


Monday, January 13, 2020

So, You Want to Write a Book?


By Sandra Allen Lovelace

“You’re an author? Wow. I dream about writing a book someday.”

These very words fuel countless conversations. A friend introduces me to her shopping buddy at the mall. The person sitting beside me as we wait for a delayed flight starts to chat. A greeter in a new setting asks me what I do. These situations don’t surprise me because it’s estimated that 80 percent of American adults say they need or want to write a book.

In honor of these discussions with would-be authors, I created my So, You Want to Write a Book? workshop built around the strategy that moved my current work in progress from concept to contract in less than a year. My audiences are enthusiastic and complimentary, and I share the following highlights as encouragement for those yet to get started or anyone stuck along the way.

Genre
Your project is more than fiction/nonfiction. Be clear about the category as it relates to every detail of content and style, and keep your audience in mind.

Voice
Your personality is as unique in print as at your core. Once you know and appreciate who you are, make sure you’re prepared to share that with your readers.

Format
Basic issues, such as grammar and punctuation, are essential, as are industry standards and publisher guidelines. Heed and apply these specifics from the beginning.

Culture
Human connections are as vital as an understanding of the publishing world. Attend conferences to meet people and learn the ropes as much as to grow your craft.

Process
Your writing sweet spot may take time to discover. Find your productive routine from the perspective of your intellectual, emotional, and physical needs.

When we choose to step back and consider the various aspects of our writing life, whether in hope or fact, we not only rest and rejuvenate what may be tired muscles. We open doors to a stronger foundation, wider horizons, and fresh creativity. Intentionality reaps marvelous rewards.

What strategies have worked best for you. We would love to hear your comments.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)

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Sandra Allen Lovelace served the LORD as a pastor’s wife and missionary for 35 years. She’s written educational and motivational materials for adults, curriculum for children, and in-print and online magazine articles. She’s the author of two published books, and her award-winning blog is more than 10 years old. Sandra holds degrees in education and communication arts, is a 2015 graduate of Christian Communicators, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and an award-winning Competent Communicator with Toastmasters International. She’s the director of a multi-cultural speaking, writing, and coaching ministry founded in 1991.

Sandra arrived in South Carolina two and a half years ago. She’s the mother of two married daughters and four busy grandchildren so far. Not surprisingly, travel is one of her favorite activities, best done internationally with a camera in her hand. Visit Sandra at https://sandraallenlovelace.com/



Friday, January 3, 2020

Write with Joy


By Andrea Merrell

Everywhere you look—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—people are choosing a buzz word for 2020. Words like peace, purpose, focus, breathe, and perseverance to name a few. But the majority have chosen the word joy.


After reading my devotion for January 1, I realized how important that word is, especially for us as writers. It seems that Handel’s “Messiah” was written in 1741 by a man with failing eyesight. He also faced the possibility of dying in a debtor’s prison because he couldn’t pay his bills. The man’s life was far from “happy.” So, what drove him to write the masterpiece in only three weeks? Pure joy.

Handel is quoted as saying he felt as if he would “burst with joy” at the words and music that filled his mind and heart. He said the music “came to him” as he feverishly put pen to paper, "driven by an unseen composer."

Not to be confused with happiness—as one source states—joy is a gift from God and is not dependent upon our circumstances. The Bible has much to say about this gift:

  • The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV


  •  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11 NLT


  • You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 NIV


  • For you shall go out with joy and be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Is 55:12 NKJV


  • You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence. Acts 2:28 NLT


  •  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:4 KJV


In the midst of adverse circumstances, Handel was inspired by God to write one of the most cherished works in history. He responded to the joy of the Lord that filled him.

As we enter a new year, ask the Lord to fill you with divine inspiration. No matter what is going on in your life, write. Hear the words and stories in your heart and mind. Be driven by that same “unseen composer.”

Write with joy.

Wishing you a year filled with inspiration, opportunities, and most of all … joy.


 (Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)


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