The Many Uses for Secondary Characters

So, no matter what you’re writing, you probably have some characters that aren’t as important as the MC(s), but they’re just kinda there. The awesome thing about these seemingly unimportant characters? They can become important. Remember, you’re the author. You can more or less make them do what you want. However, it does sometimes feel like the story has taken on a life of its own. ūüôā

There are numerous uses for a secondary character. One of the best, they’re expendable. If you need a character to get killed off, but you can’t bear to do it to a main character, consider fashioning a secondary one for that purpose alone. *wicked chuckle* Make them likable, too. *wicked chuckle*

Anyway, another great use for your secondary characters is how they can subtly influence the plot to steer it in a desired direction. For instance, I once wrote a draft in which an SC caused the main character to end up in this particular situation, which was the climax. She did this unintentionally Рit was her presence and what that brought about in the story.

You can also have one or two SC(s) create a subplot. However, be aware that subplots can be used to “kill some time” and not to move the story along. You pretty much want everything – or close to everything, at least – to move your story along.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD A SECONDARY CHARACTER APPEAR ON SCREEN . . . OR PAPER?

It depends on their level of importance. You may have them start out in the first draft as a secondary character and end up by the last draft as an MC. It happens. ūüôā But how often a strictly SC will appear depends totally on the way you’re using them in the story. Typically, these characters in my stories have very important roles,¬†but remain expendable.

DO I RUN THE RISK OF DISTRACTING FROM THE STORY WITH A SECONDARY CHARACTER?

That’s always possible, but if writing a first draft, don’t worry about it. You can edit later. Just remember if you’re bringing in an SC, it is probably to build on or move forward the story.

And now, LET’S CHAT.¬†How do you use secondary characters in your story? Have I left something out? What is your opinion on subplots? Pour yourself some apple cider – or coffee, if you prefer – and I’ll bring dessert. Healthy dessert, mind you. ūüôā Anybody up for carrot cake?

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Pinterest – Is it Good for Writers?

So, Pinterest is pretty popular now, and you have to admit, fun. But it’s remarkable how many writers actually use this social media outlet to connect with readers. Is it worth the time? I’ve been on Pinterest for quite a while now, and building up a following is a¬†S-L-O-W¬†process. Using this outlet requires a great deal of time. The more pins you save, the more diverse your boards, the more people you’ll reel in.

Plus, readers love to connect with a favorite author any way they can. I know I always love seeing a story through the eyes of its writer, and what they save on Pinterest is a good way to see that.

But that’s the reader’s side of things. How about the writer’s?

We’re writers. We’re¬†people,¬†I think. We’re busy. So, is the time that it takes to build up a foundation on Pinterest actually worth it?

As I’ve yet to publish a novel, I can only speak on this topic from two standpoints – an aspiring writer, and a reader.

AS A READER . . .

I look for an author I like on Pinterest. I devour whatever it is they have to say about¬†their¬†work through what they pin. In addition, when I know somebody has a new book coming out, I’ll look for hints on that story’s Pinterest board. ūüôā

AS A WRITER . . .

I love it. Pinterest enables me to organize my ideas, share them with others – or not, as I often start a board as a secret board – and collect bits of inspiration for my WIP. See, I’m weird about my characters. I can’t see them. So Pinterest helps me nail down in my own mind what my characters might look like. That’s a serious plus for me.

THOSE ARE THE PROS, AND THE CONS ARE . . .

It is time-consuming. You don’t have to have a ton of boards, but the ones you have should be filled in so a potential reader can stay a while to explore.

If you’re dedicating a lot of your account to writing, you may want to consider having boards like “Character Inspiration” or “Writing Inspiration” or “For Readers.” Stuff like that, as it could help to bring in more people.

So, basically, I have found Pinterest very helpful and a lot of fun. Please share your opinion and experiences with us! It would be a huge help for us newbies. ūüôā

By the way . . . if you’re interested in my new WIP, hop on over to Pinterest. I’ve just published the previously secret storyboard for y’all! Check it out!

