Tag Archives | writing

The Tale of an Editor (So Far)

When I recently asked for some topics to blog about, Shan Dittemore asked: “Have you ever blogged about why you got into publishing? I’m curious.” No, I haven’t. Let me give you a recounting of how I became a writer and editor. Some of you who have attended my workshops know the story, so bear with me if you’ve heard this. I’m probably going into more detail than necessary, but so be it. Although I can’t pinpoint the origin of my love of books, I suspect it started with a gift I received on my eighth birthday.  Yes, it was a Hardy Boy book; The Melted Coins to be exact.  For the next several years I wasn’t a voracious reader, but I probably read more often than many of my peers. I continued with the Hardy Boys and, of course, what Baby Boomer boy didn’t eagerly devour the latest Mad Magazine? After […]

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Into the Toolbox It Goes

Do you ever get confused by the sometimes contradictory advice you hear from successful writers? Some may say “write every day!” while others say “write when you have something to say!” Or you may hear “Write the whole thing before you edit. Just get it on paper.” Then you’ll read about a bestselling author who labors over every page before moving to the next one. And we’ve all heard about “pantsers versus plotters.” Pantsers write as they go without knowing exactly what comes next in their story. Plotters outline and then follow their outline with only minor variations. So what’s a writer to do? I think the best way to look at it is to consider the various “rules” about writing as tools in a toolbox. Every time you learn a new “trick” to writing that has worked well for someone else, go ahead and toss it in your writer’s […]

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The Marriage Between Story and Language

A good book is ultimately the result of a happy marriage between story and language. This is true both of fiction and non-fiction. In non-fiction, we might sometimes need to substitute the word “information” for “story.” (But not always. Many non-fiction books are also stories). When a manuscript is rejected, it’s often because the writer has failed on either the story level or the language level…or both. The story level is simply a matter of: is this really a story? Does it have interesting characters, a good plot, a sympathetic theme, and an appropriate setting? If we can think of the human body as a metaphor, the story is the skeleton on which the author must hang the flesh of language. Without a firm and reliable skeleton, even the best writing will amount to no more than page after page of words nicely strung together. At the language level, we’re […]

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Felt Life

So how does a writer put “the secret” into action? Trying to teach a person how to do that is even harder than articulating the secret itself. It reminds me of the often-quoted Somerset Maugham line about writing. Maugham said: ““There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.” In my years as a writer/editor/bookseller/bookmobile-driver, I’ve seen and heard it all from writers as to how they work. I’ve heard some authors say they write their very final paragraph first. That way they know where they’re going. Others write the middle first. Others can’t get past page one until it’s perfect. So too with infusing your writing with the words that will help you capture a reader’s heart. I’m going to suggest a few things you might try….but with no guarantees. In short, most writers try one thing and then another until they stumble […]

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How to Succeed as a Christian Writer

Over the course of the next few blog entries, I want to talk about the factors that go into making a successful Christian writer. Each entry will briefly touch on one of the factors I’ve observed over the years. The first one, chronologically speaking, is: 1. Know your calling as a writer. Why exactly do you write? Are you serious about writing or are you a dabbler? Will you be briefly disappointed if you don’t succeed, and then move on to the next thing in your life? Or are you aware that this endeavor of writing, editing, and publishing is right where God wants you in spite of repeated rejections from publishers? Knowing your calling is from God will anchor you during those long hot days in the desert when nothing seems to be happening with your writing. How do you know if writing is your calling from God? First, […]

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