Saturday, November 22, 2014

Common But Extraordinary

Amos was another prophet God used to try to get His message across to the people. But, Amos wasn’t a well-learned man. He was a shepherd from Tekoa. To the people who would have read or heard about Amos back in Biblical times this would have been like saying he was just a farmer from an out of the way obscure town. But, God chose Amos.

The Bible is full of common, ordinary people being used by God and most of the time these people end up doing extraordinary things. Of course, God knows by choosing a common person and having him or her accomplish big things, people take notice. By trying to decide how the person was able to do such big feats, they might just discover the God who put the extra to the ordinary.
As Christian writers, we want to create relatable characters. Think of popular fairy tales and love stories. The main character is just plain and common or maybe even of lower status. We tend to cheer at the end when that ordinary character wins the happily ever after. Why?
Let’s face it. Many readers like to think they might just be able to have a happy ending like the latest book they read.

Your story doesn’t have to have superstars. Start with a common person who has a goal or an obstacle to overcome. Show your reader the character’s unique personality and qualities and gifts. Then show your reader how God shapes that character into something more than could have been possible alone.  

Think about yourself as a writer. God has gifted you with your own spiritual gifts and abilities. If He calls you to tell a certain story or relate a specific message, step up because He will give you the “extra” to make the ordinary become extraordinary for His glory.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Theme of Returning

Joel 2:12 says, “’Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ The Lord was using his prophet, Joel, to again bring forth the message of returning to Him. Such a vicious cycle would take place. The people would turn from God, follow other gods, slip into ruin, cry out to God, and He would extend the call to return to Him.
A return to God is a common theme in Christian literature. Very often the main characters find themselves involved in worldly things that have taken their focus off  the one true God. Throughout the storyline, the character or characters must have a realization and a returning to God.

Brainstorm a character who has fallen away from his or her relationship with God. What kinds of situations have occurred to pull that character away? List some possibilities.

Now that you have an idea of how that character could be pulled away, list some ways that God might reveal Himself anew to the character. Consider not only positive occurrences but maybe even problems or calamities that might get the character’s attention.

What might be the character’s reaction to the circumstances leading to the return? Will he or she ignore at first? Will he or she have to fall further to understand the need to return to God?

What will happen in that scene where the character returns to God? Will there be fasting, weeping, or mourning?

This theme of returning to God is common because many Christians can relate to falling victim to this very circumstance. Some like reading this type of story to show the hope that a person can return to God. Other readers might find encouragement in dealing with a strayed family member or friend.

As Christian writers, we might stray away from God or even His true purpose for our writing. It is easy to be swept by what is popular or what will sell to a publisher. But, if God has called you to write a particular story, there must be a reason. Some stories may be only for the writer’s benefit. Some stories may be for the benefit of a certain person or group of persons.

Now is the time to return to Him with all your heart.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tough Subjects

The book of Hosea deals with a tough subject. God instructs Hosea to take as his wife a prostitute. She also turns out to commit adultery within the marriage relationship. God uses this tumultuous marriage to illustrate the relationship between God and his people. God wanted the people to see that their lack of commitment to Him was like committing adultery and it hurt His heart in the same way a loving husband would be hurt.

As Christian writers we deal with tough subjects in our stories. Writing only about perfect people in a perfect world doing perfect actions is not realistic. Novelists write fiction but realism must be present for the reader to delve into the story. Even fantasy has to include enough explanation for the reader to accept it and continue reading.
Make a list of tough subjects. Here’s a few to get you started: divorce, abortion, and adultery.

Now skim your list. Underline the topics you have included in stories you have written or are currently writing. Of the topics not underlined, circle one.

Write your circled topic on a sheet of paper. Now brainstorm ideas for ways to include that in a story.

As a Christian writer, you want to make sure that you know and can convey God’s truths on your topic. Locate a concordance and/or commentary. Use the concordance to locate verses in the Bible on your topic. Read the verses and also read about those verses in a commentary.

Look back at your notes on ways to include this tough subject into your story. How could your story illustrate what the verses said about that topic?

Don’t steer away from those tough subjects. These are the things of life that real people are dealing with.

Have you dealt with one of your listed tough subjects in your own life? If so, you can incorporate your personal feelings and experience into your character. This will cause your story to be much more realistic.

