Monday, April 27, 2020

When Do I Stop Editing?



By Katy Kauffman


He didn’t just stop the opposing player—he bulldozed him all the way to the fence.

In the movie “The Blind Side,” Michael Oher used his gigantic size and his equally huge passion to protect his football team. His team was “his family,” as his new foster mom, Leigh Anne Tuohy, told him. Because he was normally passive, Michael had to tap into his protective instincts to become an incredible football player. In one scene, he blocked an opposing player and pushed him all the way past the goal line to the fence and dumped him on the other side.

As writers, we want to fiercely protect our “team” of words, so they can make a difference in readers’ lives. We want to steamroll any “opposing players” in our writing, so they don’t hinder readers from grasping our message and living it out. Opposing players include limp wording, excessive modifiers, distracting details in a story, and a jumbled flow of thought. We want to edit our way to victory, but when we do stop? At the fence line or before?

Just as there’s a time limit in a football game, deadlines limit how much we can edit. I’m learning I need to work on something way ahead of its deadline, so I feel confident enough to submit it. Glancing through The Chicago Manual of Style to make sure we have steamrolled everything bad out of our writing isn’t feasible, so how about an editing checklist—or playbook—to help you with your submissions?

Like me, you probably feel like you could edit a piece of your writing forever. Even when the piece has been published, we can still find elements to change. Use the checklist below to know when to stop editing your Scripture-related books, articles, and blog posts. Then submit and publish with confidence.

A Checklist for Editing Scripture-Related Writing:

  • Have I developed a main point that is unique, engaging, and beneficial to my target audience? 
  • Have I created an irresistible title that will hook readers’ attention?
  • Do I have an intriguing lead-in that is directly related to my main point? 
  • Have I woven my slant (the story or metaphor in my lead-in) throughout my writing? 
  • Have I cut out any unnecessary details in my stories? 
  • Have I shared explanations of Scripture that help my main point, give meaningful insights to my readers, and are interesting to more people than just me?
  • Have I included the right amount of cross-references for emphasis, illustration, or explanation?
  • Have I developed a well-planned, streamlined flow of thought?
  • Would I find this piece of writing interesting if I only read the first line of each paragraph?
  • Have I included enough short sentences for emphasis and variety among the longer ones? 
  • Have I included the Bible translations of all my verses? 
  • Have I quoted Scripture correctly each time? 
  • Have I formatted my Scripture references and my endnotes correctly? 
  • Have I checked my writing for correct grammar and spelling? 
  • Have I included all the appropriate edits from my writers’ group or critique partners? 
  • Have I read this piece of writing out loud to catch any typos or awkward sentences?

If your answer is yes to those questions, stop editing! I know, editing takes a lot of work, but the victory we experience when we reach the end is worth all the hard work to create writing that engages, inspires, and instructs. So have a game plan of meeting deadlines. Use this checklist. Edit your way to victory. And remember when to stop.

Do you have any tips to add to the list above? We would love to hear from you.


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



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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 Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 1 which is a 2020 Selah Awards finalist. Lighthouse’s newest compilation, The Power to Make a Difference, was released in January 2020.

In addition to online magazines, Katy’s writing can be found at CBN.com, thoughts-about-God.com, the Arise Daily blog, and three blogs on writing. She loves to spend time with family and friends, watercolor in her new Bible journal, and do yard work in the summer sun. Connect with her at her blog, The Scrapbooked Bible Study, and on Facebook and Twitter.







Thursday, April 23, 2020

3 Reasons for Writers to Select a Writing Life Verse

@storyinspirations.3

A life verse is a verse of Scripture that one commits to memory because of its profound affect on the individual. It's a verse you tend to live your life by because of how much it influences you and your daily decisions.


My life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

To me, this verse means that when I put God first and trust Him with my life, He will let me know what He wishes for me to do and say and where he wants me to go. Daily.

In 2010, I had a bit of a mid-life crisis. (Early mid-life.) It was then that I knew God wanted me to be a writer. Because I've trusted Him with every aspect of my life since I came to really know Him in 1996, I trusted Him with my writing career. I stepped out in faith and pursued that area of my calling.