Let’s chat.¬†Let me know your experiences with Pinterest. (And don’t forget to drop by the new storyboard.) ūüôā

Crafting Characters – the Protagonist

First, my sincere apologies for wandering so from this blog. A full explanation will be available at the closing of this post, so in the meantime, let’s chat about characters. They’re so important, you know. Especially your MC, your protagonist. Just like there’s a way to nail the antagonist of your story, there’s a way to nail this one, too.

SHOULD THE MC ALWAYS BE ON THE GOOD SIDE?

In short, yes. And no. You see, depending on where the plot takes your story, you may want this character to start out on the wrong side. Plenty of good books take this approach and, personally, I love it. However, let me caution you against the mistake I’ve made in the past – if you take this approach, outline ahead of time¬†how the protagonist comes to “see the light,”¬†so to speak. Logistics in this area are crucial.

So no, the MC doesn’t have to be on the good side all the way through. Though I wouldn’t recommend you end your story with him/her on the dark side. That could be a slippery slope. ūüôā Ooo, but say you had a trilogy and ended the first book that way . . . ¬†Hmm . . .

SHOULD THE PROTAGONIST BE PERFECT?

Isn’t that what we all want? A hero? A fictional someone so infinitely better than us that we can wish we were like?

Sure, we do, but that isn’t life, and makes for a bit of a fluffy story. In fiction, we want¬†life.¬†Bring out the darkness, show it for what it is, make your protagonist a broken soul, but bring about victory at the end. That’s the whole point. Victory. Hope. Light at the end of the tunnel. Besides, a perfect-no-scars-or-mistakes hero who saves the day simply won’t be relatable.

God alone is perfection, and we cannot be. Neither should our fictional characters.

SO THERE Y’ALL HAVE IT!

There are, of course, many more ways to and no to craft a protagonist, but let’s save some for another day, shall we? These are good for starters.

And I’m back into blogging after a long absence. Explanation – I was insanely busy. We all were, what with harvesting the garden, milking the goats, harvesting the garden, setting up summer pastures, harvesting the garden . . . ¬†You get the idea, right?

Now that we’re rolling a little easier again, you tell me something – what writing things and bookish things would you like to see on this blog? We share this writing adventure. We’re in it together. Let’s chat!

Writing a Synopsis – How to and How Not

Don’t forget to stop by my new blog, Diary of a Teenage Prepper, for fun homesteading updates!

 

It doesn’t seem like it would be that big of an issue, right? A synopsis just states what the book is about. No problem.

If only . . .

Today, let us delve into the tricks, the how-tos and how-not-tos, of writing a synopsis.

HOW-TO #1 – READ THEM

The best way to figure out how to write a synopsis is to read them. How much info do they give? How much do they withhold? Take note of key words and phrases. Is the title of the book incorporated into the synopsis or left out? Above all, does it make you want to find out what happens? All of these things are critical points of crafting a gripping synopsis.

HOW-TO #2 – PRACTICE MAKES ALMOST PERFECT

I can’t think of any synopsis that is “perfect.” They’re just blurbs, more or less, and perfection is vastly opinion, but anyway – #2. Practice writing a synopsis for your WIP. No matter the stage, write one out and read it over and over again, compare it with the ones you’ve read, read it to someone else. All of these things should help smooth out a synopsis for your work.

HOW-NOT-TO #1 – MAKING IT TOO LONG

I have heard it said that a common problem among authors looking to self-publish is a synopsis that is too long. Just remember, you’re giving the reader a taste, not the entire banquet. You aren’t writing a book report in which every detail must be disclosed. But for that matter, don’t make it too short, either.

HOW-NOT-TO #2 – THINKING IT’S NOT IMPORTANT

A synopsis, in my opinion, is every bit as important as, say, the cover or the first line. It is the invitation for a reader to pick up the book and read it.¬†A synopsis is important. You don’t have to stress over it. Maybe try incorporating a few of these thoughts to get you started. I’ve even used the creation of a synopsis to help in my outlining, and believe me, it does help.

