Sometimes, creating a thrilling plot can take a lot of work.
It can be difficult to capture your readers and give them a story that makes them come back for more.
Although I don't typically write fiction much anymore, I grew up formulating plots and crafting novels. I've definitely done my share of plot and character development.
So here are just three things I learned that will help make your plot capture your reader and make the story come alive:
1. Don't go with the predictable ending. A lot of times a novel can feel boring because you have a pretty good idea of where the plot is going.
Take movies for example. Have you ever watched the same movie on TV over and over, just with different titles? Of course, the actors/actresses and the names aren't the same, but the general plot is all the same.
When this happens in writing, the reader gets bored and may not even finish the book. Or if they're like me, they'll skip to the end and discover--just as they thought--that the plot ends how they imagined it would.
Play around with the sad ending. When a book ends with "happily ever after" and all the character's dreams come true, it feels just a little unrealistic to me. Because life isn't always like that. Make the story feel real, even if your character doesn't get what she/he wants in the end.
Throw in a plot twist no one was expecting. Maybe it's the villain who comes out of nowhere or the accident that shocked the reader. Throw your reader off. Surprise them.
2. Create believable characters. I will get bored with a book so much faster if I cannot relate to the character or imagine this character as a real person. There are some books where the characters just feel distant or unrealistic (too perfect, no flaws, gets everything they want, says stuff a real human wouldn't say, etc.), and this bores me. I will be so much more into the book if that character feels like a long lost friend I'm just re-discovering.
Throw in some character flaws. Maybe your writer is too opinionated or gets irritated easily or gets angry when people don't close their bedroom door. Everyone has their own quirks and flaws. Make sure your character has them too.
3. Don't drag it out. A reader can sense when you are throwing in bunny trails or throwing in extra action scenes or dialogue just to make the story last longer. You're going to keep your reader's attention best when you stick to the story, you tell the story, and then you finish the story. You're telling one story in this book, not three or four.
The best movies or books are the ones where you know that every little detail has a purpose. They aren't just telling you about the pink hat your character used to love because they thought it would be interesting. They're telling you about that pink hat because it's going to mean something to that character further on in the story.
This is a good use of foreshadowing, which is key to a great story. Use every detail to your advantage and focus on the one plot that you are telling.
Sometimes if we admit it to ourselves, writing can feel a whole lot more like work instead of feeling like a whole lot of fun.
It's true. Writing does take a lot of hard work. But it shouldn't all be working.
You should be writing because you enjoy it, because you love it. To develop consistency it does require you to write even when you don't feel like it, but even then it should develop a deeper love for writing in your heart.
So what do you do when you forget how it feels to love writing? What do you do when writing feels more like work than anything else?
1) Take a break. Sometimes in order to refocus, you really do need to just step away and take a break. Get your mind on something else and then come back to your writing with a renewed attitude.
2) Spend some time in God's Word evaluating your heart. Really ask yourself why you're writing what you're writing and why it has felt so hard lately. Have you been writing only to gain more readers or to grow your platform? Have you been writing only to get attention? Sometimes writing feels like a weight on our shoulders because we're doing it for the wrong reasons. Write because you love writing and you want to glorify God with your writing. Keep your focus where it should be.
3) Tell someone your love story with writing. I was eight years old when I fell in love with writing. I was twelve when I finished my first real book and felt the excitement pounding in my chest. I was eighteen when my first book was published and I had never been more in love with writing. We all have a moment or time when we fell in love with the craft of writing. Tell someone your story today.
4) Pray. Ask God for wisdom on how you should proceed. Should you take a prolonged break from writing? Should you just push through and keep going? Ask Him for wisdom.
You can do this. Keep writing.
*drum roll please*
After hosting my first writing contest on the blog last year, many of you have asked if I will be doing another one. So I'm pleased to announce the...
2nd annual Worth it All Blog Story Contest!!
Last year's story contest, Once Upon a Time, was so much fun. And I'm so excited for my 2018 story contest, Beauty for Ashes.
Ready for some details?
Beauty for Ashes story prompt:
There comes a time in all of our lives where we feel a little bit broken. Because the truth is that we live in a broken world. Disappointment shakes us, heartbreak crushes us, loss devastates us. We have all lost someone or something that we love.
