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Permission to Be (write) Bad

Permission to Be Bad

By Randy Ingermanson

Writing a first draft is hard. You have to create a group of interesting characters in an interesting storyworld, force them into conflict in scene after scene, and never let the story go flat.

For some writers, writing a first draft is also fun. They write with abandon, pushing out the words, getting the story down on paper. But the problem is that when these writers finish the novel and actually look at what they wrote, they usually find that the first draft is bad. For other writers, writing a first draft is torture. They labor over every single sentence. They sweat the small stuff and the smaller stuff. And then when the story’s finally written, and they actually look at what they wrote, they usually find that the first draft is bad.

There’s a pattern here.

The First Draft is Usually Bad

I suppose a few lucky writers don’t write bad first drafts. But most writers do. And that’s OK. For most writers, a bad first draft is the necessary step to writing a fairly good second draft. Which is the necessary step to writing a pretty good third draft. And eventually, after enough drafts, the story turns into a very good final draft.

What If Your First Draft is Good?

That’s great, if your first draft is good! Super, actually. Amazing. You are not like most writers. If you are lucky enough to write awesome first drafts, be happy. But don’t tell anyone, because most writers don’t, and some of them will get downright snippy if you tell them your first drafts are amazing.

Some of them will sneer at you and say that if you really can’t improve on your first draft, you can’t be much of a writer. Pay no attention to those naysayers. But do get your manuscript edited, because even good manuscripts have issues. But the fact remains that most writers write awful first drafts most of the time. I certainly do.

Is It Bad to Be Bad On the First Draft?

No, it’s not bad. It’s uncomfortable. It’s discouraging. It can be downright debilitating. But it’s normal.

If you just remember it’s normal, that may keep you from beating yourself up. You have permission to write a bad first draft. You have permission to be awful. You have permission to write the worst drivel ever. Because you can fix it in the next draft. Or the one after that. Or the one after that.

But you’ll never fix it unless you first write it. So get it written, as the old slogan goes, and then get it right. And you have permission to take as many drafts as you need to get it right.

Homework—A few questions to think about

  1. Are you working on the first draft of a novel right now?
  2. Is it coming along more slowly than you’d like?
  3. Are you worrying too much about making it perfect?
  4. Would it hurt to leave some work for the second draft?
  5. Would it speed things up to give yourself permission to be bad? (Just for this draft?)

It may be that none of these questions apply to you. If not, then keep doing what you’re doing. But I’m betting these questions apply to a lot of writers.


This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

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Congratulations to FW’s Quarterly Challenge Winners!

Congratulations to these three, who had the highest ratings in their levels this past quarter!

BEGINNTERS/INTERMEDIATE My Marine by Jenny Miller (Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder Challenge) … p?id=57636

ADVANCED Milestones and Millstones by Stephen Kimball (Shop Challenge) … p?id=57387

MASTERS Power from Beyond by Tracy Nunes (Shop Challenge) … p?id=57391

Great job, Jenny, Stephen, and Tracy!

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Writing Challenge Change

Important Change in the Writing Challenge

Effective with April 4th Entries

“I could write a fantasy piece with a lion and a witch and no mention of God, and yet be firmly Christian,” C.S. Lewis

About a year ago, we made a change to the Challenge submission rules after some had expressed concerns about the direction of the entries. The concern was that the entries were gradually drifting further away from FaithWriters’ mission to improve Christian writers and put out good Christian writing. We agreed and made the change that has been in effect for the last year. This made some happy, and some not so happy.

Recently, we have talked to several members who approached us with knowledge of the change. We discovered that it was not necessarily the submission guidelines that they viewed as an issue. Their concern was that the guideline that entries come from a Christian worldview was not always being upheld, especially for winning entries. All agreed, from both sides of this matter, that they want to put forth writing that honors God.

Therefore, after many discussions with members, we have decided to adjust the guidelines to more of a middle position based on these talks, while asking the judges to pay closer attention to this matter. We have asked the judges to keep in mind our desire to promote Christian authors and Christian writing. We believe it is important that especially those entries selected as winners in the Challenge should not only offer great writing, but also be from a Christian worldview. Our goal in doing this is to continue to produce great articles from a Christian worldview while encouraging more members to enter again. FaithWriters is obviously a Christian writers’ website, and we trust that our members as a whole desire to honor God with their writing. In my opinion, members are writing for God and not FaithWriters.