ONE-LINERS AND THE WHAT-IF QUESTION

A grabbing sentence to start off a synopsis can be a pretty great idea. So can a what-if question. After all, a creative what-if setting in a plot – “What if gravity worked in the opposite way?” “What if the sky was orange?” “What if humans were the size of ladybugs?” – can pull a reader in all on its own. So if you’re story has its own what-if, why leave it out when creating your synopsis?

And because she’s one of my favorite authors, I can’t resist sharing her fantastic what-if-question synopsis. Nadine Brandes wrote the Out of Time Series, and her opener for the first of those novels was entirely gripping. Here’s why: “How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?” Who can resist¬†that? I don’t want to know the day I’ll die, so if this character does . . . well, I have to know about it. ūüôā

TELL ME YOUR OPINION! What pulls you into a book? Is it the cover? Synopsis? First line? Last line? (I should¬†hope¬†it’s not the last line.) Let me hear from you in the comments! We’ll chat about bookish things.

Crafting Characters – Antagonist’s Apex

There’s a trick to crafting your antagonist. As much as it may seem like their only purpose is to throw a wrench in things for your MC(s) and be hated by the readers, that is not entirely true. The best way to nail down a solid antagonist is to give them a side that can be related to and felt for by the reader and by you.

Yep, I said it. If you can’t swallow that yet, that’s okay. Keep on!

EXAMPLES OF THE ANTAGONIST APEX

What I’ve called the antagonist apex is where the reader is brought to a point or a side of the character that makes them stop and grumble, “I thought I was supposed to hate him/her” because they’ve suddenly found him/her to be slightly less hateable than they thought . . . ¬†Is that confusing? Here’s a good example.

 

HG
Martin Cummins as Henry Gowen in “When Calls the Heart”

In the popular frontier TV series When Calls the Heart (all you fellow “hearties” please raise your hand in the comments!), you will find one of the best examples of a remarkably solid antagonist. Henry Gowen, as portrayed by Martin Cummins, has so many different levels of character,¬†good and bad,¬†that it’s hard to keep up. He is seen as despicably evil at times and is completely despised, and as someone deeper at other times, someone with more on the inside than just greed.

Because of this, he cannot be universally hated. This makes him a great antagonist, and makes whoever wrote his character a really good writer. ūüôā

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

This is one of the more, I believe, optional parts of writing. You by no means have to make your antagonist 3-dimensional, but it is highly recommended. Fill in the cracks Рmake them human. Give them a cause we can understand Рnot agree with, but understand. Give them a motivation that is clear and realistic. But above all, make them human. Give them qualities and depth that leave the reader Рand maybe even your protagonist Рfeeling just a tiny bit sorry for them.

AND NOW . . . let me hear your opinion!

Have you had any experience with these things in the past, whether in work you’ve read or written? Do you agree or disagree with this approach to an antagonist? Do you feel the reader¬†should¬†despise that character? Why or why not? Don’t be shy! Let’s chat.

Happily Ever After – Really? How to Nail Your Story’s Ending

“And they lived happily ever after.”

We’ve all heard it a million-quadrillion-zillion-times-two times. So-and-so saved the day, so-and-so was happy, and¬†they lived happily ever after. But did you ever stop to think how unrealistic that is? It’s the stuff that belongs in age-old fairy tales and bedtime stories, but¬†not¬†in today’s fiction.

Fiction, even if it is unrealistic fantasy or dystopian or sci-fi, must have an ending that is believable. You can wrap things up as much as you want – you can even smack the horridly cliche “happily ever after” thing at the end – but it won’t make your manuscript better.

My advice for nailing the ending of your story?¬†Don’t write what’s been written a thousand times over.¬†Make it memorable. Make it stick. Make it tough. Make it solid.

EXAMPLES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Duh. The obvious ones are the fairy tales. And that’s just fine. Let happily ever after stay with the fairy tales and let us move on. However, if you are penning a retelling of a fairy tale,¬†don’t let it be happily ever after.¬†Now¬†that¬†would be good.