As a Christian author, we never know how God might use these tough situations we include in our stories to touch a reader and possibly bring healing or understanding.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Daniel five tells the story of the strange hand that wrote on the king’s wall. He wanted to know the meaning of the writing so they brought in Daniel. The words were actually prophecy, revealing what would happen to the king. The prophecy came true.
Have you heard the expression, plain as the writing on the wall? This saying might be used when trying to tell someone that the meaning of something is very obvious.

As Christian writers we want our message or theme to shine through our writing. But, we don’t make it quite as plain as the writing on the wall. Our message is woven into our story, not preached outright.  

We often call this overall message the reader is to grasp the take-away. In other words, what is it that the reader will take-away from your story? Can your theme be deciphered? Are you communicating the whole meaning or purpose for your story?

Consider your work in progress or rough draft. Write out what you hope readers take-away from your story.

Now ask a beta reader or a critique partner to read your manuscript. Ask that person what they felt was the take-away.

Compare what you wrote out to what your reader said. Did the two match? Or, did your reader describe a different take-away? Did the reader have trouble identifying your take-away? Or, did the reader feel that the message was too blatant?

If your take-away needs focusing, consider what actions your main character could do that would further flesh out your purpose. Be careful doing this through dialogue. In this case, it is too easy to have your characters just tell the reader what the purpose is for the story.  
There’s a fine balance in weaving your take-away into your story. You want your reader to pick up on it but you don’t want to spell it out too clearly.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fiery Furnace

Daniel three gives us the story of the fiery furnace. Three Hebrew young men weren’t about to bow to anyone except their God. But, when they were thrown into the hot furnace, they came out unharmed. An unbelievable miracle from God.
As writers of Christian literature, we must be careful when we include miraculous events. We don’t want to include a miracle so unbelievable that we cause our readers to doubt more than believe in the God we are writing about. Also, we shouldn’t use a miracle to get our main character out of the jam we put them in just because we can’t think of any other way to get him out.

Often the best miracles from God we can use in our writing are the ones we have experienced for ourselves or have witnessed in someone close to us.

For example, a friend and co-worker recently asked me to pray for her husband. The doctor had ordered a MRI because of suspicious reading from another scan. The doctor actually mentioned the likelihood of brain cancer. We prayed. The MRI showed nothing. The doctor could only say that either the first test was incorrect or God had removed it.

With a definite emotional connection and an opportunity to witness a miracle, we can write about it, making it more realistic.

Do you have a miracle that occurs in your story? Have another person read that section and question them about how believable that scene is.

Do you have a miraculous occurrence to get your character out of a big problem or circumstance?

Here’s an extreme example. Your main character takes a boat out before checking it, but he needs to follow someone. He gets to the middle of the lake and the boat stalls and runs out of gas. And, all of the sudden, a helicopter flies over and he is saved.

Did you give some hints in advance so this rescue isn’t so out-of-the-blue? This rescue might seem plausible if the main character happened to be on his phone with his love interest as he hopped into the boat. The love interest might know that the boat will soon be out of gas or that the main character will need assistance if he catches who he is chasing. She might phone her helicopter friend or maybe she flies and takes off after him. This seems much more believable than just having a helicopter come to the rescue at the exact moment he runs out of gas.
We need to be careful with our use of miracles in our stories. We don’t want our reader to shake her head and say, “There’s no way.” We want our reader to say, “Wow, God did a miracle there. I wonder if He could do that in my life?”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Now for the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2 the king has a dream that needs interpreting. Daniel is called upon to interpret the meaning of the dream for the king.

Supposedly our dreams can be interpreted to tell something about us. The dream may show a fear or some feeling that hasn’t been expressed openly.
As a writer, a dream might spark a story or even push you along in a scene from your work in progress. For this reason, a writer should keep paper and a writing utensil near the bed.

Can you remember a recent dream? Write out a description of that dream. What kind of meaning can you derive from the dream?

Use your dream as the basis for a story. Can you use the actual occurrences in the dream as the beginning of your story? Or, do you need to only take the meaning from the dream as the basis of sparking your story?

Dreams are one place you can get story ideas. Simply by utilizing one tidbit of your dream, you can derive a whole story.

By concentrating on the meaning you have derived from your dream, you might create the theme-base for a story.

Don’t waste those dreams. Use them as sparks for story fodder.

In the case of the dream Daniel interpreted for the king, the dream was a prediction of the future.

What do you hope your future as a Christian writer will look like? What dream has God placed in your heart regarding your writing? Take just a moment to “dream.” Write out your dream for the future of your writing. What can you do today to make that dream come true? 