And He's directed my steps in my writing career, just as He has every other area of my life.

As writers, it's important to have a writing life verse.

Having a writing life verse does a few things:

  1. It gives us something to reflect on when we doubt ourselves as writers.
  2. It provides direction to our career. It points out purpose.
  3. It reminds us of Who called us to be writers and gave us the talents to do so.
My writing life verse is Psalm 45:1.




I also use this verse often:
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony...
(Revelation 12:11, NKJV)

I love the Lord. I love this life He has given me. I am blessed by Him. So I want my writing to bring Him honor and glory. And I want to be ready and willing to write what He directs me to write. Because I know that what I write (my testimony) has the power to help someone else grow closer to God.

Do you have a writing life verse?

Here is a list of other verses that may inspire you to claim them as your writing life verse:

 

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,’ says the Lord" (Jeremiah 30:1-3).

"We write this to make our joy complete" (1 John 1:4).

"Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry" (Habakkuk 2:2-3). 


"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones" (Proverbs 16::24).

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" 2 Timothy 2:15).

 "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23).

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24).

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).

Tweetable: 12 Life Verses for Writers via @AlyciaMorales on The Write Editing

What is your writing life verse? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Squelching the Eeyores in Writing


By Cindy Sproles

My high school journalism teacher once told me, “You’re a naive soul. Always looking for the best in others. Beware of the Eeyores. They will crush you.”

It’s not the first time I’ve been accused of naivety nor the first time I’ve been disappointed in others, so when I became a member of the writing world, I’d hoped for better.

Competition is alive and well in the publishing industry. It always has been. It’s not necessarily a bad thing when it’s managed appropriately, but when it isn’t ... naysayers surface.

Over the last few months, I’ve read countless opinions from some of publishing’s finest – well established agents, solid and experienced editors, and strong publishers. The naysayers are rising. Excited new writers are crushed beneath the hand of these naysayers.

Here’s what naysayers are ranting:

It’s foolish to encourage a new writer who knows nothing about the industry or the craft – that they could be published. Learn the craft! “Wow” was the only word I could cough up. I understand the attitude many newer writers possess is raw. Their work, in their eyes, is perfect as is. They’ve yet to learn the importance of real editing and the bloody knees involved in the growth process. But who better to encourage them to learn the craft, to understand the industry, than those who have walked the path first. Yes, at times, an attitude of entitlement must be massaged away, but without guidance and encouragement, how will those coming up ever know?

Small publishers will ruin your career. Stay away. They can’t produce the numbers needed for your success. Unfortunately, publishing can be a numbers game, but there is more to be assessed. Let’s be clear, we are talking about traditional publishers, not self-publishing companies who are in a box all their own. Whether it be a small traditional publisher or a large house. They work very hard. There are first-time authors signed with large contracts from huge houses who only sell a handful of books, and there are first-time authors signed with small publishers who do the same. A book with few sales weighs evenly whether it’s contacted by a large house or a small traditional publisher. Certainly, large houses have a longer arm into the market. They spend thousands of dollars to print even small runs of books, mailing them to distributors and retailers. They are able to allocate small amounts of money for advertising and probably have a few ins with advertisers that small houses don’t, but the bulk of marketing continues to fall on the author. 

The bottom line is still the same. Low numbers are hard on any writer’s career and when a second contract comes into consideration, the opportunities lessen. Small traditional publishers don’t have the money to do what larger houses do. It’s just not there. Still, there many good first-time authors who work small houses, taking the bull by the horn and selling those books. Their numbers DO happen and though they may not be as broad, the fact remains, they are selling their books. That’s successful. Isn’t the goal of the author and the publisher publication and sales – whether it’s a large house or small? I understand the thoughts of numbers and sales, but I also believe authors who are good are often overlooked when all they need is a tiny bit of tweaking to be amazing.