Another example of this sort of cliche ending is¬†Pride and Prejudice,¬†the movie. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t speak for that, but the movie is certainly “happily ever after.” All the important characters – except maybe Lydia – have¬†found their truest love and all is well. And while perhaps this movie isn’t the best example in the world,¬†the movie¬†The Princess Bride¬†certainly is. That’s as cliche happily ever after as it gets. Just saying. And don’t get me wrong, I love that movie!

EXAMPLES OF NOT-SO-HAPPILY

Not-so-happily is what you need to nail down a solid ending for your story. Yeah, it can be tough, it can be annoying, because you love your characters sooooo much, they just have to have it all together! Yeah, no.

Okay, so some examples. Let’s see.¬†Lord of the Rings. Here’s probably the best example. The day is saved, but the characters still have to deal with the fallout, and the aftermath that it results in causes the not-so-happily ending to the trilogy. Don’t let that discourage you from becoming a LotR fanatic, though. It’s epicness at its finest! ūüôā ¬†As a writer, learn from J.R.R Tolkien.

lordoftherings

Let me see . . .  One more example . . .  *fishes through bookshelf*

Ah! The River of Time Series by Lisa Bergren. Awesome books, awesome characters, good plots . . . and even better, a not-so-happily ending to the series. Now, both of these examples were wrapped up fine in the end of the story, they just were not happily ever afters.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE CROSSED THE HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER LINE?

If you can look at the end of your story and say, “They all lived happily ever after.” ūüôā ¬†Or more specifically, if you can say that “all’s well that end’s well” or “all my characters and readers and fans are so happy with this ending.” That’s dangerous. Don’t forget, you can’t please everyone. Better to please the One you’re ultimately writing¬†for¬†than to please the ones you’re writing¬†about.

HOW DO YOU FIX YOUR ENDING?

Easy as pie. Ironic that it’s taken about five-hundred words so far to explain a few simple things.

Leave some loose ends, especially where secondary characters are concerned.

Allow mistakes made during the story to have some residual effect towards the end.

Leave room for character growth. This is so important. If you’re writing a series, this is more geared to book one, but if you’re writing a standalone, it’s just as crucial. Leave room for characters to grow some more after the book is closed. People want a hero, but a hero without flaws is wasted space.

If you’re writing a series, let every book¬†before the final one¬†end in a cliffhanger. I don’t recommend a cliffhanger for the last book, if you want to keep your readers. *grins an evil author grin and pulls more examples from the shelf*

FINAL NOTES

A not-so-happily ending is as important as it is because happily ever after isn’t life. Many readers want happily ever after in a book, so as a writer, you’ll have to answer that part for yourself. But I’ve answered it for me, and I hope you can find some wisdom from this if it applies to you at all. I don’t want my writing to be wrapped up in a neat bow. Period.

AND WHAT ABOUT YOU? Leave feedback. I’d love to hear how you, my friend, have or have not conquered the happily-ever-after trend in your work. Whether you’ve discarded it from your writing or not, I’d love to hear about it! Share your notes, and leave your experiences behind for others to learn from.

God bless you all this June, and my Highlights and Goals post is coming next post, just so you all know.

My Top 5 Resources for Writers

We’re going to look at a few different resources for writers that I’ve found either helpful or very helpful in the past. Finding go-to sources for your work is invaluable, but sometimes hard to find. I only have five to share today, but I hope you find them helpful!

1.  HELPING WRITERS BECOME AUTHORS

I can’t say enough about this blog. It holds a wealth of information that is completely indispensable for you as a writer. Everything from editing to outlining, to grammar to info dumps. Helping Writers Become Authors is an outstanding site, easy to navigate. It is updated with something new every few days or so, and the response rate for those who comment is awesome. Check it out today!

2.  FAITHWRITERS

You’ve probably heard me chat about this place before, but I’m going to say it again – Faithwriters is everything an aspiring writer could dream of. Friendly, helpful critiques, competition, opinions on your work from professional editors, feedback directly from the judges on the quality of your work, help in marketing, encouragement, reading material . . . and a whole lot more.

