Sunday, March 30, 2014


First Samuel eighteen shows the jealousy of King Saul. He heard the people praise David for his conquering of tens of thousands while they only credited Saul with his thousands. Saul became angry and watched for an opportunity to kill David. There was fear mixed with the jealousy Saul felt toward David for he knew that the Lord was with David.

Jealousy is defined as covetousness, envious, and resentful. It implies a hostility toward a rival or of one believed to enjoy an advantage.

Writers aren’t supposed to name the emotion a character is experiencing. This is known as telling. A good writer will show the emotion through the actions and words of the character. In other words, we avoid this: The girl was sad. We try to show it like this: The girl’s shoulder’s slumped and shook. A low whimper escaped and tears dripped off her chin.

Now for your writing challenge: Write a scene showing a character’s jealousy. Avoid using the word jealous in any form.

Reread your scene. Can you sense the jealousy? That’s what our readers want. They want to feel that emotion not be told about it.

How are you with jealousy? It can be difficult to see other writers get their break into publication when you feel you are stuck on the sidelines. Do you have difficulty congratulating those who are successful in publishing and selling their work?

Take a moment to write down all of your jealous feelings. Now, ask God to remove those feelings and give you a new outlook and attitude. Then, if it helps you to get rid of those feelings, crumple or rip up the page and throw it away. When you start to feel that jealousy rear its ugly head again, remember you “threw” them away and replaced them with godly attitudes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


First Samuel seventeen is that well-known story of David and Goliath. The giant was a big obstacle to the Israelite army who remained hunkered down, shaking in their armor. But, David had a different perspective. He saw his God as bigger than any giant, and God gave him victory over Goliath.

As writers, we can’t be afraid of throwing big obstacles at our characters.

Make a list of big obstacles that your main character could face. Here’s a few to get you started.
Personal illness
Loss of a job
Car accident
Dead ends (as in solving a mystery or a problem)
An opponent (as in another character against what the main character wants to accomplish)

Obstacles can take many forms and degrees of seriousness.

Choose an obstacle you listed and create a scene in which a character meets with this obstacle.

Look back at your scene. Were you too nice? Rewrite, ramping up the effect of the obstacle on your character.

Would your second version have your reader sitting on the edge of her seat, wondering how the character is going to get out of this? That is just the reaction you’re looking for in your reader.

Though the advice when writing is not to avoid obstacles, we tend to run scared to encounter obstacles in our own lives. Just remember, your God is bigger!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


1 Samuel 8 – Samuel was growing old, and the sons he had appointed as judges didn’t walk in the right ways as their father had. The elders came to Samuel wanting him to appoint a king. Though God warned that the king would take much from the people, they still demanded to have a king like all of their neighboring nations. So, God gave them what they asked for.

This chapter can be hard to read because it is clear that this was a wrong decision, and the people will end up paying dearly for getting what they didn’t need.

As writers we have to allow our characters to make blatantly wrong decisions sometimes. Tension is raised in the reader when it is clear that the character will have to pay. However, much can be learned from looking back at wrong choices, and character growth can be shown.

Create a scene with a character making an obvious wrong choice.

Jump ahead to when the character realizes what was learned.

Could this addition make a stronger character? Could this scenario make more tension and depth in your story? If you answered yes, consider adding these scenes into your work in progress or filing it for future use.

As Christian authors, we must constantly stay in God’s will so we won’t make a wrong decision. There might be times when we are tempted to choose to waver in what we know to be right just to be published or get noticed. But, God’s plan and timing is right and perfect no matter how impatient we become.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


First Samuel three is the familiar story of God calling to Samuel. But, Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice. Scripture says in the seventh verse that Samuel “did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” The third time God calls, Eli wisely tells the boy to answer: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel had to learn to discern God’s voice. After this experience with the Lord, Samuel knew when Eli spoke and when God spoke. But, he first had to be introduced to God’s voice.

This is true in writing. As authors, we must make sure not all of our characters sound alike. We must create distinctive voices so our readers recognize and connect a character’s dialogue with that character. Look at the dialogue in your work in progress. Are there distinguishing characteristics that signal which character is speaking? Simply using a certain pet word or phrase can bring distinction to a character. Some characters may speak in short, choppy phrases while others may be wordy.

Choose a specific area of dialogue in your manuscript. Try to incorporate some distinguishing characteristic to a character’s dialogue and see if it makes that character stronger as well as more recognizable and individual.

As Christians, we need to insure that God’s voice is recognizable. The best way to know His distinctive voice is to study His Word and pray. Remember, He will not contradict what He has said in the Bible so when Satan tries to mimic and trick you, don’t be fooled.

