The Christian Writing World: It’s Big

Writing Christian fiction has opened my eyes to the enormity of the writing world. As a writer, there are so many avenues to learn the craft, meet other authors who struggle as we do, and to work toward getting published.

I’d been writing for a couple years before I found the community of authors I now know. It’s a lonely world out there without them. I didn’t realize how much I needed them to become the writer I am today. It’s that connection that we all need in this tough world. They’ve been there to encourage and edify me. They were there when I needed help composing a proposal for the first time. And, they were there when I started looking for an agent.

With the internet, it’s so much easier to find groups and others like ourselves. It’s amazing how God can connect someone from across the country to us in a very personal way. We should utilize these associations to help us continue forward. There are others ways to join that world.

  • As hard as blogging and social media can be, it’s a vital tool to hook us up to our audience, whether that’s your readers or support for writers. Start one if you haven’t already, and stick to it.

  • Local writing groups are a great way to meet people face to face who have a common goal. I loved it when I got a chance to attend a meeting with one of my friends recently. I left refreshed and ready to get back to my computer to get some work done.

  • Book signings are also a great way to meet authors and to make new connections. Authors love to share their journey, and many are eager to help fellow writers.

Step out and create some new connections. You’ll gain more than advice or education, you’ll gain new friends and relationships that can move you forward in your writing journey.

Show Me Don’t Tell Me

I’ve learned a lot since I had my first book published. The writing journey is an amazing one. When writers decide to buckle down and finish that first manuscript, reality hits. It’s hard. And it’s a lot of work. There’s all these rules you don’t know about until your work gets in front of an agent or editor or you join a writing group.

When I joined ACFW, a Christian writing group, my eyes were opened to a whole new universe. They had lots of workshops and online classes to help strengthen my work. That’s when I started to hear the buzz about showing versus telling in writing. My first instinct was to check out some of the best sellers out there to see how they did it. I was surprised by the impact a book had when the author showed their story.

Always show instead of tell to bring your story alive. Here are some examples to give you a clear idea what the difference is between the two.

  • Telling: She was mad.
  • Showing: Kira reared back and put her hands on her hips.

  • Telling: He felt upset.
  • Showing: He closed his eyes and lowered his head into his hands.

  • Telling: Embarrassment ran through Sabrina.
  • Showing: Heat climbed up Sabrina’s face and her shoulders slumped.

‘Was’ is a very common word that will tell instead of show. Erase that word too when at all possible.

Odds are if you have to use the word ‘felt’, you’re probably telling and not showing in most cases. So go back through those manuscripts and annihilate that word. Work on the best way to show your characters’ feelings through actions.

Telling an emotion, as in the third example, is a good sign you need to rework a sentence.

Once you’ve taken the time to turn your telling into action, your book will come alive to your readers. It adds a whole new dimension to your story and keeps readers turning the pages. What are some common ‘telling’ words you find yourself using? Send them to me. I’d love to hear from you.

Think Outside the Box Literally

I’ve been boxing up my house for weeks now. We’re about to move so boxes are in abundance around here. They’re lining the wall of my closet, my office, the garage. Every bedroom is packed and almost ready to go when the big day arrives. So seeing all this cardboard has given me an idea.

Sometimes in my writing I get snagged. I need to come up with a place and mood for the next scene, and nothing comes to me. Or I can’t picture how my characters are interacting with their environment.

Here’s where the box comes into play. What if I filled a box with items that’ll help me create the next scene? If I rummage through the box without looking, and pull a designated number of items out I can build the next section of my plot in an interesting way. You can employ the same idea with your work in progress too.

To start, you could fill it with pictures of places. Get your hands on:

  • Old magazines
  • Pictures of your vacations
  • Newspaper clippings

Add different objects to symbolize the weather. How about:

      • Cotton balls for clouds
      • A bottle of water for rain
      • A tennis ball for sun
      • Sunglasses to represent heat
      • Scarf shows that it’s cold 

And don’t forget one important sense that gets left out of writing a lot-smell. What about adding:

          • Potpourri sachet
          • Cologne bottle                  
          • Scented candles         
          • A banana peel in a bag to represent a bad smell

    Now you’ve got all the essential elements to get back on track, and you did it in a creative way. You could even take it a step further if you already know where you want the scene to occur, but you don’t know how to set it up. If you know you want the scene to be in the kitchen then what about putting kitchen items in the box? If an item gets pulled out, make the characters have to use the item. What about:

    • A rolling pin- It could be a dangerous utensil in a suspense
    • A pressure cooker- It’s comic what can happen when not locked properly or heated too high
    • A pitcher- tea anyone?
    • Apron- Is your male character only able to find a hot pink apron so he won’t mess up his suit?

    It’s fun to find new ways to brainstorm and develop your plot. Think outside the box literally and have a great time creating your next setting.

    Writer of Killer Romance and Encourager to Fellow Christians