Monday, August 25, 2014


Ezekiel 37 finds the prophet in a valley filled with very dry bones. The Lord asks Ezekiel if these bones can live again. The prophet wisely replies that only the Lord would know if they can. When Ezekiel prophesied to the bones, they began to rattle and take on flesh and tendons. What once were only dry bones becomes a living army.
Have you ever gotten to the point in reading where the story becomes as dry as the bones spoken of above? You find it easy to lay the book aside or maybe even skim ahead to a “good part.”

As writers we don’t want to give our readers a reason to lay our books aside or skim ahead. When we come to a point in our story that seems to drag or be dry, we need to add some flesh, tendon, and breath.

Of course not every scene can be action-packed and suspenseful, but there are strategies to assure the scene doesn’t fall flat.
Locate a slow scene within your work in progress. First, are there things in this scene that really aren’t necessary? Could you delete parts and still have the meaning intact? If yes, then get rid of it.

If the scene is needed, how could you add some tension to make it more potent? Does the scene involve dialogue? If so, really study the interchange between the characters. Could you add in some tension through the characters’ words and actions? Or, could you have the inner thoughts of one of the characters not match what she is saying to the other character?

Make sure that every scene counts and moves your characters ahead in their final goal for which they are striving. You may find that adding additional obstacles or surprises in between the “big” conflict scenes will ramp up your story and move it along.

Strive to write each scene minus any “dry bones.” Take time to check all of your story’s scenes.

As a Christian writer, you have the opportunity to communicate truths through your stories. Don’t give your reader dry bones. Make sure you add the flesh, tendons, and breath. Give life to your stories by working hard to improve your scene-writing with every scene and every story you write.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Lamentations is a title of a Bible book that needs very little explanation. To lament means to grieve, mourn, weep. Not likely the place a reader might go for encouragement, or is it? Right in the middle of Lamentations three are two verses full of hope.

Lamentations 3:22-23: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Think of this as a fresh batch of love and compassion from the Lord every morning. That truly is faithfulness. Whatever circumstances come our way, we can always find God’s dependable love and His tender heart turned toward us.
Christian writers have the responsibility as well as the honor of illustrating Biblical truths through their writing. Think of an incident from your life or one you have seen in someone else’s life in which the truth from the above verses was shown. Could you use that situation in your story to have your character come to understand or experience God’s compassion?

Remember, your reader experiences things vicariously through your characters. He or she might even be able to relate to the happenings in your story and the situations faced by your characters. You could inadvertently encourage your reader in his or her life.

God is faithful to us in keeping His many promises. As Christian writers we must be faithful to His Word and His character. We write not only to entertain but to minister. Pause to thank Him for the privilege to write and ask His continued blessing on every word.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Jeremiah 29:11 is a well-known verse in which we are told that God has plans for us, not to harm but to prosper us. He is in the business of giving us a hope and a future.

How about your story? Do you have a plan for it? Even a seat of the pants writer needs some direction for her plot and information about her characters.

A simple character chart can provide helpful information as you write out your story. Your chart can have column titles such as these: Character name, Physical traits, Personality traits, Character at beginning, Change in character, Ending character. With these simple titles you can fill in details about your characters as well as include a simple idea of how that character will change from the beginning until the end.

For plot, you might write down something as simple as the description of how it begins and how it will end. Or, you can be more in depth and write out a timeline of events.
It is a good idea to at least employ some kind of planning so your story doesn’t just meander from one happening to another with no apparent connections or meaning.

How about your writing plans? Have you considered the steps to accomplishing what you feel God wants you to accomplish?
With no plan or goals, we might find ourselves meandering just like an unplanned plot. Consider taking about an hour or so and praying about the goals God would want you to shoot for. Don’t go so broad or so huge that you have no way to achieve it. Try setting and writing down some goals.

If you are not yet published, you might set the goal to finish your current work in progress and then have an editor look it over. You could also set a goal date to submit your manuscript to a publisher. You might even just need to discipline your writing time by setting goals for number of words written in a day or number minutes spent writing. Think of the goals that will encourage you to move ahead toward the future of your writing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Jeremiah is often referred to as the weeping prophet. He had such deep feelings for the people he prophesied to that he was driven to tears.
Can we cause our readers to feel for our characters and their predicaments? How do we conjure the needed feelings inside of ourselves to write in this compelling way? Here are a couple of suggestions.

Allow the reader to feel the character’s emotions right along with the character. How? Don’t tell the emotion by naming it. Show by giving the character’s reactions.