Where is the hope in a broken world? How can we hope for beauty from the ashes of disappointment or hurt or loss?
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
We are given the promise that while things may not turn out our way, they'll always turn out for our good and His glory.
He really does give beauty for all of our ashes. (Isaiah 61:3)
Contest Begins: February 2, 2018
Deadline for entries: March 2, 2018
Winner announced: March 9, 2018
~Maximum of 2,000 words. Fiction story can be anywhere between that word count, but cannot exceed that amount.
~Type your story in a Microsoft Word document in Times New Roman font and font size, 12.
~Only include story title and story content in your first document.
~In a separate document include story title, your first and last name, and your age. You may also include, if you so desire, a short bio and picture for the blog to be used if you are chosen as a winner.
~Our judge will not know the authors of the stories when she is judging, which is why we need two separate documents. Do not include your name in the document with your story, but do not forget to include the story title!
~The above story prompt must be used in some way in your story. Use this to launch your story ideas and plot. Use your imagination to make your story unique and your characters come to life.
~Please submit all entries to: email@example.com.
~If you have any questions or concerns, contact me using my email address or the contact form here on my blog!
Grand prize: Winner's choice of 1 PDF digital copy of any of my five published books. Winner's story will also be featured right here on my blog and shared on my social media accounts.
Runner up: The runner up will have their story featured on my blog and also shared on my social media accounts.
Announcing Our Special Guest Judge for the Contest!
Our guest judge who will be judging the stories for the Beauty for Ashes Story Contest will be...MacKenzie Morganthal!
I'm so grateful Kenzie agreed to judge for this contest! Kenzie has been a writer for over ten years and has authored two novels in the Mission for Freedom series, Not Abandoned and Out of the Dark. She has lots of wisdom to share regarding writing and I know she will do a great job as a judge for this contest!
Thank you, Kenzie!
Ready to get writing? Comment and let me know if you plan to participate!
On your mark...get set...go!
Feedback and edits are necessary to make you a better writer.
But sometimes they can sting just a little bit, right?
You work so hard on your project or article and you expect it to be wonderful and everyone to love it.
But it's not. And that can sometimes be hard to swallow.
If you're receiving feedback or edits on your writing, here are just a few tips to remember:
1) Separate yourself from your writing. For a long time, my identity was wrapped up solely in my writing, how much people liked it, and all the good feedback I received from it. If someone didn't like my writing or thought there were ways it could be improved, I took it far too personally. Word of advice: Don't take constructive criticism personally. Keeping this in mind will help you go far.
2) Embrace humility. Sometimes it can just be downright hard to admit that we may be wrong about something we wrote. We don't like to admit that our wording may sound weird or come across wrong. And so we'd rather just keep it how it is because that's clearly the right way. Right? Wrong. Cause none of us are perfect. And it takes humility to admit that. So embrace humility, accept constructive advice with grace, and take advice. Taking advice is how you grow.
3) Know that you don't have to take every suggestion given to you. Taking advice grows you as a writer, but sometimes there are just opinions. Because everyone has an opinion and not everyone will agree. So sometimes it is okay to graciously thank your editor for their advice and still not take every bit of it. Word of caution: don't use this to reject every piece of advice you are given. Use this when you're merely being given a suggestion. Then use your discretion and pray about whether you should take it or not.
As a writer, I am always asking friends to give me feedback on my writing and help me with areas I could improve on or things that just sound wrong. Oftentimes, I go to my friends who I trust as writers and know what they're doing.
Of course, there are also countless times when I am the one being asked to give feedback on a friend's writing. Yet because I've been on both ends of this exchange, I've learned a thing or two about giving feedback, but also receiving feedback.
This week I want to talk a little bit about giving feedback, but next week we will pick back up on how to graciously receive feedback.
Here are tips to remember when giving feedback:
1) Highlight the good. Sometimes when editing or giving feedback on someone's article, we can become focused on what needs changed and highlight only what could be improved. Highlighting the good and the parts that you love about the piece you're editing not only encourages the writer, but keeps your focus where it should be--helping the writer grow and know what works and what doesn't.
2) Give constructive criticism in an encouraging way. There is a way to give feedback and there is a way to not give feedback. Whether it's constructive criticism or not. A good rule to go by is to think of how you would like to receive feedback. Would you want someone to be negative about everything you're writing? When giving constructive feedback, always give it how you would like to receive it.