As Christian writers, we are responsible for making sure that we don’t contradict God’s voice but represent it rightfully and faithfully.

Extended exercise: For a little more study in distinctive voices, pay attention to dialogue around you or on television. Look for those distinguishing qualities in a person’s speech then make note of it so you can use it in your writing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


First Samuel one records the desperate prayers of Hannah, pleading for her infertility to be reversed. God heard her prayers, and a son, Samuel, is born. But, Hannah gives her son back to the Lord after his weaning by taking him to the house of the Lord where she had prayed for him in the first place.


She visits Samuel each year at the time of the sacrifice. Eli, the priest, blessed her and her husband by asking the Lord to give Hannah more children to replace the one she gave up, and God did bless with more children.


What a sacrifice to give up the very thing you prayed and pleaded for!


Choose a character from your work in progress. What kind of sacrifice could he/she make that would show a growth in character? Write a scene showing the sacrifice.


Why did Hannah have to give Samuel up? Would she have focused too much on him? We can’t be sure. But, we have to trust that when God asks for our sacrifice, it’s for the best.


What sacrifices is God asking you to make in order to write for Him? Time? Money? Control? If He asks for you to sacrifice something, it’s for the best and in His plan.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Ruth – there are so many themes to focus upon in this Bible book. The reader might notice Ruth’s loyalty and care of her mother-in-law or her persistence and obedience.


However, the romantic could catch Boaz’s reaction when he lays eyes on Ruth. He asks about her. He admires her. He speaks with her, giving her special privileges and providing for her. Boaz is smitten when Ruth lays at his feet, appealing to him as a kinsmen-redeemer. Knowing another would be first in line for her hand, he sets out straight away to assure he will be able to take her as his wife.


Oh, that first glimpse! Imagine a setting for our hero and heroine’s first meeting. Write a scene from the hero’s point of view. Make sure to express his feelings, physical reactions, and thoughts.


Boaz knew a “good catch” when he saw her, and he also fulfilled a family duty by taking Ruth as his wife. God had a plan for these two to get together. Boaz turns out to be David’s great-grandfather. What a lineage!


Never doubt that God is in the details of our lives.


Extended exercise – Write your first glimpse scene from the heroine’s point of view. Which is stronger?









Sunday, March 9, 2014


Judges sixteen tells the story of Samson and Delilah with its soap opera-like betrayal from a loved one. Delilah finally got the secret to Samson’s strength out of him which led to his ultimate downfall.


But, in the end, Samson did return his focus to God in a prayer and was given the opportunity to destroy more of the enemy in his death than when he was alive.
What forms of betrayal can you list?
A few to start with might be:
A friend tells a damaging secret
A significant other turns out to be someone else/different identity
A person befriends only to inflict hurt
List as many as come to mind in five minutes.
Now, circle one on your list and write a scene portraying that betrayal.
Judas betrayed Jesus, but everything worked into God’s redemption plan.
Reread your betrayal scene. How could the situation be redeemed?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Judges six is about Gideon. God tells him to go and save Israel. “But Lord,’ Gideon asked, ‘how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’”

There’s something encouraging about God using the ordinary people. This is what I love about writing Christian fiction, depicting normal people like myself being led by God to accomplish His purposes in their lives.
In your eyes, what is an “average Joe?” Describe that ordinary guy. What kind of modern day feat could God accomplish through Joe? Have Joe explain in his own words what God did through him.
Gideon and his small army defeated the Midianites armed with trumpets, jars, and torches. Their job was to make noise, and God caused the enemy army to turn on each other.
Have you felt inferior or undeserving? Maybe you’ve experienced fear when it comes to accomplishing God’s will for you. Don’t concentrate on what you can do; add in the God factor.
Think back. What is something you have accomplished that without God there’s no way it would have come about?

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Decision Time!
Joshua 24:15 – “But if the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (NIV)
The Novelist’s Bootcamp by Todd Stone says that turning points are decisive moments. Donald Maass in his book, The Fire In Fiction, speaks of that moment when everything changes. Maass says that scenes have outer turning points and inner turning points. The outer turning point is the way things change that everyone understands, while an inner turning point is the way the POV character changes as a result.
Choose a scene from your work in progress. Identify the decisive moment, the moment of change. Do you show the effects of the turning point on the POV character? Try rewriting the scene by putting yourself into the POV character’s shoes. Express the effect.

This verse in Joshua is a popular one seen often framed and hung in homes. But when Joshua said that he and his household were going to serve the Lord despite what others did, he wasn’t just turning a cute phrase. He was challenging his fellow Israelites to a decision that he had already made.
Have you been decisive in your commitment to write for the Lord? Have you experienced a “turning point” in your writing? Describe that decisive moment.