For example: A sad character might ache and crumple in a heap on the floor with tears flowing uncontrollably. Doesn’t that make you feel the sadness more than just saying the character was sad?

Create relatable circumstances. One way to do this is to pull from your own experiences.

For example: From my own experience, I can express the heartache of infertility. And yet, I can’t fully express the loss of a spouse since I have never faced that situation.

Channel your experiences through your characters and they will become more real and alive.

In your work in progress, search for emotion words like sad, angry, disappointed, happy, excited. Put yourself in your character’s place at the moment that feeling occurs. Now, describe the feeling without using the actual emotion word. Would this make for a stronger connection with the reader?

Now, make a list of experiences from your own life. Have you or a close loved one had a serious disease? Have you experienced a car accident? Have you gone through divorce, adoption, or homelessness? Study your list of experiences. Could that experience or the feelings during it be used to help make your character’s emotions more real?

One way to use this is to pinpoint a certain experience from your life and write a description of it from your viewpoint, including all of your feelings. Reread this description. Does it resemble a situation or emotion your character is experiencing? Use that to rewrite the description as a scene involving your character. Would this scene connect the reader with your character?

Do you have other Christian writers you know? Being a writer isn’t the only aspect of an author’s life. Everyone has other things going on their lives. Have you ever considered that writer might need some compassion? Have you thought about asking the other writer if you can pray specifically for her or him? Who can better understand the struggles of a Christian writer than another Christian writer? 

Friday, August 8, 2014


Isaiah 53 – Isn’t it amazing that so many years before Christ came Isaiah prophesied about Him? And, not only hints about Jesus, but specifics. There were details spelled out about Jesus and His death. With the details presented by Isaiah, there could be no missing the Christ when He came. The prophet’s words were a foreshadowing of Who was to come.
Foreshadowing means to give a hint or suggestion of beforehand.

As writers, we might employ this tactic in our stories. We can give our readers a hint of what will happen later in the story. This is especially noticeable when writing a mystery-type story in which the author allows the reader to slowly solve the mystery by planting clues earlier in the story.

Could your story benefit from planting some foreshadowing along the way? Think if there is a hint or suggestion you could include now as to something that will occur later in your story. The hint doesn’t have to reveal something that will occur at the end.

For example: Suppose your heroine had a bad experience with a police officer. She has just met a great guy. But, the heroine doesn’t know that the guy is actually an undercover policeman. The guy has no reason not to pursue the heroine because he knows nothing of the history. The reader knows that these two are headed for a conflict when things come out.

Here’s an example for a mystery story: Suppose you have a person who is guilty of something in your story and your heroine or hero is trying to pinpoint that person. The reader will also be trying to identify the guilty party along with your main character. The best way to allow the reader in on the pursuit is to drop little hints about the person’s identity throughout the story. The challenge is not to give too much that your reader easily figures it out and stops reading.
Though these two examples are different, each is a form of foreshadowing. Why not try to plant a few hints in your story?
As a Christian, we might think of the plan for our lives being revealed ever so slowly by God as foreshadowing. Some of the hints we receive might be in the form of affirmations, showing we are moving in the right direction.

As a Christian writer, what “hints” has God given you that you are following His plan? Have you received positive feedback for your writing? Has a reader shared how your writing encouraged them?   

Thursday, July 31, 2014


One of the well-known verses from Isaiah is when the prophet is before God, and God is asking who shall go for us. Isaiah states, “Here am I, send me.” This speaks of a call or purpose resting on his life.

Sometimes as Christian writers we might include a character who is answering a call to do something for God. This call can be played out in their vocation or even by having to leave their normal life and venture into a whole new job or location.

Choose a character from a work in progress. Consider this scenario: Suppose that character had to change jobs, going into a new situation with new co-workers. What challenges might she face that could jeopardize her Christian witness? What kind of stand would she have to make? What kind of affect could she have on those around her? In what ways could this new situation cause her to grow in her faith?
It can be hard to stand up for Christian morals and principles. Just as you might portray your character experiencing the unpopularity that often comes with sticking with the call of God, you as a writer of Christian literature may experience the same. But God still asks, “Whom shall I send? And, who will go for us?” We must still answer that we are willing to write His message even to a resistant world. It is our calling as Christian writers. It is our calling as Christians.

What message do you feel God wants you to get out in your writing? Are there certain truths that burden you? Write His message!

Monday, July 28, 2014


The Song of Solomon portrays words between two lovers. One might say it is a book of romance, showing some of the physical aspects of lovers.

