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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Crafty Writing

Before I knew anything about vocal technique I'd listen to any singer and think, "wow, he's really good." Then I started studying voice, attending concerts, performing in shows and concerts, hanging out with other singers. After a few years I got to be a pretty discerning listener. I could literally feel what a singer was doing with his diction, his breathing or if he was struggling with tension or fatigue, if his Italian or French pronunciation needed work, if he was true to the style of the classical or romantic or contemporary piece.

Then I started writing. I attended my first writer's conference.
Oh, I'd been reading all my life. I read a wide variety of classical novels, contemporary fiction, Christian fiction, non-fiction, etc.
My professors in college all said that I was an excellent writer. Non-fiction, that is.
I wrote my first novel and pitched it to a professional critiquer.
She said it would help if I read a lot of books. I composed my face and thanked her for her helpful comments on my writing.

She meant well, but honestly, did she think I wrote in a vacuum --that I'd never opened a book before I attempted my own?
I know what she meant, however. That it's extremely helpful to read others' writing and see how they handle dialogue, structure a scene, hook you with compelling characterizations, etc.

But before you can read with a discerning eye, you have to know what to look for. I wish my critique lady had said: keep taking on-line writing courses, read and study some good books on the craft of writing, hang out with other writers, get into a good critique group, take a good writing course, talk to professional writers.
Then, start reading books with the eyes of a writer, not a reader.
Armed with some writing tools, and reading a new book just about every three or four days, I'm really starting to get it.
Now, each book that I read teaches me another little aspect of the craft.
So now, the biggest advice I'd give a new fiction writer would be:
  1. study a good book on the craft of writing
  2. open a novel and start finding all the techniques the writing book touches on
  3. write a scene using the new techniques you've just read about, and noticed in the novel.
  4. Have it critiqued.

You'll be amazed at how quickly your writing craft will grow. Happy writing!

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