3.  THESAURUS

Yeah, you read it right. There’s nothing more helpful now and then than to take a “bland” word and find something more . . . appetizing. The online thesaurus is a great site for finding synonyms and antonyms. Plus, while you’re right there, you can check out the next writing resource . . .

4.  THE DICTIONARY

Funny thing, huh? A writer using a¬†dictionary. That’s just weird. Okay, whatever, it’s an invaluable resource. Find new words, nail down definitions, find synonyms, find more new words . . . ¬†Yeah, it’s important. Expand thy vocabulary, ye writer, and ye shall succeed.

5.  THE WRITERSAURUS

This is one I’ve had very little personal experience with, but what I’ve seen from this site looks really, really great. Info on writing, publishing, self-publishing. It looks good. Be sure to check it out. I’ll be looking into more as well, taking a look at different articles and such.

NEED SOME MORE?

Well, there are hundreds out there. Or maybe thousands. Or maybe hundreds¬†of¬†thousands. You’ll find some that work better for you than others. These are my top five. I hope you are able to find use for some of them. Let me know what other resources I’m missing. What are some of your favorites? There are so many out there, one could never pack all the good ones into¬†one blog post.

So tell me, what are your favorites? Have you used any of these five in the past? What was your experience? Share it with us! You’re feedback could help others conquer their writing. Having good, solid, dependable resources is invaluable to any writer, but especially to those just starting out.

My Take on Time Travel in Fiction

Otherwise known as portal fantasy, time travel in fiction goes back a long ways. If you’re not too familiar with this as a genre, you are likely aware at least of C.S. Lewis’¬†The Chronicles of Narnia. Today, I’d like to share my take on portal fantasy. Pros, cons and where we authors may be able to cause a literary revival. All this is just my opinion, since I personally despise time travel. That’s why I’m almost finished writing an entire portal fantasy novel. ūüôā

Okay, I’ll cut to the chase. Writers have a very unique opportunity to reach audiences with this genre, and that is key to getting your message across. In writing, my personal message is generally one of Christ, of His light, of His love. Yours may be different, but no matter what point you’re trying to get across to a reader, portal fantasy is a bit of a hidden gem, a portal in itself for reaching people,¬†especially¬†teens and young or new adults.

WHAT MAKES PORTAL FANTASY SO DIVERSE?

It speaks to the reader. It causes them to a see a whole new world, the one you have created in your story, or maybe another time period or planet or galaxy! The possibilities are limitless.

A common plot or subplot in fictional time travel is, not surprisingly, romance, as it is in Lisa Bergren’s¬†River of Time Series. That does, of course, make for a bit of a hassle. I mean, main character goes to another time period or, even better, another word and falls in love. How inconvenient.

But no matter what motives or subplots appear in your work of portal fantasy, it is all a web that ensnares the imagination, the unspoken dreams, the creativity of a reader while a crafty spider – you – comes along and whispers the underlying message, the passion burning in your heart that you must share.

WHAT ARE SOME CONS OF PORTAL FANTASY?

Ralph Waldo quote

Even if Emerson wasn’t talking about time travel (which I suppose he could have been) when he said this, I think we’ll insert portal fantasy into it today.

From C.S. Lewis and Narnia right down to the many authors of young adult time travel today, there is a common theme.¬†The character(s) are brought into this new “world” via the calling of an ancient prophecy.¬†And many writers of portal fantasy continue to insert this into their work now.

Now, I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing. How can I when my WIP includes a prophecy? ūüôā ¬†What I am saying is that, if portal fantasy is to reach its full potential, those of us writing in this genre should consider all options regarding this common – I did not say cliche – trend.