As Christian writers of romance stories, we strive to show the romantic feelings of our characters without going too far. We want the reader to see the attraction between our heroine and hero and yet we relegate sexual acts to behind closed doors. This means that physical intimacy beyond kissing, holding hands, or embracing is not played out on the page.

Though it takes more work, a good writer of romance can cause sparks to fly simply by the look in a character’s eyes or the tingle emitted by holding hands.
Create a romantic scene between your heroine and hero. Start like this: His hand edged closer to hers …

What would the anticipation of their hands finally touching make her feel and think? What sensations would she experience when his hand encloses around hers?

God is the author of romance because He is the one who created marriage. He realized it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and He intended a godly marriage to be a little slice of Heaven.
This fact does mean that as Christian writers even though we may have characters who have had sex outside of marriage or even committed adultery, we work to make sure our readers know God does not condone those things. We strive to have the message of our work be in line with God’s Word. Because of this fact, we must be in a constant attitude of prayer, letting God lead us when we write.

Many skilled Christian romance authors exist and give us numerous examples of how to write these romantic scenes. Seek out books written by these authors that stand as good role models for writing romantic scenes.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Ecclesiastes is probably most known for the passage that says that there is a time for everything and every purpose under heaven. This message proves itself in our everyday lives. We experience times of laughter and times of weeping. We see times of sowing and harvesting. The list could go on.

Though the subject of timing has been mentioned in an earlier lesson, a writer can never learn enough on any given subject and improvement is always the watchword.
The timing and pacing of your story must be a balance between moving the story along and yet not speeding by too quickly. By making things happen too quickly the reader loses out on some of the anticipation that can be created for the reader. But, if the writer puts in too much of this anticipation-building time, the reader could lose interest.

The writer needs to keep the story moving, showing the characters’ actions. However, there is no need to bog the reader down by showing every action. For example, the reader doesn’t need to read all about the car ride to a destination unless there is something significant revealed during the car ride. To explain that the character puts the key into the car and puts it in drive and pulls from the parking lot into the traffic might slow down the pace. The reader doesn’t have to see all of that. They know that the characters had to do all of these things to drive the car to their destination.

Another pace killer is providing too much description of setting and character. This tempts the reader to skip ahead because they feel the action slow and may even feel like they are removed from the story.

Randomly choose a scene or chapter from your work in progress. Read the section aloud. Could you sense the pacing in this section? Did the pace feel like what you set out to create? Or, did you notice a slowing with too much description? Or, did you notice that the culmination of the scene happened too quickly? Rework accordingly.

Do you believe there is a time for everything? It is hard to accept that our timetable doesn’t always match up with God’s. But, think of it this way, that rejection you received may mean that your manuscript isn’t supposed to be accepted now. The Bible says there is a time and a purpose for everything. The purpose He has for your writing may not be ready at this time to be fulfilled. Matching our pace with God’s can be difficult because we like to pull ahead, but He sees the full picture. Christian writer, you can trust God’s timing and pace.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Proverbs is packed with many wise sayings from King Solomon. These verses show the results of God’s question of the king of what he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom. He was known as the person who had the most wisdom in making decisions, more than anyone before or after him.
In an earlier exercise, we discussed the sage or wise character that we as writers often include in our stories. This character influences our hero or heroine in hopefully positive ways.

Now, let’s focus on the actual wisdom we might impart through our stories. As Christian writers, we want to make sure that any truths we share are in line with God’s Word. However, we should also strive to insure that our stories don’t become preachy.

Let’s consider an example. Suppose we want to base a section of our work in progress on Proverbs 19:3 which states: “A man’s folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.” In The Message this same verse is quoted this way: “People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?”

In this case, the writer would first show the character and her flaw. Then, that character would be involved in scenes in which she would blame God through internal dialogue and through dialogue with others. As the story unfolds, that character would somehow encounter the truth of the fact that she was responsible not God. This truth could be driven home by the character finding scripture that tells this or maybe a friend speaks openly with her. She could even learn this vicariously by observing another person going through a similar circumstance.

Two keys here: Make sure that the truth is in line with the Word of God. And, make sure that excessive dialogue or scripture quoting doesn’t occur, sounding preachy.

Why not give it try? Open your Bible to Proverbs. Skim for a truth that your character could learn. Now, create the scenario in which your character either shows the flaw or does something wrong which will have to be confronted or changed. Now, how can you get the truth presented to your character naturally and truthfully?

Let’s face it. An entire book could be based upon one truth from Proverbs learned by your main character.