3) Ask clarifying questions. If something about a piece that you are editing confuses you, don't just automatically assume it should be changed and tell the writer to do so. Ask questions to help you understand what the writer is trying to get across in their writing. After you understand, give feedback on how the writer may be able to change the sentences to make them clearer or easier to understand.
4) Celebrate with them. Typically if someone is asking you to edit a piece for them it's because they plan on sharing it somewhere. When they share it or get it accepted, celebrate with them! Just like you would want someone to celebrate with you. :)
It was my goal to get this post up before the end of the day, but considering I only have about 50 minutes left in this day, I better keep it short. :)
Today I wanted to let all you young writers out there know about a program that changed my life.
Once registration officially opens, I will be sharing more, but for now I wanted to share with you how you can go ahead and get started!
The Young Writer is a website launched by Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe (the two best writing coaches in the world, just saying), to guide young writers into young authors and into their next steps.
Visit The Young Writer TODAY to begin growing closer to your dreams as a writer. Take the WriterScore assessment (which is awesome, by the way), to determine exactly where you are right now in your writing journey.
Then be on the lookout in the coming weeks for me to share more about joining the Young Writer's Workshop (the program that changed my entire writing journey) once registration opens. :)
But don't wait, go visit The Young Writer today!
Announcing the winner of the book giveaway!!
If you read my post last week, we were doing a giveaway of Amy Elaine Martinez's new book, Becoming a Victory Girl! And tonight I am announcing the winner...
Joanna, you are our winner! If you commented on my last post and your name is Joanna, please send me an email asap with your mailing address so that I can get Amy's book sent out to you. :)
Thank you so much!
Hi, friends! Today I have a super fun and encouraging interview put together for you with author Amy Elaine Martinez. I hope you will be encouraged by the wisdom and encouragement that she shares.
Now go ahead and sit back and we'll get started...
Bella: Welcome to my blog, Amy! Would you please start off by sharing with us a little bit about yourself and your writing background?
Amy: My name is Amy Elaine Martinez. I'm a southern girl who loves sweet tea and wearing cowboy boots with a sassy top of course. I'm originally from Oklahoma City, OK, but I moved to beautiful, dry Colorado in 1994 to marry my husband. Fun fact: We met and got engaged in 3 weeks, sounds crazy, but we're still going strong 24 years later! I'm a boy-mom to two grown boys, 21 and 19. Recently, I became a mother-in-law...I finally got a girl! I've been in women's ministry, both on staff at a big church and a small church plant...and now on my own as Founder of BeLoved Lumière Devotional. I'm a teacher at heart. Bible study is my jam!
My writing background: I have a degree in Sociology, with an emphasis in social work, from Oklahoma Baptist University, but I probably should have been an English or History major. When my son got married in 2015, I wrote a book for my daughter-in-love as a gift and a countdown to their wedding. Every time someone saw it, they said, “You should get that published...” The next summer, I went to a large Christian writer's conference and started pursuing my dream. I've always loved writing and while leading Bible studies and women's retreats, I found myself writing devotionals for many events. Eventually, with a lot of sweet encouragement, I decided to start a weekly online devotional. So, while I'm new on the writing scene, I've been writing for years.
Bella: What did your publishing journey look like for your brand new book Becoming a Victory Girl: Staking Your Claim in the Kingdom?
Amy: Wow! This was a bittersweet journey. The truth is I knew I wanted to make my devotional series Becoming a Victory Girl into a book for several months, but was honestly too scared to figure out how ‘self-publishing’ worked and make it happen. Then, one day, a dear friend, who is more of a speaker than a writer, achieved my dream of having a book before I did. It was like a wake-up call. I was devastated. That's really hard to admit, but I was. I was so very excited for my friend; she's an amazing woman of God, yet at the same time, I was really disappointed in myself. So, what's a disappointed girl to do? I didn't tell a soul and just did it...all by myself! I decided to make my dream come true! And, in just a few short weeks, Becoming a Victory Girl: Staking Your Claim in The Kingdom (the book) was born! It was a real, tangible, hold-it-in-your-hands book. I learned a whole lot and I certainly wouldn't call it easy, but I'm really pleased with my new book and I love the cover.
Bella: What was the inspiration behind your book? Why was the message important to you?
