Proactive and Reactive Scenes

Proactive and Reactive Scenes

By Randy Ingermanson

It sounds horribly old-fashioned to say this, but once a month, I go to a critique group with real, live writers.

These days, it seems that most writers communicate electronically. That’s all fine, but it’s just more fun to get together in person, so we do it.

One of the most common questions I ask after somebody reads a scene is, “What happened in this scene?”

Something needs to happen in every scene. Otherwise, there’s no reason for it to exist. Something needs to change. The lead character for the scene needs to be better off or worse off at the end of the scene than at the beginning.

There are two common patterns that scenes fall into—Proactive Scenes and Reactive Scenes. Of these, Proactive Scenes are more common, but all novelists need to know how to write both.

Proactive Scenes
Proactive scenes are goal-oriented. The lead character for the scene is called the point-of-view character (POV character) and she wants to achieve some goal by the end of the scene.

But fiction feeds on conflict, so there is some reason your POV character can’t get what she wants. Maybe another character gets in the way. Maybe it’s something inanimate. Maybe this character is her own worst enemy, and she’s keeping herself from reaching her goal.

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Casting God

Casting God
By Sydney Avey

In A Praying Life, author Paul E. Miller suggests that we consider carefully who we think we are talking to when we pray. I often cast God in benign roles that focus on what He can do for me. Example: God is my boss, and if I serve him well he will give me good things.

When praying about my writing life, I consider the seeds I am sowing on the path that meanders before me. Laying the seed before God, I entertained thoughts that if I just keep trying different things -  a new market, a different writer’s group, a daily blog, a writer’s conference – one day God might say “Cha ching! You have chosen Door Number Two! You win!” Then I realize that I have just cast God as a game show host.

God is not a boss to please or a game to win. Daily I must remind myself of who I’m talking to — the great I Am — holy, righteous, lover, judge, creator, sustainer. That casts a different light on my role in this relationship.

Holy God, I offer up these characters I have created and ask that You, the creator and sustainer of life, find worlds for them to live in. May they give you pleasure. May they amuse and inspire readers. Amen.

**Sydney Avey writes and blogs in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.

Article Source: WRITER

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“Was” Killin’

“Was” Killin’

By Linda Yezak

Sometimes you can’t get around using “was,” but more often than not, it’s a sign of the author’s laziness. The verb is sluggish, blah, boring. It lacks pizzazz.

It’s time to whack it out of use as much as possible and replace it with active verbs and, if necessary, rewrite entire sentences to make the sentences more active.

We’ve talked on this site before about using past tense vs what I’ll call “continuous” past for this post. Continuous past means something was in progress, “he was stealing my notes,” instead of saying it had already happened: “he stole my notes.” When you’re using “was” as part of the verb tense, you can’t help it.

But usually, you can.

The house was on a lake-side lot about fifty miles away, but I was in my super-sonic, souped-up Jaguar and could make the distance in less than five minutes. Sure enough, in four point two minutes I was exiting the car and walking up the drive. The door was unlocked when I got to it, and I went in. The house was empty, so I made myself at home in the kitchen.

I was pouring the sauce over the spaghetti when she walked in. She was stunning in her navy power suit, and her hair was swept up beautifully. It was enough to make me stop what I was doing to watch her glide into the room.

Two paragraphs, ten uses of “was.” Ouch.

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Free Reads for Reviews Member Award Program Ending Soon!

Need a good book to read? Want to help out some up and coming authors? Want a chance to win a cash prize? FaithWriters members have a great opportunity to do all of these things – but time is running out (for the cash prize, anyway).

Do you know what one of the most valuable things is to published authors these days? What can boost sales and get more recognition in the world of books?

Book reviews – that’s what. With the plethora of different book options out there, reviews on sites like Amazon can draw people to books, and good reviews can encourage folks to purchase.  And FaithWriters has a program to help authors get those reviews – AND benefit the readers as well.

FaithWriters’ Free Reads for Reviews is a way for authors to accumulate reviews (and readers to get free books) to help with sales and marketing. Just go to the FaithWriters bookstore and check out the Free Reads for Reviews program. There are over six dozen books by FaithWriters members available in this program, from fiction to self-help to Bible studies and more. Simply look at the list, contact the author through private message, and he or she will send you a copy. Read the book, leave an HONEST review (doesn’t have to be positive) at their Amazon page or elsewhere if applicable.

But that isn’t the only benefit to readers! FaithWriters has a special incentive going on now through the end of June. The person who reviews the most books between the beginning of this year and midnight June 30, 2014 will receive $150 – and everyone who reviews any book during that time will get their name put in a hat for each book reviewed, with one person winning $100. See this link for details and how to make your review “count.”