The new submission guidelines are somewhere in the middle of where they were from the beginning of the Challenge and where they have been this last year. These new guidelines will commence in the second quarter of this year, starting April 4, 2019. We appreciate your support.

The guidelines will state:

Entries may be in any style or genre, and they do not need to be overtly Christian in message. However, they must, at minimum, come from a Christian worldview/outlook. The entry may be directed to readers in general, the Christian reader, or may be evangelistic in nature. Entries can also be simply clean, fun and humorous from a Christian point of view, Christian Soup for the Soul style, provided they fit the topic. In the case of fiction, the Christian worldview/outlook may be subtle or allegorical, but it should still offer a fairly clear Christian viewpoint. While it is not required, adding a scripture verse is always encouraged to clarify a message. Entries that are clearly outside of a Christian worldview will remain on the list, but will be not eligible for judging. Entries with offensive language or content, that are overly violent or sensual, and/or are deemed inappropriate for the Challenge and Christian readers, will be removed, even if these elements are used in the portrayal of a non-Christian character. 

Go HERE for some guidance on a Christian worldview.

Thank you to all of those members who helped in this matter.

We are the body of Christ, not perfect in the flesh, but always loving each other and working together.


Michael Edwards
Owner, FaithWriters
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Marketing: “The Reason Why”

Marketing: “The Reason Why”

By Randy Ingermanson

From time to time in your career as an author, you’ll need to write sales copy. At the very least, you’ll need to send an e-mail to your fans when you launch a book. There’s no getting around this. Your publisher will expect it, and your fans (by definition) want to know when you’ve got a new book out.

In your sales copy, you’ll make an offer. Every author I know hates making an offer, but unless you make an offer, you aren’t going to make very many sales. That’s just the way people are wired. Most people won’t take action unless you ask them to. And the way you ask is by making them an offer.

There are two basic parts to an offer:

  1. Here’s what you get.
  2. Here’s how much you’ll need to pay.

For obvious reasons, you want to make part 1 of the offer as good as possible. On Launch Day, it’s fairly common to offer some freebies to go along with your book. And for equally obvious reasons, you want to make part 2 of the offer as low as possible. On Launch Day, it’s fairly common to give a discounted price. (You may not have control of the price, so this may not be an option.) Your goal on Launch Day is to make the offer irresistible, because you want to spike your sales. That’s your best shot at getting on a bestseller list.

“What’s the Catch?”

The problem with irresistible offers is that modern people are skilled at resisting them. We’ve all heard crazy-good offers that turned out bogus—they were too good to be true. So when you hear a great offer, your immediate reaction is “What’s the catch? Why such a good offer?” You need to be ready with an answer. Part of your sales copy should respond to this question. Continue Reading…

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The Writing Challenge – Changes for 2019!

The FaithWriters Writing Challenge is one of the biggest constants, and most well-known parts, of FaithWriters. And, every once in a while, changes need to be made for whatever reason. And this year is one of those times. Two things will be different once the challenge starts up again on Thursday, January 3.  One is logistical, and the other relates to “staffing.”

First, starting with the first topic of 2019, the Challenge will be reduced from four levels to three. The numbers of entries each week, especially in the lower levels, has decreased, to the point where it often isn’t much of a competition. To help remedy that, we are COMBINING LEVELS 1 and 2 (Beginners and Intermediate) into a single Beginners/Intermediate level. Advanced and Masters will not change. To move up to advanced, entrants must place twice (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in that level or in the Editor’s Choice. Three placements in the Editors Choice moves the Challengeer up to Masters, no matter where they are. More details can be found here and here.

The second change is best shared by FaithWriters’ own beloved Deb Porter:

To my beloved Challengeers, old and new, and to all FaithWriters members.

After almost sixteen wonderful years, my husband and I have experienced some fairly dramatic changes to our circumstances. Unexpected, but God-directed every step of the way. It is this change that has finally led me to make the very hard decision to step back from my role at FaithWriters.