For example, you may want to consider having a faulty prophecy. One that many people believe and trust, but is actually not fulfilled by the character(s) who show up in their world. Or maybe insert a prophecy that is not fully believed, or that is vague. I say these options only because of this:

Portal fantasy is a very unique and opportune genre/sub-genre. Because of the popularity of using a prophecy as a launch pad, this may, in the long run, weaken the full effect of your story’s message. NOT straight across the board, as you may have a plot that captures the essence of a prophetic fulfillment and utilizes it to its full potential. These are simply things to keep in mind when outlining and planning a portal fantasy novel.

WHY IS IT SO UNIQUE? IT SPEAKS TO THE IMAGINATION.

Portal fantasy speaks to the imagination of your audience, captures their attention and creates a megaphone to reach them through. It can resound. It can inspire. It can bring forth your message in a perfectly subtle and powerful way, because of the genre’s popularity.

In addition, time travel may never exist in real life, but there are many who dream of it. Writers of fantasy must plunge forth in this genre, carry it to new horizons, and with it, scale new heights. Write on, brave wielder of the pen!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW DOES THIS GENRE SPEAK TO YOU? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE WORKS OF PORTAL FANTASY?

Emotion in the Written Word

Emotion in the written word¬†is one of the most important things to learn when you’re starting out, or if you’ve never taken the time to learn it before. Emotion is everywhere. We feel happiness, we feel joy, we feel fear, and we express that through words, through actions, even through facial expressions.

So why should we leave those things out in the written word?

The expression of emotion brings the reader into the heart and soul of the character. Emotion is your window to capture their attention, to make them empathize with your character, to bring them to the place where, for the sake of the poor, tortured soul in the book or the happy, always joyful heart, they must keep reading. It is how you speak to the reader.

Still not convinced? Okay, read these examples.

1. ¬†Polly was sad. OR . . . ¬†The sorrow weighed upon Polly’s shoulders, an immovable burden.

2. ¬†Arthur liked puppies. OR . . . ¬†At the sight of the Labrador¬†pups, Arthur’s squeals and giggles could not be contained.

3. ¬†Jordan looked like he was afraid. OR . . . ¬†Jordan’s eyes darted every which way, his skin paling to an ashen hue while he tried to hide the trembling of his hands.

4.  Kath hated apple cider. OR . . .  As the glass of apple cider was set before her, Kath felt the familiar repulsion mount in her body. Her lips curled back in disgust, her nose wrinkling in an undignified manner while her hosts eyed her curiously.

Well, those are rough, but you get the idea, right? Showing, or expressing, emotion captivates the reader. They are one with the character, even if they hate puppies or they love apple cider. I mean, really. Who could¬†hate¬†apple cider? That’s just crazy.

But you see what I mean? You love apple cider, but because of the expression of Kath’s emotion and her distaste for the liquid, you can sympathize. You might even want to reach through the screen and take the glass for her. Well, and drink it, of course. No ulterior motives there, you’re just concerned for Kath,¬†right?

And Jordan. What is he so afraid of? We must read on. And Arthur! Oh, how sweet, the way he loves those puppies. You may hate dogs – who could hate puppies?! – but you can still manage a smile, a sense of sharing in the excitement for the little boy who has his hopes in the little bouncing dogs.

In short, expressing emotion builds a bridge and establishes a relationship between you, your reader and your character.

HOW CAN YOU ADD IT TO YOUR WORK?

That’s the easy part. Expressing emotion goes hand-in-hand with showing vs. telling, which I won’t get into right now, but while you’re adding depth and detail to your work, it will become more and more natural to dig in to the meat of the emotion of your characters and share what YOU imagine exists in their hearts with the person who is reading your story.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Didn’t I just spend a whole blog post on that? Okay, here are a couple more examples, since you seem to want them. ūüôā

5. ¬†Rebecca was so scared. OR . . . ¬†Rebecca fought to restrain the terror that seized¬†her from all sides, terror that reflected the panic born from the presence of one’s worst nightmare come true.

6. ¬†Billy felt so happy today. OR . . . ¬†Billy’s smile stretched from ear to ear, growing by the heartbeat and fed by the excited chatter in the next room.

