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 and Stuart Miles.)


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,, 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.

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