And if you’re an author and want your book involved, check out this link.

What book will you review first? It’s not too late to start!

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Raise Your Bar

Raise Your Bar

by Jennifer Slattery

It seems everyone wants to be a writer. And who wouldn’t? You work from home, plan your own schedule, and live in a fantasy world much of the time. But of the tens of thousands (perhaps even millions?) around the globe longing to pen that first novel, only a small percentage will actually follow through. Even fewer will see their work in print. Peruse agent and editor blogs long enough and you’ll soon learn why this is true.

Most editors publish one out of every one hundred submissions.Some even less than that. Which means, if you want to succeed, you need to rise to the 99th percentile. A daunting task, I know. Like anything else, you won’t get there by accident, or by twiddling your thumbs. If you want to be part of that top one percent, you’ll need to work hard, when others rest. Persevere when others give up. Improve when others remain stagnant. Unless you view writing as a hobby, you’ll need to approach it with intentionality and determination. For me, that equates to setting daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals.

At the risk of using a cliché…. They say “Shoot for the stars and you may hit the moon. Shoot for the ground and you’ll hit it every time.” Here’s how this plays out in writing. Set a daily word count goal, although you may not always reach it, chances are, you’ll pound your keyboard for a while. Let you writing “fit in as it may”, most likely, other things will often crowd it out. Plus, I believe, this trains negative habits and makes that first deadline much harder to meet.

I write fiction novels, freelance articles, review for Novel Reviews, do freelance editing and marking for Tiffany Colter, the Writing Career Coach, write for Christ to the World Ministries, do marketing and function as host for Clash of the Titles, and send material monthly to Internet Café Devotions, Samie Sisters, Devo Kids, and the Christian Pulse. This doesn’t leave a lot of flex time.

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When It Becomes Personal: A Memorial Day Devotional

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV

Some holidays, if I’m going to be completely honest, didn’t impact me very much when I was a child. For much time growing up, they were simply excuses not to go to school (or have an assembly). I never really thought about Labor Day, Memorial Day, President’s Day, or Veteran’s Day for their actual meanings. Or even if I did, it was just a lesson in school or a book.

And as I grew into adulthood, some of these holidays gained new meaning, while others didn’t. But no holidays changed as much for me in the past few years as Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.

Yesterday, as you likely know, was Memorial Day. I’ve appreciated those in the military for as long as I’ve known what they were, but that appreciation became much more real – more personal – when someone in my family made the ultimate sacrifice for my, and our, freedom.

Well, not in my BLOOD family. And it wasn’t even anyone I knew very well (in fact, IF I met him, it was perhaps once or twice in passing). But this young man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country almost five years ago was very important to some people who were very important to me. He was a member of my church family.

nick roushArmy Corporal Nick Roush was killed on Sunday, August 16, 2009, at age 22, in Afghanistan when an IED exploded. He was a local kid, an attendee of my local church (at the time) since he was a boy.

Like I said before, I never knew him. But I knew – and loved – people who did. His sweet parents. His dear friends. Those who grew up with him, and those who grew up with his parents. And suddenly, the war, and its tragedies, were personal.

I lined the road when the motorcade brought his body from the local airport to our church. I read every article I could find. I blogged about it: not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times on my personal blog. It clearly changed my perceptions – my perspective.

Christ is like that too. I’d heard of Him – barely in passing as a child, more as I grew older. But it wasn’t until it BECAME PERSONAL that it changed my life. Until he was more than a person – until He became my Savior. My friend. Until I really and truly understood His sacrifice – and that He did it for me.

Sometimes it takes death to make something personal – meaningful – to you.

I will never be the same.


Words on Display

Words on Display
By Delia Latham

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. ~1 Corinthians 9:25

“Temperate,” according to Merriam-Webster: 1 : marked by moderation: as keeping or held within limits; not extreme or excessive.

Sometimes less is more.

Unlike many familiar phrases, this one is true almost every time. (I have to admit, I don’t think that way when I’m trying to stretch too few dollars to make ends meet. In that case, more would definitely be more.)

But we’re not talking about money, or beauty, or weight loss. We’re talking about writing, and with that topic in mind, less is more.

Write tight. Be succinct. Make it short and snappy.

I could think of a dozen more ways to say the same thing, but it would defeat my purpose.

Want to know why editors slap our wrists for using too many adjectives and adverbs? Because they clutter, without serving any real purpose. They are crutches, and depending on them keeps us from making the effort to write better, tighter, cleaner prose.

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New Blogging Contest – What’s In Your Pocket?

FaithWriters has s new blogging contest going on right now,  and winners can get paid writing assignments or a free one-year Gold membership. The current contest is for the Pocket Testament League, a 120+-year-old organization whose their main focus is leading people to a saving knowledge of Christ and equipping others to do the same.