See what the last example does? It describes a reason for the joy and an even better window into Billy’s emotion, while remaining a simpler window than that through which we see Rebecca’s fear. That is valuable, too.

So, basically, the expression of emotion through¬†showing rather than telling¬†is a priceless commodity to garner in your work. It establishes characters, it reels in the reader’s attention, it jumps up and whispers, “You can’t look away now.” Note, it doesn’t yell that message. It speaks it softly, conveying it in a way that is skilled and¬†does not need to scream to get the point across.¬†That’s another thing that will grow with your talent – the ability to whisper a message that lands as a punch.

Maybe someday I’ll be at the point where I can speak from experience and do a whole post on that last line. ūüôā

 

TELL ME YOUR OPINIONS! How do you express emotion in your writing? Is there a sentence you might like a second opinion on for showing emotion? Bring it on in the comments!

The Days of Simple Beginnings

“Do not despise these small beginnings . . .”

We, as writers, tend to think of the big picture. The biggest dream, the best novel, the perfect plot. Writing, like absolutely everything else, requires time, effort and patience. Our simple beginnings can be described as the first tottering steps of a child, or maybe even the first intrepid inches achieved by crawling.

This week, I was acutely reminded of how far I have still to go. I’m not crawling anymore, but my steps are far from strong. The dreams I have surpass writing. I want more than anything to be a teacher of writing and to edit, especially for beginners. Sometimes I think this is even more important to me than writing itself.

But today I am very aware of the time this will take, the effort it will require, the patience I must have to endure it. I hope my journey can inspire you on yours!

roadgoes

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – does is help or hurt?

I need to do a whole post on this soon. We all need it. When I first started writing, really writing, at the age of ten, my parents were thoughtful enough not to tell me how horrendous it was. I suppose that was a good thing, since my confidence in the art and in my talent was like a little sprout in springtime Рvery delicate.

But, as time went on, I garnered professional opinions, which were inevitably constructive criticism. These critiques, mostly achieved through Faithwriters and their wonderful team of authors and editors, were invaluable. Without them, I would still be in the crawling stage. So I understand if you’re afraid to get those kinds of opinions on your work – I still am! – but they are essential to your growth as a writer. You may ignore or avoid them entirely, but you will never be as skilled in this art as you could be.

Does it help? Yes. Does it hurt? Sometimes. Is it a little embarrassing? Always.

Just remember, we’ve all been there, and many of us still are. You never stop growing, you never stop learning. Soak up what the masters can teach you. They’ve been¬†there, and often they’re goal is to see you get to be as good as you can.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WANT TO QUIT

Oh, to never feel this way! I’m the last person to talk to on this subject. I’ve quit so many times, I’ve lost count. But every time, I feel empty. Like an extinguished flame. If you’re going through this right now, I can only say two things – one, take it to God. Maybe you’re supposed to give it up, maybe you aren’t. But God will show you, one way or the other. Two, if you’ve ever felt God leading you¬†towards¬†writing, DON’T GIVE UP! Maybe you need a break, maybe you need to plow through.

But do not give up. There will be difficulties, there will be painfully small beginnings, there will be disappointments. You must dig deep, you must answer the question we all have faced or will face – “Why do I write?”

IS IT WORTH IT?

Only you can answer that. You¬†must¬†answer that, but you must do it for yourself. Only you can say whether it is the right path for your life. But believe me, you’ll know. Perhaps not right away, but you will know. Not by the opinions of others, not by the judges’ rejection, not by your friends or family, not by the unpopularity of what you write, not by the prize money or the lack thereof, not by the contests lost or won, not by any of that and more!

I know it is worth it because I can’t live without it. I have followed my heart and the calling of Christ. I don’t have any regrets. So, whether I’m crawling or mountain-climbing without a safety rope, I will continue to wield the sword of the pen and, by the grace of God, endure with humility and patience these days of small beginnings.

 

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin . . .” Zechariah 4:10

 

Has any of this resonated with you? What stage of this journey are you at? What advice can you share with others to encourage or inspire them?