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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Losing Words

I try not to do two verse posts in a row, but this one just really grabbed me.


July 30, 2011

The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.
-- 1 Samuel 3:19

Samuel began his ministry at such a young age and was so important in bridging the generations between the period of the Judges and the period of the Kings. During that whole time, God was with him and empowered his ministry, making his words true and effective. Let's pray that God does the same with his spokespeople today. May God use his servants effectively all their lives and not let any of their words fall to the ground.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Ask This Question



July 24, 2011

Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions.
-- Ecclesiastes 7:10

The only thing we get by spending our time looking in the rear view mirror is a big disaster in our front windshield! Our best days as Christians are always ahead. Jesus has promised to return and take us home to God -- what better future could there be! So let's not get distracted with nostalgic cynicism. We can thank God for his past blessings, but let's not waste the present with pessimism. Let's make a commitment to redeem our time and trust that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead also holds our future in his hands.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

News From Cec Murphey

Cec says: Today I learned that the Kindle version of my book When a Man You Love Was Abused is available for $1.99 through Amazon. The special will run through next Wednesday, July 27. If you know someone who loves a man who was abused, or if you know a man who was abused, tell them about this offer.

This Saturday, July 23, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I will be involved in an important seminar to help those who have been abused and those who love people who have been abused.

Main sessions include: I Ought to Be Healed by Now and The Lies We Believe.

Breakout sessions include: When a Man You Love Was Abused, When a Woman You Love Was Abused, and Finding Hope in the Heartache.

For more details on the When Someone You Love Was Abused seminar, click here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Story on Backstory

Creating: Making Your Reader Love Backstory

by Randy Ingermanson

If you want to kill your novel, the quickest, surest way to do it is to throw in a big lump of backstory on your first page. Or in your first chapter.

Yes, sure, I've seen published novelists start off with a boatload of backstory. I've seen jugglers juggling burning torches. I've seen an archer shoot an arrow through the balloon atop his wife's head. Blindfolded.

But all of these are risky behaviors. If you want to take risks, there needs to be a payoff somewhere. If you don't know the payoff, then you have no business taking risks.

Backstory, by the way is good. If you don't know your characters' backstory -- all the stuff that happened in their lives up till the time your story started, then odds are good that your story is going to be pretty shallow.

You want to know the backstory of your novel.

The trick here is to make your reader want to know that backstory too. The real trick is to make your reader beg for it.

You don't do that by piling it on in the first chapter, before your reader cares about your characters.

How do you make your reader beg? There are several ways, but they all come down to the same thing. You write a compelling story with strong characters and sharp plot twists.

A plot twist is an unexpected change in the story direction. Your reader thought she knew your character, thought she could predict what would happen next, and was delighted to learn she was wrong. That darned character zigged when he should have zagged. Why?

Most of the time, it's because of something in his past. There's a reason. And now your reader wants to know that reason. Now she's ready for backstory.

The rules for backstory are really pretty simple:
* Just in time.
* Just enough.

"Just in time" means only when the reader needs it and only when the reader wants it.

"Just enough" means that the reader doesn't need to know everything you do. Leave the reader wanting more, not wanting less.

Remember that at least one major category of fiction is all about discovering the backstory -- the mystery.
Once you've got a corpse in the picture, the whole story is about figuring out who did it, why he did it, and how he did it. That's backstory, pure and simple.
But until you've got a corpse, none of that is of any interest.

You have at least six good ways to give your reader backstory, when the time is ripe. Here they are:

* Interior monologue
* Dialogue
* Narrative summary
* Flashback
* A nonlinear timeline
* Research

Let's talk about each of these in turn.

Interior Monologue

Interior monologue is the sequence of thoughts that pass through a viewpoint character's mind. The reader can hear these, either as word-for-word thoughts or else as the gist of what the character is thinking.

Either way, this is a fine way to give your reader little snippets about your character's backstory.

The key thing here is to treat interior monologue backstory like salt. A little is good -- it makes you thirsty. A lot makes you gag.

If you're going to use interior monologue this way, make the backstory references necessary to the character's line of thinking, and keep them short.

Sign up for Randy's free newsletter for more on this topic.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 26,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Do You Plan Your Stories?

Interesting post today over at Paperback Writer. Here's the beginning--check it out and let me know if you plan your writing (or are a "panster?")

from Paperback Writer:

Yesterday I talked about working on several writing projects at the same time and preparations to make in order to try this. Today we'll discuss how to do the actual work without driving yourself batty.

For each of your projects you now have a one-page outline, a notebook, folder or file for the paperwork, and a dedicated space for all research and reference materials. From here you can go three ways, depending on how you like to work your writing plan:

1. Write a detailed synopsis for each project.
2. Write chapter summaries for each project.
3. Work off the one-page outline for each project.

I don't like guessing what to write, and there is no such thing as too much planning for me, so I always go with #1 and a modified version of #2 (once I have the synopsis written, I divide it into approximate chapters.) This also automatically generates my daily task list, which we'll get to after we cover the other options.

If you're not interested in writing a synopsis for the project, you can put together chapter summaries based on your one-page outline. You can get as detailed or keep it as simple as you like, but you're basically answering this question for each chapter: What happens now?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Here I Am!


July 10, 2011


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send?
And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
-- Isaiah 6:8

Church worship on Sunday is not the goal of our life here on earth. As important as church worship and personal praise are, they are only part of our goal. We are here to glorify God with both our lips and our lives, with our hearts and our hands. With the world around us caught up in Satan's traps, God wants us to hear his call to us in our church and private worship and respond by saying, "Here am I. Use me!" Then he wants us to enter the world redemptively, making a difference in our "public worship" of ministry.

Loving God, Rock and Refuge of my soul, thank you for giving me the experiences I've had in my life. Thank you for the abilities you placed in me while you fashioned me in my mother's womb. Thank you for the gifts your Spirit molded in me when I became your child. Now, dear Father, please help me to know how and where I am to use these gifts in your Kingdom and to bless those in the world, so that I can help bring others to you, help build up the Body of Christ, and bless your people. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

New Cover!

The cover for the re-release of "Samaritan" (first published in 2007 as "The Good Samaritan.") Don't have the release date yet!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Verse of the Day

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
-- Galatians 5:1

Friday, July 01, 2011