Small houses publish junk. They publish anything. Well, that’s an interesting thought that bears no validity. Small houses can’t afford to publish junk and make zero dollars. That doesn’t make good business sense. In fact, of the five small publishers I know personally, they spend a lot of time and money on editors, so their authors have the same opportunity at successful publication as the big boys. Book qualities are excellent, and they work hard to find ways to market themselves and help the author market.

I hate it when people say they are called by God to write. God might call them, but He doesn’t write the book, and His calling is not a free pass to publication. There is some truth in this, but not fully. I believe God does offer a call into the lives of those who write in the Christian world, however, Scripture teaches us that God expects our best. Writers who feel the nudge of God to write are held to a higher standard. And no, a calling is not a free pass to publication. It is, however, an opportunity to learn a craft and use it willingly to His glory. To quote a dear friend, “Your work may never be meant to sit on the shelves of a bookstore. It may only be meant for the person sitting next to you.” The entitlement attitude must be gently “taught” away so the understanding of how things work – effort, hard work, learning the craft, rejections, and ultimately publication  happens.

I realize some will label me naive, foolish, or even stupid, but can’t we wish and strive for an industry that works together to bring amazing works of words to a world that hungers for something positive and good?

Encourage. Teach. Guide. Help. When these things happen, both authors and the industry thrive.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, master isolated images, and Stuart Miles.)

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Cindy Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference (ACWC). She’s an author, popular speaker and teacher at conferences, and a writing mentor. Cindy serves as the Executive Editor of ChristianDevotions.us, Inspire-A-Fire.com, and is the Managing Editor for SonRise Books and Straight Street Books with LPB Books/Iron Stream Media. She is the author of Mercy’s Rain, Liar’s Winter, and What Momma Left behind. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.


Monday, April 6, 2020

The Greatest Editor of All


By Andrea Merrell

As an editor, it’s my job to make the writer look good. To catch all those pesky little typos. To help correct POV issues, problems with dialogue, keeping the tenses consistent, hooking the reader, catching redundant words and phrases, and a dozen other elements to polish the client’s prose.


I have a responsibility to each client to be his or her right hand in the development of a project, making sure the facts are accurate, Scriptures are quoted and formatted correctly, and the story flows in chronological order. The goal is to keep the reader engaged and turning pages.

But my most important job is to instruct and encourage. I love what I do and take my job seriously.

Someone once asked if I ever had my own work edited. After I laughed—and choked—my answer was "absolutely!" I told them even the most experienced editor needs an editor.

As writers, we all get so caught up in our stories that we don’t see obvious errors. We know in our head what is supposed to be on the page, so our eyes skip over important mistakes—especially when we’ve read our own work a dozen times or more.

Whether you’re a detailed plotter with graphs, charts, and storyboards or a panster (seat-of-the-pants writer) who lets the words flow organically, all writers have a habitual routine we follow to some degree. When things don’t go as planned, we can easily get sidetracked, even stuck. I find this happening, not only in my writing and editing, but in every area of my life when I fail to consult the One who called me to do what I do.

One morning during my devotional time with the Lord, I was mentally preparing my to-do list for the day. But as I read from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, my mind quickly shifted into neutral as I focused on these words:

Come to Me with your plans held in abeyance. Trust Me enough to let me guide you through this day, accomplishing My purpose in My timing. Subordinate your myriad plans to my Master Plan. ~Jesus

Wow! My to-do list needed editing. I realized I was making and trusting my own way instead of seeking and trusting His. I chuckled. “Sorry, Lord. I guess I need an editor.”

I could almost see Him smile. Yes, you certainly do was the response.

The challenge for each of us, especially as writers, is to trust the Lord and search out His way in everything we do. When we fall back into our habitual routines, we risk missing what He has prepared for us. A man’s heart plans his way, but the  Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV).

Whether we’re working on a deadline, doing research, or searching for ideas, God has the answers we need—always. When we have too much on our plate and the tasks are screaming at us to complete them, He will help us prioritize and get them done. When we’re stuck or feel as if we haven’t done a good job, all we need to do is turn it over to the Lord. He is the greatest editor of all.


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

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