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Posts Tagged ‘Writing Nonfiction’

Should You Write a Bible Study?
By Gloria Penwell

Many authors and speakers eventually come to the decision that they could, or should, write a Bible study. For various reasons they believe the market needs what they have to offer. Sometimes the thought is I can write a Bible study better than anything out there, or I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for. My particular favorite reason that I hear is I’m much more spiritually mature than most of those other authors.

But what should be the motivation for writing a Bible study?

I believe that writing Bible studies must come out of a pressing sense that God wants an author to share his/her perspective on a particular subject or passage of scripture. Many times in our personal studies, we revert to one passage or concept that God keeps impressing on our hearts and minds. We study it. We do research it. We can’t let it go. That’s a good sign that maybe God wants us to write a certain Bible study.
Before we make that decision, though, it’s vital we spend time before the Father, asking him what he wants us to do. This very special subgenre needs to be verified by much prayer and the reading of God’s Word.

Who really needs another Bible study?

Another thing I suggest authors do is to ask other people if a certain topic or theme would be helpful to them. It might even be a good idea to teach it and see how it’s received. Sometimes the promptings we get from God are for our growth and don’t particularly apply to others. Will your Bible study help others in their Christian walk?
Writing Bible studies should be a deeply spiritual undertaking. Don’t ever approach it lightly.

Gloria Penwell
Acquisitions Editor
Bold Vision Books
http://www.Boldvisionbooks.com

Gloria will be presenting the following workshops this July at MCWC:

BIBLE STUDIES THAT SELL

GET THE MOST OUT OF THE CONFERENCE

PRAYER IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER

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The Importance of Keeping Detailed Notes

Writing both fiction and nonfiction has taught me how important it is to keep detailed notes while writing the book manuscripts. Now after having both genres published, I’m able to say, “I’m glad I did,” not “I wish I had.”

NONFICTION:

When I wrote my Bible study guide, DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD (2003, Regular Baptist Press), I had pages of notes for each of ten lessons, including websites for references, information about other authors’ names, addresses, and contact information whom I cited, Bible verses used, and so on. I listed in a separate file all the details I needed to go back and research or get additional information on any of the above entities of the written work.

Only after I submitted the manuscript to my publisher did I find out how valuable all that information was. The editor needed additional references for the bibliography at the end of the book AND she needed permission from all poets whose work I cited in the book. Now that was a task to complete! One poet had passed away, but I received a nicely written permission slip from the poet’s husband. Some poems had large publishing rights’ fees attached to them (such as poems written by Helen Steiner Rice), which forced me to delete those poems and insert others that had no fees. But with all this additional work, I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been had I not recorded where I found all the poems and quotes that I had used.

FICTION:

When writing my two fiction series, THE KEYSTONE STABLES and THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY, I made detailed notes of all the characters, primary, secondary, and even the “insignificant” ones. I recorded lesser characters, whether they had a name or not, such as the man selling Scottie puppies at the farmers’ market who had his vending spot next to my main character’s table in Louellen Finds True Love. For the more important characters, I described their physical appearance and often their demeanor, personality, or likes and dislikes. I also listed the names or details of all places, including towns, counties, farms, homes of main characters, route numbers of roads, and descriptions of many of the places or scenes.

Why is this important?

If you’re writing a 150-to-400-page book, you need to know if you used the name “Joe” for any character, even if he’s just the guy fixing a flat tire at a garage. If you’re writing a series, which can take months or years, how are you going to remember whether Joe’s name was ever used for any character? Go back and read all your work? Uh huh.

In my LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY SERIES, a three-volume set being re-released in a few weeks, I kept detailed notes, and I’m ever glad I did. After writing the three books, I also wrote an additional 24 short stories (5000-8000 words each) based on the characters in the three novels. [They’ll eventually be published as Plain and Proper in Snyder County Volume 1 (12 stories) and Plain and Proper in Snyder County Volume 2 (12 stories)]. I was able to go back to my pages of notes and see who’s related to whom, which farmers’ market is in Ohio, who the parents and siblings are of the main character in each story, which character in the book series likes sewing, which one loves horses, which one is a young widow, and so on. The initial work it took to open new files and start listing persons, places, and things has been well worth the effort. Believe me!

So, my advice to you is, if you’re writing a book or a series, keep detailed notes on everything you write. Yes, it’s extra work, but in the long run, you’ll be saying, “I’m glad I did,” not “I wish I had.”

 

Keystone Stables Book 3

 

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Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction? How can you be creative writing “the truth”?

This blog post is loaded with some valuable nonfiction tips for you who like writing in that genre. Thanks to author Patti Souder, who has shared this information at writers’ conferences, we have some tips that will spruce up your writing and make it publishing ready.

Patti has been writing articles, drama sketches, and nonfiction books for over 20 years. She also has taught creativePatti.+Anniv.Power.Point.2014 writing on the college level, so her suggestions are well worth noting.

In a proverbial nutshell, I’ve listed the highlights of one of her workshops entitled “Creative Nonfiction: An Oxymoron?” So if you’re a nonfiction writer, take note of the excellent advice this experienced published author suggests.

Literary Elements Used to Create CREATIVE NONFICTION

Borrow from fiction techniques:

  1. Develop characters.
  2. Use dialogue.
  3. Include details.
  4. Adopt an effective point-of-view: Use inner thoughts.
  5. Limit your tag lines.

Incorporate poetic elements to increase your artistry:

  1. Use imagery to create sensory impressions.
  2. Borrow from nature: Example – a moth beating its wings against a window can picture the frustration of helpless people when oppressed by authority.
  3. Use metaphors
  4. Vary your rhythm, style, and length of sentences.

Important Elements to Remember

Creative nonfiction is NONFICTION:

  1. Be factual.
  2. Anchor your manuscript in real experience.
  3. Do your research.

Creative nonfiction requires PERSONAL PRESENCE:

  1. Go beyond mere facts.
  2. Add your voice.
  3. Share personal perspectives and reflections.
  4. But remember that your writing MUST be grounded in actual experiences.

Don’t avoid the challenges you might face from folks who question your writing:

  1. If you’ve written the truth, let the challenges come.
  2. Be ready to back your manuscript with research findings, testimonies, and recorded facts.

So, there you have some excellent tips on writing “creative nonfiction.” Whether drama, personal interest articles, drama sketches, or biographies, you can make your writing come alive with a fiction spark if you incorporate some fiction techniques in your work! Just remember, your nonfiction can get “weighed down” if you use boring techniques. Spruce it up with some hints from Patti, an experienced published author!

Marsha

Director of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference

B.J. Taylor .PhotoP.S. If you’re interested in memoirs or writing for Guideposts, don’t miss next July’s Montrose Christian Writers Conference. B.J. Taylor, representing Inspiring Voices and Guideposts, will present a Major Morning series on those topics.

 

 

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