As Christian writers, we are faced with the responsibility of presenting God’s truths correctly. How can this be accomplished? We must follow the advice given by our Lord when He says, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask for it.” We must always be in an attitude of learning from God. We must utilize His textbook daily to ingest the wisdom and truth. A Christian writer will find it difficult to write the truth if he or she isn’t being nourished with it.  

Monday, July 14, 2014


“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:10-12 NIV

Restoration and renewal are often needed in our spiritual life. These verses from Psalms are almost like listening in as the Psalmist prays to God to accomplish these tasks in his life.

When a person experiences some type of restoration, there are outer and inner evidences. For example, a person might have a relationship restored and would show evidence of this through facial expression or body language. But, that person would also have internal reactions that might not be clearly seen by others. For example, if the person experienced stress with this strained relationship, the restoration might alleviate that stress, maybe settled stomach or calmed nerves.
These inner and outer reactions to circumstances are necessary to show to our readers as well.

Make a list of restorations. Here’s a few to get you started: restored health, restored marriage, restored friendship.

Now choose one of the above. Label two columns: Inner and Outer. List possible inner and outer indications of that restoration.

Write a scene sharing a few of each, inner and outer, occurring with your character.

As Christians, there really should be inner as well as outer evidence that we have Christ. What inner and outer evidence do you notice in your life of being a Christ-follower? After thinking about your own inner and outer reactions and evidences, could you more effectively show those through your writing? Have you experienced some restoration in your own life? If so, those inner and outer evidences you experienced can make it easier for you to show this through your characters.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Let me re-introduce you to Creative Christian Writers Crank Up. Wow, that's a mouthful!

What can you expect from this blog?

First, you will travel through the Bible and encounter different events and passages. These will be used to inspire some kind of aspect from writing.

Second, you can expect to get some mini-lessons or tidbits about those writing aspects.

Thirdly, you will be given a prompt or some kind of creative activity to practice your writing in that area.

Lastly, I will leave you with some kind of encouragement or challenge from one Christian writer to another.

If you aren't already a subscriber, please consider signing up to receive these short lessons into your email inbox.

Take a moment to scroll back down through the earlier posts to get an idea of the creative sparks I like to light in you, the Christian writer. I post each Wednesday and Sunday evenings. I urge you to leave comments on the exercises that you find helpful or encouraging.

Now, what are you waiting for? Let's crank up the creativity!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How About A Blog Hop?

Attention all my creative Christian writers: How about we have another blog hop?

I would like to ask you to choose an exercise you especially liked or one that produced some writing you enjoyed from CCWCU. All participants will display their writing exercise on their blog, and I will provide a link from here to all of you.

You will post your writing on your blog on Wednesday, July 9th.

Please leave a comment if you are going to participate. I will contact everyone through email. If I don't have your email address, I will request it. I will list all of the blog hoppers' links here. I will also post links from my Facebook. You may promote as well. I will list the links so you can post them on your blog as well.

A blog hop is a good way to bring other readers to your site and "introduce" yourself.

Let's have a little fun and share some of our creative writing exercises.

Who will be first?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Psalm 46:10 is a very familiar verse. In the NIV Bible is reads: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Message Bible translation puts it this way: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
There are times that we must step back from anything that is impeding our vision of God. So much in this world clamors for our attention. We must remove the distractions and focus on God, especially in times when we need direction or peace that only God can give.

In your current story, does your main character come to a moment when he or she needs to take time to come apart from the noise and gain a God-perspective? You might have heard this called a “come to Jesus moment.”

If our stories depict a straying from God or from His plan, we might need to create a scene where the main character steps away consciously and maybe even physically.

Make a list of possible ways to “step out of the traffic” of life to get this renewed and intimate view of God. Here are a few to get you started: go on a short trip, go to a restaurant alone and sit in the back, sit in a park, or get up in the middle of the night while others sleep.

Find a point at which your character has to make a conscious focus on God. Could this be more effective if the character were to do one of the things you listed? Choose one of the ways you listed and write out a scene in which the main character retreats and is given that renewed focus on God. Then, analyze whether this scene would make this moment in your story more effective with its addition.
Do you as a Christian writer take time to “be still” and know that He is God? Not just alone time, but with God. To keep your relationship with the Lord intimate, you have to spend time with Him. This is time just focusing on Him and showing Him what He is worth to you. This isn’t a time of seeking something from Him.

