Wednesday, April 30, 2014


First Chronicles lists the members of the family tree from Adam to Abraham. Reading through this book can become rather monotonous for the faithful read-through-the-Bible reader. But, each name represents a unique person with his own story.

Authors are often asked where their ideas come from. Such answers include: newspaper stories, listening to people talk, sermons, other stories, dreams.

Here is an idea to try. Take a look at your family tree. Flip through old photo albums or scrapbooks. Look up your family on an ancestry website. As you look into these documents, note occupations, events, and tragedies.

Choose an ancestor and research more about that person. You might even ask older members of your family about this person. Secure any documents like newspapers that speak of this person. Do a bit of research about the time period the person lived.

Now set aside the factual documents and imagine meeting this person back in the time they lived. Write a description of the person just like any character you would place into a story. What you don’t know about the person, make up.

Find an event from that time period or use an event you discovered in your research of your ancestor. Now, write a scene in which your character experiences your event.

Reread your character description and scene. Brainstorm – let your mind wander.

Do you see a potential story blooming from your research? Go for it!

You are a member of a family tree, and God placed you in this time and in your family. This lineage was published in the Bible at God’s inspiration. Why? One reason might be that every person is important and has his or her place in God’s eyes. He has given each person gifts and abilities and made them unique to accomplish the plan He has for them.

Fast forward about one hundred years. Someone is looking at the family tree and finds your name. As you are researched, the person finds out about you and the things you accomplished or events you were in involved in. Write out a short description of what the researcher learns about you.

More than likely this description reveals the dreams God has planted inside of you that you wish to accomplish in your life. Work to make it come true.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


In 2 Kings 22 the priests come across the Book of Law while some repairs were being done to the temple. When King Josiah heard what was contained in the law, he ripped his robe. The king realizes he and his people haven’t been following the instructions outlined, which means they haven’t been following God’s commands.

King Josiah calls for the book to be read to the people and priests and prophets. The king renewed the covenant to follow all of the Lord’s commands, and the people agreed, pledging to follow the covenant.

The words of the law from God had been right there in the temple but until found and communicated, they could not be put into place again as guiding the people and King.

Hearing the words read aloud moved King Josiah, and he acted on it.

Pick up your work in progress. Return to the beginning and read the first three pages aloud.

Did you find mistakes in word order, spelling, or word omissions? Don’t disregard the value of simply reading your work aloud. Mistakes stand out as well as the feeling of a “hole” which is a place in your manuscript where something seems to be missing. Reading aloud is helpful in areas of dialogue to check for the natural feel of the conversation and the need for action beats.

Choose a favorite scripture verse that speaks to you in your life situation right now. Read the verse aloud. Now, commit the verse or a part that particularly has meaning for you to memory. When your life situation seems to take over, speak that verse aloud. Just this simple action can take your focus off of your circumstance and back on the One who can help in your circumstance.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Second Kings chapter five gives the story of an army commander named Naaman who had leprosy. When he discovers there could be a prophet in Israel who might be able to cure his illness, he goes to locate him.

Elisha is the prophet Naaman seeks. Elisha hears of Naaman and his desire for healing from his leprosy. He sends word through servants for Naaman to wash in the Jordan River seven times.

Naaman leaves in a huff. For one, he can’t believe that the prophet didn’t just come out and heal him on the spot. And, he is disgusted by the thought of dipping into the Jordan when there are so many other better rivers.

Naaman’s servant encourages him to go ahead and do as Elisha has said, and he relents. As soon as Naaman dips down in the Jordan the seventh time, his leprosy is healed.

He decides that this miracle warrants his devotion to Elisha’s God.

Naaman had to follow Elisha’s exact instructions to get the desired result.

Now to open the proverbial can of worms. As writers there are certain rules to follow if we want our manuscripts to see publication.

What are some rules you can think of for writers? Here are a few examples: Be consistent in point of view. Use proper grammar and paragraph form. Show don’t tell. Limit backstory. Can you list some others?

Though we may balk and want to be rebels, there are acceptable writing standards that will give more of a chance of catching an editor’s eye.

Locate a publisher you might be interested in submitting to and bring up their submission guidelines. You may also want to look at some of their specific formatting requirements. What standards do you notice in their guidelines?

What writer’s rules do you need to work on?

Have you ever balked at instructions you’ve received from an editor or critique partner? Don’t be too quick to write off their suggestions.