To enter the contest, you need to write a 750-word-or-less promotional review of their site/ministry whose goal is to encourage readers to click on the links to PTL’s website. Your article must include at least four links to the PTL website tied into certain key words (contextual links). And it must be posted in at least three places – on the “What’s In Your Pocket” post in the FaithWriters forums, in FaithWriters’ regular articles section, and one other place. See this page for the general guidelines, tips, and instruction on entering these contests, and this page for more details on this particular contest.

The deadline for this contest is 6pm ET on June 30, 2014, with winners announced as soon as they are determined.

So, are you wondering about prizes? Well, here they are:

1st Place (Upgraded member): Two paid writing assignments from Pocket Testament League ($150 total) and publication on 100 Christian blogs.

2nd Place (Upgraded member) One paid writing assignment from Pocket Testament League (worth $75)

Best Silver member entry: free one-year FaithWriters Gold membership

So, check out their website for ideas (or see the winners of the last PTL blogging contest a couple years ago) and get writing!

Are You Entering? What’s in Your Pocket?


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Filling the Well

Filling the Well

by Dorothy Love

Are you weary?  Out of ideas that excite you? Tired of wrestling that manuscript into shape while trying to follow the “rules” of writing a novel?  Worried that your new book is too tired, too trite, too…something? Me, too. Next week, I have a couple of projects due to my publishers. I’m digging deep to find the creative, emotional, and physical stamina  I need to meet my deadlines.  I know I’m not alone. All working writers regularly reach a point at which it seems impossible to finish the novel, write the blog post, make the book signing.

We need to refill the well. One thing that helps me is to read the words of others whose work is way better than mine. Some are funny,  some are profound, all of them encourage me and renew my love for this maddening, impossible and completely exhilarating work we call writing. Here are a few randomly selected quotes that helped me this week. I hope they will renew your spirits, too, or at least make you laugh,  regardless of where you are on your writing  journey.

“Whatever our theme in writing, it is old and tired. Whatever our place, it has been visited by the stranger; it will never be new again. It is only the vision that can be new, but that is enough.”   Eudora Welty

“If there  is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  Toni Morrison

“When the plot flags, bring in a man with a gun.”  Raymond Chandler

“The writer is the one who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do.”  Donald Barthelme

“Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness–when a glorious idea comes to mind and, secondly when a last page has been written and you haven’t had time to know how much better it ought to be.”   Joseph Priestly

And, finally, this from EB White, author of Charlotte’s Web:  “I have no warm up exercises, other than to take an occasional drink.”

What’s your favorite quote?


Dorothy LoveBefore moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. Beyond All Measure, her first Hickory Ridge title from Thomas Nelson debuted in June, 2011 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Romantic Times.  The second book, Beauty For Ashes, released  in early 2012. The third and final book, Every Perfect Gift, released at the end of 2012. CAROLINA GOLD, Dorothy’s next novel, a stand alone historical, was published in November of 2013. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: or her author page on Facebook:

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Summer is Coming

In MY hemisphere, anyway. And for a lot of people (though by no means ALL people), it means a different schedule and/or routine. The kids are home more. Vacations are more likely. Things are…well…different. And the amount of time you have for your pursuits – including writing – often changes.

For some, summer means more time to write, and for others, less. Regardless, it isn’t wise to let an entire season go by without putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to exercise the writing muscles and gift God has given you.

And in case you didn’t know, FaithWriters does NOT go away for the summer – there are still plenty of opportunities to hone your craft, write to a topic, and all the other things you love about the site. So, check out the list of opportunities below and pick one or two to work on this summer.

FaithWriters’ second testimony book: if your testimony wasn’t published in FW’s first testimony book, upgraded members can submit one to this contest, whose deadline is August 15, 2014. Check out the link (and scroll down) for more details. Fifty testimonies will be chosen and included in this book, with authors participating in royalties.

2014 Non-Fiction Page Turner Contest: Platinum members can enter FaithWriters’ first chapter contest, with the possibility of winning $800 in cash and more in prizes. Submit the first chapter of your unpublished non-fiction manuscript, plus an overview of the book, and you could be the winner! Deadline for this contest is October 31, 2014. Check out this link for more details.

Xulon Christian Fiction Contest: Platinum members can submit the beginning and synopsis of an unpublished fiction manuscript to this contest, with the winner receiving a Xulon Press Bestseller Package for their manuscript, and free premium publicity and marketing for their finished novel on the FaithWriters’ site. Read more information here - the deadline for this contest is November 30, 2014.

And don’t forget FaithWriters’ continuing opportunities in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge, Free Reprints, and General Submissions.

What are YOUR writing plans for the summer?

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