Amy: Becoming a Victory Girl was inspired by a conversation God started with me on a plane ride home from Oklahoma. He started talking to me about land and territory and destiny on the plane. I looked out the window and saw the land, you know, those plots of land you see when you are landing. I was struck by the image of the land with its territorial and boundary lines. I had just spent several weeks in the ICU with my sister who almost died from a very rare blood disorder. Praise God, she was miraculously healed, but I was weary from the hard-fought battle. I heard the Lord say, “Take the land!” I didn't know what in the world that meant, but over the next several months of spending time with Him, I walked away with a much richer understanding and better picture of what He was trying to speak to me.
We've each been given a place of influence, it's our spiritual territory. Becoming a Victory Girl sums up what it means to stake your claim in the Kingdom of God and walk in your God-given destiny through victorious living. This book is written for the woman who is weary from Life's battles and ready to take back what the enemy has stolen!
Bella: On the topic of writing, what is the most important piece of advice that you would give to any new writer just starting out?
Amy: I think the most important advice I would give is the same that I have received...
You have a unique voice and a God-given story. No one can tell your story and if you don't tell it, nobody else will. Don't compare yourself to others; cling to the beauty of your own story and the fact that you've been chosen to write it and tell it.
Bella: What is the most important piece of writing advice that has ever been given to you?
Amy: On a technical note, staying true to your voice and message is a vital part of any compelling piece. One way to stay focused and en pointe is to have a picture of the person you are writing to on your desk. Whether that's a real person, or just a fictional character you have in your mind, if you can keep writing to her and for her, your message will be consistent and speak right to the heart of the reader. It's also good for a little comedy relief to have a picture of an unknown person, your imaginary friend, on your desk. Every writer needs that on the days when the words just won't come.
A joyful, cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. Proverbs 17:22 (TPT)
Bella: How does being a Christian shape the way you write and the things you write about?
Amy: For me, being a Christian shapes everything I write. It's like the woman who loves much because she's been forgiven much. I can't help myself but to tell how knowing Jesus has changed my life. I was a wreck when I wasn't following Him. He loved me through my ugly choices. One of the main reasons I write is to give hope to women who don't believe they can change. We're all one bad choice from disaster, but with Jesus there is hope. I'm not who I used to be thanks to Jesus and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. If I can change, they can too.
Bella: To end with a fun question, if you could invent any ice cream flavor in the world, what would it be?
Amy: I LOVE this question. We've always told our kids they had NO CHANCE of not liking ice cream...we are an ice cream loving family.
I'm not gonna lie, this isn't totally original, but I'd invent something like I had on a San Diego pier not too long ago.
It would be called, “Sandy, Salty Beach,” with a vanilla base, crushed graham crackers, toasted coconut flakes, mini dark chocolate chips, a frozen peanut butter strip running throughout, and a pinch of sea salt! All my favorites in one!
Bella: Thank you so much for joining us today, Amy, and sharing your beautiful story! <3
Becoming A Victory Girl giveaway!
Amy was gracious enough to give a book away here today! So one of you is going to have the fantastic opportunity to win her new book!
All you have to do to be entered into the drawing for the giveaway is comment below answering the question if you could invent any ice cream flavor, what would it be?
That's it! Fun, right? Start commenting! Giveaway winner announced next Friday!
2018 will be here in just a couple short days. I'm still sitting here wondering where summer went.
Looking ahead into the new year happening next week, I begin to think about my writing life in 2018. What projects will I accomplish? What goals will I set?
If you're a writer or you want to get serious about writing in 2018, I can assure you that it's not going to happen on your own. You want to publish a book in 2018? Well, you're only going to get there if you work for it.
But how do you create a writing plan for your new year? Well, here are some ways that I create mine:
1) Make it a realistic plan. Don't say, "In four months I want to publish a book," if you haven't even started writing a book because that timeline is probably not going to happen. By giving yourself small timelines to work on big projects you'll feel more stressed which could limit you from actually moving forward with your goal. Keep your plan realistic with realistic timelines and ideas.
2) Break it down into steps. Having a plan in mind of what you want to do or where you want to be in a year is a great thing. But having a plan and following a plan are two different things. Break your plan/goal into baby steps. These are things that you can do today or this week or this month to get closer to your goal. Don't overwhelm yourself. Keep these short and simple.