Have you ever felt you have received instruction from the Lord that you weren’t sure you wanted to follow? Maybe you resisted a calling on your life. Or, possibly you avoided His leading down a difficult path. Often that desired result cannot be achieved without following the exact directions.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Second Kings chapter four tells the story of a prophet’s wife who comes to Elisha for help. Her husband is dead, and the creditors are coming to collect her two sons to pay the debts. Elisha asks what the woman has in her house. She has nothing but a little bit of oil.

She follows Elisha’s instructions when she goes to her neighbors for empty jars. Her two sons and she close the door behind them and begin to fill the jars from their tiny amount of oil. Every jar is filled.

The woman reports to Elisha and he instructs her to sell the oil and pay her debts. What is left of the oil the little family has to live on.

An intriguing story about being in desperate need and yet, being able to use the one thing left. Also, interesting is the fact that Elisha didn’t just give the woman money to pay her debts. God led him to encourage the woman to get involved in the solution.

Sometimes we as Christians just want God to jump in and solve our problem or save us from a situation. But, there are times God calls us to partner with Him to get that solution or salvation. God knows that through our participation lessons can be learned and trust can be gained.

Look at your work in progress. What problem or situation needs resolution with your main character? This can be the overall problem in the story or just a smaller obstacle that has to be solved.

How will this problem be solved ultimately in your story?

Ponder this solution. What contributions does your main character have to make to solve the problem? Are there components of the solution that will mean the character has to rely on God to do His part?

Write the dialogue for a conversation between your main character and another character in which the main character expounds on what he or she had to do to participate in the solution to the problem. Have that character also tell the other what part of the solution could only be done by God.

Reread your dialogue. Would this exchange further drive home the lessons learned by the main character? If so, include it in your manuscript.

Pastor’s sometimes reiterate this point of participation with God in a solution by saying: “God did give us a brain. He expects us to use it.” Do you agree with this?

When you face problems or situations that need resolution, pray that God will reveal to you what part you should play in the solution. What is your oil?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Sage Character

Second Kings the second chapter gives us the story of Elijah being taken up to heaven.

Elisha stays near Elijah, following wherever he goes. Elijah asks what he wants, and Elisha wishes for a double portion of the spirit Elijah possesses. He will be granted his request if he sees Elijah when he is taken.

As promised, Elisha does receive that double portion of the spirit when he witnesses Elijah taken up in a whirlwind in a fiery cloud with horses of fire.

A company of prophets from Jericho were looking on and proclaimed, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.”

In life there are often those people that just exude God’s Spirit. We may aspire to catch some of their enthusiasm so we stay near and try to learn from them.

Sometimes we might create that sage character in our stories to urge the hero or heroine toward right choices or to point out a godly direction or lesson.

Do you have a guide-type character in your story? If not, recall a story which contained that type of character. Describe the role of this character in the story and the wisdom imparted.

Now, mentally remove that character. How would the story be different without the guide character?

In real life, we have those people who speak wisdom into our lives. Make a list of these people and the lessons they have imparted to you. Look over your list. Could any of these people or lessons be inspiration for a story? Make note of those.

Just as you have mentors in your life, God wants us to speak wisdom into other’s lives. Who are you urging on in the faith?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Feelings - Nothing More Than Feelings

In First Kings 19:9+ we see Elijah distressed, maybe a bit angry, and even a little fearful. However, he doesn’t state these emotions when asked by God, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah replies, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Do you sense Elijah’s emotions as he expresses his feelings to God?

After this there was a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But, God wasn’t in those things. He was in a gentle whisper. Isn’t it interesting that God could have spoken through the mighty things but chose to speak in a delicate way?

In this section of scripture, Elijah doesn’t say that he is frustrated or afraid and yet you get the sense of these emotions.

As writers we must show our characters’ emotions but shouldn’t name them. We don’t want to say that our character is sad or angry, we strive to show it. We show the downcast expression or the beet-red face. We use gestures and actions such as drooping shoulders and clenched fists.

Make a list of 10 emotions.

Circle two of the emotions you listed. Create a scene with two characters speaking with one another. Let one of your characters be feeling the first emotion you circled and the other character feeling the second one.

Now write the scene in which we can easily identify the emotions of each character but do not name the emotion. Use only their words, tone, expressions, and gestures.