Take time to “step out of the traffic” of life and bask in a God who wants to love on you. While Jesus was on earth, He took time to get away and be with His Father. Shouldn’t we do the same?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Figurative Language

Psalm 23 is possibly one of the most well-known passages in the Bible. David employs the use of figurative language to paint for his readers the picture of God and His relationship with His children. Through the use of metaphor and personification, we can get the idea of just how God cares for us.
Since David was a shepherd, he had a clear understanding of the connection between the shepherd and his flock. He uses this knowledge to give just an inkling of the connection he feels that God has with His children.

Figurative language can be defined as language that goes beyond the normal meaning of the words used. This device is used to make writing more clear or better understood. There are three basic types: simile, metaphor, and personification.

Simile compares two different things using like or as, while a metaphor compares without using the words like and as. Personification is when an idea, object, or animal is given the characteristics of a person.

The use of figurative language can enhance a reader’s understanding. Have you used one of the above devices within your work in progress? If so, check to make sure that it enhances your story without detracting from it. Share the passage with someone and ask specifically if she can understand better than if the figurative language were omitted.

Are there areas in your story where the use of simile, metaphor, or even personification could improve your writing? Sometimes using these devices can help in “showing” a character’s emotions even more clearly than naming the particular feeling.

Consider this from the Psalm: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .” David could have been literal and said, “Even though I experience sad and depressing times . . .” But, which one causes you to actually feel that sadness?
Locate an emotion in your story. Create a simile, metaphor, and personification for that emotion. Would the addition of one of these enhance the meaning for your reader? If so, add it in. Search out other areas that your story doesn't seem as strong and try this exercise again. Sometimes the addition of a little colorful language can be just what is needed to make your words sparkle.

Because our finite minds have a hard time grasping an infinite God, this is why we see the use of figurative language in the Bible. David used these devices and so did Paul. As Christian writers trying to express our message through our writing, we might find these devices helpful in getting our meaning across to our readers.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Good Guys and Bad Guys

Psalms - David crafted the words to the Psalms during the many ups and downs in his life. Psalm One speaks of the righteous man and the wicked man.

The righteous man delights in God's laws and doesn't follow in the way of sinners. In the end, he prospers, and God watches over his way.

The wicked man will perish, not succeeding in the end.

Often it seems the wicked man prospers and the righteous man suffers. But, God promises that ultimately, the righteous will prevail and the wicked lose.

Isn't this just the way it is in a story involving the good guy and the bad guy? Ultimately, our protagonist will win in the end, but the reader wants to see her work for it. The villain has to make headway and even seem to be winning. This raises the tension.

Study your bad guy. Have you developed him enough? Can your reader get an understanding of why this villain is tugging in the opposite direction than your protagonist? Your villain will be more believable if his motives are more than just taking a victory away from your good guy. The bad guy has goals and reasons for what he does. It's okay for your villain not to be completely bad.

Locate the first time your antagonist is met in your story. Is there more description that should be added so your reader has more of an understanding of your bad guy?

As writers, we sometimes feel we aren't winning in getting our message out for others to read.

Psalm 1:3 says, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."

As Christian writers we must remain grounded in God and His commands. We will yield fruit in season. We may feel that "the other side" is winning, but in the end, we will prosper.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gets Worse Before Better

The book of Job is definitely an example of circumstances getting worse before taking a turn for the better. At the beginning of the book, Job has it made with his riches, children, and good reputation. It’s shocking when God actually tells Satan to consider His servant, Job, for testing.

To think that God knew Job’s heart well enough to know he wouldn’t deny Him no matter what Satan would bring upon Job or take away from him.

It seemed that the hard times just piled on, and Job’s so-called friends pushed salt into Job’s wounds. But, in the end, Job was restored and given more than he had before.

True godly character is cultivated during times of testing.

As Christian writers, we must take our characters to low points. We must thrust testing times upon our main characters. These are the scenes in which we can illustrate reliance upon God and the building of godly integrity in the end.

Find the point at which your main character is experiencing a test or low point. Could the addition of further tests and hard times make for a more poignant lesson?

Make a list of possible problems your character could face. Use Job as an example. Are there riches that could be lost? Are there family or friends who could be lost? Could the main character’s health be lost?

Write out the inclusion of an additional problem into your story. Could this addition make your main character’s victory over these tests sweeter? Could a stronger sense of godly character be developed?

As Christians we must often go through the tests to gain more insight and integrity. Christian writers might be tested in various ways to gain these same characteristics. As writers we can share the message that God will see you through tests and that He can bring good from the most horrible situations. Draw from your life experiences. In this way, your reader will sense real emotion and transformation shining through your writing. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Right Time

Esther. Who doesn’t love the story of a Jewish girl turned queen?