3) Actually do one of the steps today or this week. Yes, it's easy to create a plan and write out the steps you need to take, but sometimes it's harder to actually do the work of those steps. So make sure you actually put it into action and start stepping forward!
4) Remember that great adventures don't always go exactly how you planned. We can set our goals and make our plans and work towards those plans, but that doesn't always mean it's going to go exactly as we think it should. God has a bigger plan and His plan is so much greater than our own. He has a great adventure He's wanting you to walk with Him, and it's not always going to look how you think it should. And that's okay. It's still a great adventure. And He is still God. He knows what He's doing.
What are some writing goals that you have for the new year? Share in the comments below! Happy New Year 2018!
When I was a little girl and I began writing, I never worried about anything except writing.
I never worried about people liking or not liking my words. I never worried about getting published or letting people read what I wrote.
I was just focused on writing down the words and stories I felt God was giving to me. I was focused on keeping Christ at the center of my writing, because after all, He gave me the gift to begin with.
But as I grew older and began to develop my writing platform, I quickly understood how much more difficult it could be to keep Christ at the center of my writing when I was also managing a growing platform.
The honest truth is that just sometimes in between the compliments (and even the criticism), the blog statistics, writing classes, and writing assignments, I can lose my focus.
Lose my focus on what really matters.
Because the truth is that the numbers really don't matter. The number of people reading your blog or loving your writing posts on Facebook, does. Not. Matter.
Jesus is the only thing that matters. If He has given you the gift of writing, then He has specific people He wants you to reach with that gift. Maybe it's only one person. But trust me, that is enough.
Our purpose is to always keep our eyes on Him.
But how do we do that? How do we focus on Him when other things are pulling on us? Well, here are my thoughts.
Keep your time with Jesus first.
Although writing is a calling and a gift, it can't take the place of Jesus in your life. Put your quiet time with Him first. Make sure you're constantly checking your heart and praying for humility in the spotlight.
Get a mentor.
Christian writing mentors can be vital for several reasons, such as helping you develop your craft or proofread your writing, but the most important reason is to help you keep your focus in the right place. If you have a Christian writing mentor she/he can point out areas where you may be focusing more on numbers than on glorifying Jesus.
Don't look at your blog statistics every day.
Sometimes I can get into the habit of checking my blog stats every single day, but in doing this I'm focusing more on my numbers than on the wonderful amazing readers that God is blessing me with. If checking your blog stats distracts you from your focus on Jesus, delete the app from your phone or stop checking on your laptop.
Write for Jesus.
That's all that matters in the end.
Recently I asked on Instagram if any writers had questions or things they wanted to read about in regards to the craft of writing. One of the topics requested was about growing your blog, so in this post I am compiling a few tips I have on creating a thriving blog.
1) Stay consistent. I know I talk about consistency a lot, but trust me, it is so important. Developing a consistent blog schedule makes your followers feel secure and helps them to trust you. After creating a consistent blog schedule, I have seen a drastic jump in my blog followers and views.
2) Write on relevant topics to your target audience. So the first step in this would be figuring out who your target audience is. For example, this section of my blog is dedicated specifically to writers. So I wouldn't post an article on the art of photography because that's not relevant to my audience. If your audience is teenagers, write about topics that are relevant to them.
3) Network with other bloggers. If you're on social media, connect with other writers/bloggers who are doing the same thing you want to do or who are writing about the same things you want to write about. There is power in community. Offer to guest post on each other's blogs, which will spread your writing to other audiences. Cheer each other on when you reach certain blogging goals or spread their blog links to your friends. Support each other.
4) Don't focus on numbers. The truth is that when you focus on your numbers and you check your blog statistics every day, you're going to lose your focus. You're not writing your blog to have 10,000 page views a month. You're writing your blog to glory Christ and because He has called you to write. Plus you love writing. If you're doing it for any other reason, you're going to take the joy out of it. Keep the right focus and write for the right reasons.
About this page:
This page of my blog is dedicated specifically to writers. I've been writing for over half of my life. I live and breathe writing. Because of that, I'm passionate about helping other writers grow, develop, and succeed. This section of my blog will include blog posts dedicated to writing, encouragement, and resources. Feel free to read through some posts and my contact form is always open if you ever have any questions or need encouragement! ♥