There is an invaluable resource to help you identify the characteristics of various emotions: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This book is arranged alphabetically by emotions such as anger, doubt, and relief. The writer can simply look up the emotion and find a listing of internal and external words and phrases that show that specific emotion.

Extended activity: How are you feeling today? Are you experiencing frustrations in your writing? Are you feeling joyful because you have reached some writing goals for the week? Follow Elijah’s lead and write out how you are feeling to God. Don’t name the emotions. Show God how you feel today. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


In First Kings three, God allows King Solomon to ask for anything. Solomon asks for wisdom. Even though he didn’t ask for riches and fame, God gave him those things also because of his wise choice.

In this same chapter Solomon demonstrates the wisdom God gave to him through the ruling with the two women and the baby. He wisely tests the love of each mother by suggesting cutting the baby in half so each woman could have part. Only the real mother would give up her own child just to save it.

The end of that chapter says that the people heard of this verdict and knew that the king’s wisdom was from God.

Pick up the last three books you read. What words of wisdom were shown in those stories? How was the wisdom shared? Were there times when wisdom was given directly through a character’s dialogue? Was there some kind of wisdom taught throughout but in an underlying manner? Did you finish reading and think that there was a moral to the story?

As Christian writers, we tend to share God’s wisdom through our story. However, we don’t want to come across as “preachy.” We also desire to present words of wisdom in a natural way, meaning it comes across in the story without being blatantly stated.

Look back at the example books. Which author did the best job of presenting wisdom that flowed naturally and not preaching to the reader?

Study your work in progress. Are you handling the imparted wisdom in a natural way? Are there areas of preachiness? Strive to impart wisdom or morals through your stories in natural ways without being preachy.

As a Christian, do you study God’s Word? Are you constantly and consistently feeding on God’s wisdom? Knowing His wisdom will help in imparting it rightfully.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Second Samuel eleven gives the story of David and Bathsheba. King David decided to stay back while all the other kings went to war. That was his first mistake. Then, he let his eyes wander and land upon a bathing beauty. Only one problem: she was already taken. But, David was the king, and he thought he could fix everything, however, his sin found him out.

Some of the best conflict a writer can write is the struggle of a character to cover lies.

Make a list of lies a character might strive to conceal.

Beside each lie write a way the character might cover up that lie.

For each lie and cover-up, write how the lie might be found out, meaning the cover-up finally fails.

Satan is the master at lies and deception. Have you allowed him to feed you a lie? Do you question or doubt your calling or effectiveness as a writer? Have you considered giving up or quitting? Consider the fact that these may be straight from the deceiver himself.

Instead of thinking of cover-ups, write out ways to combat the lies the devil wants to use on you when it comes to your writing for the Lord. I’ll get you started – resist the devil and pray to God to encourage you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


First Samuel twenty reveals a very special friendship between David and Jonathan. This was a difficult situation since Jonathan’s father was King Saul who wanted nothing more than to see David dead. Jonathan and David swore their friendship with each other in the name of the Lord the Bible says. When Jonathan realizes his father’s hatred and desire to kill David, he helps David to escape to a safer place.

In writing our stories we often employ friend characters for our main characters. Why do we need them? For what they reveal about the main character.

If we want to utilize a deep point of view for our readers, we can’t have our main character wax on and on about his qualities. However, we need our readers to know these qualities to truly understand our character. Here’s where that friend character comes in handy. Through interaction with the friend, the main character’s qualities can be revealed.

Let’s try a little exercise. Choose a character in your work in progress or maybe a character you are considering for a future project. Write a description of that character, thinking about what traits need to be revealed to understand that character.

Take that description, choose a trait to be revealed, and write a scene between that character and a friend character. Allow the interaction between the friend and main character to reveal that trait.

Takes some real thought, right? But it’s worth it if you achieve that deeper point of view for your character that the reader really wants.

What about you? Do you have a writer friend? Let’s face it, not a lot of people “get” writers. It’s a lonely occupation and calling to be a writer sometimes. Family, spouses, and even friends may not understand like another writer can. Search out a writer friend. I’m not talking about a critique partner, though sometimes she might be that. I’m talking about a writer friend you can talk to about disappointments and successes. A friend who will pray with you.

From personal experience, I found my writer friend by praying that God would send me a true friend to share this writing calling and passion with, and He led me to her.