This story is about God putting a person into the right place at the right time. Esther must show bravery when the odds are stacked against her. She has to accept the fact that even though she might perish for going into the king’s presence, she must proceed to have a chance at saving her people.

Her uncle uses that well-known line from scripture to encourage her: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

When writing a story, the writer must also contemplate the right place and the right time in which the story should occur.

If the story needs to maintain a distance between the characters, meaning they cannot have instant contact for the story to work, the modern-day setting may not be appropriate. With the technology of today in which people have instant access to one another from any place in the world, it is less likely that a person could be cut off enough for certain story events to happen.   

Consider this: Suppose a hero and heroine are separated for a time. Even though the hero tried to find the girl, they are only reunited much later.

In this scenario, a past time might serve better since there are so many avenues in which someone could be located through the advanced technology in present day.

Analyze the time you have your story set in. Write out a description of the time your story is set in. Is it modern, historical? Does it make sense for all of your plots and scenes? How would your story play out in another time? Would this time better serve your story?

As Christian writers we obviously want to be able to sell our work. We might be tempted to write what is popular at the time. But, stay true to the message God has called you to write.

Write out a description of the message you feel God would have you to communicate through your writing.

Post this description/calling in a place that you can reread and be reminded of it when you sit down to write.

Who knows that your message could be for such a time as this?

Sunday, May 18, 2014


The book of Nehemiah gives an account of the man named Nehemiah who got a disturbing report from his homeland. He was a part of the exiles in Persia, but he was in service to King Artaxerxes.

One day Nehemiah inquired about Jerusalem and was told that the wall lay in ruins and the gates had been burned down. He wept over the conditions of his home.

When he next appeared before the king, his expression and demeanor gave away his depression. The king asked why he was so sad, and Nehemiah explained about the news he had heard. The king asked what he wanted. Through God’s leading, Nehemiah received letters and permission to return to Jerusalem and repair the wall.

While repairing the wall, Nehemiah and the people experienced much opposition, but they carried on the work and completed the wall in record time.

In our stories, our main character must often display some of this stick-to-it-ness. Sometimes she may even have to be stubborn to burst through opposition.

Study your work in progress and list the various road-blocks your main character must conquer. Are the problems hard enough? Does your main character struggle enough? Though it may seem harsh, the tougher the obstacles means the tougher your character can be and the more sweet the victory.

Let’s face it. By forcing your main character to develop some stubbornness and push on through, your reader will stay connected with that character and pull for her.

How are you with sticking with the task? Do you allow opposition to pull you away from your writing too easily? Are you listening to those negative comments?

Being a writer isn’t easy. Being a Christian writer is impossible, except through the strength and stick-to-it-ness only found in the Lord. Take a lesson from Nehemiah. Stick to the calling of God and see what miraculous feats you can accomplish!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Ezra chapter seven includes a letter sent from King Artaxerxes to Ezra, the priest and teacher. The letter gives Ezra carte blanche on taking people back to Jerusalem to the temple. The king also allows for much money, goods, and precious metals to be given to Ezra in use to God. Basically, the king ordered that whatever Ezra asked for should be granted.

In the last passage of the chapter, Ezra clearly states that God is to be credited for putting it in the king’s heart to honor God’s house. He also makes it plain that because God’s hand is upon him, he would follow the directives.

Can you imagine the surprise when the treasurers read the letter and had to give over whatever amount of precious goods Ezra requested?

In our instant message world, the art of letter-writing seems to be fading. However, have you ever been going through keepsakes only to find an old letter? Maybe it was a love letter. Maybe it was a letter from a dear friend who moved far away. Maybe it was a note from a grandparent or parent expressing some sentiment.

What if a main character in your story discovered an old letter? Where did she find it? Who is the writer and who is the receiver? What shocking thing does it reveal? What affect does this have on your character?

Write out the scene when your character discovers the letter and reads it for the first time.

When was the last time you used your writing gift to craft a letter to someone special? Take a moment to think of a person in your life who could use encouragement today. Compose a letter to that person. Include a scripture and even a personal anecdote.

You may be surprised what an encouragement can come from a snail-mail letter. Always be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading when called upon to spur on another brother or sister in Christ.

Even more pointedly, write a letter to a fellow Christian writer, encouraging him to keep true to the call of writing for the Lord, knowing what a lonely profession writing can be.