Every step of this new direction in my life has been God-led, and I believe with all my heart that His hand will remain on FaithWriters during this transition too. I leave the Writing Challenge in the very capable hands of longtime FaithWriters member, Joanne Sher. Continue Reading…

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Meet 2018 Page Turner Non-Fiction Runner-Up Lori Othouse

See the interview with Page Turner Champion Debbie Roome here, and fiction runner-up Annette Griffin here.

Lori Othouse has been around FaithWriters, off and on, for more than a dozen years, entering the Writing Challenge, posting in regular articles, and more. And now, her non-fiction manuscript, Grace to Remain, has been named the non-fiction runner up in the 2018 Page Turner contest. Read on to learn more about Lori, her book in process, her love for Faithwriters, and more!

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on being the non-fiction runner up in the Page Turner contest! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

LORI OTHOUSE: Thank you so much! I’m so honored and thankful to be a runner up! I actually found out when I was out shopping with my two daughters. We were in a store and I checked my email and saw the announcement. At first, I was kind of afraid to look. Then, when I scrolled down and saw my name, I was so excited! I tried not to smile too big in the middle of the store, but I couldn’t help it. After letting it sink in for a few minutes, I told my oldest daughter when we got out to the car. She loves to write, too, and was so happy. Needless to say, that email made my day!

JOANNE: I’ll bet! Fun to have folks to celebrate with. When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

LORI: I first remember writing short stories and poetry when I was about 12 or 13, none of which I would want to share now, but back then, I thought they were pretty good.  I continued writing here and there throughout high school, but nothing very significant. After I graduated, I was pursuing other things and didn’t really do any writing for about 10 years until I began writing scripts for holiday productions at my church. That’s what really got me back into writing again. I did that for several years and it really stirred up my love for words in a new way. I started writing poetry and short stories again and found a new passion for using words for good and for God in a way that I never did before. Continue Reading…

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Meet 2018 Page Turner Fiction Runner-Up Annette Marie Griffin!

See the interview with Page Turner Champion Debbie Roome here.

Annette Marie Griffin (www.annettemariegriffin.comhas been writing for most of her life, and is beginning to see publishing success. And now, her allegorical novel, The Crevice, has been named the Fiction runner-up in FaithWriters’ 2018 Page Turner Contest. Read on to learn more about Annette’s novel, her writing and reading joys, and more!

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on being the fiction runner up in the Page Turner contest! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

ANNETTE GRIFFIN: Thank you so much! I’m honored and thrilled. I wish I could say that I’ve reached that quiet, confident place in my writing career where I nonchalantly entered this contestthen forgot about my submission until the unexpected notification of my win. But … um no. December 1st was blazoned in red on my desk calendar and embellished with stars, many of which were doodled every time I flipped the page to count the remaining days. Yes—among other lessons, God is busy teaching me the virtue of patience. And my writing pursuits seem to make the perfect training ground.

My fourteen-year-old daughter had an early basketball tournament the morning of December 1st. So while we scrambled about the house in an attempt to get her and ourselves ready, I dealt with the nag of anticipation. I wanted to know the resultsyet dreaded knowing. After we all loaded into the car I opened the FaithWriters page on my phone and saw the list of winners. With a high-pitched squeal I shared the great news with my family, and we all celebrated the win by stopping for a fancy coffee drink.

JOANNE: I wish I had been a fly on the ceiling of that car 😀 When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing? Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else? Continue Reading…

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Meet Page Turner Champion Debbie Roome!

Debbie Roome is no stranger to FaithWriters, or being recognized for her writing, Not only has she placed several times in Best of the Best Writing Challenge contest, but she has also been on the winners list for FaithWriters’ premiere contest, the Page Turner First Chapter Contest. And this year, she is at the top of that list! Read on to learn more about Debbie’s lengthy publishing credits, her winning entry, and more!

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

DEBBIE ROOME: I was lying in bed early Sunday morning and picked up my phone to check my emails. I’d forgotten the results for the Page Turner would be out and Michael’s message was completely unexpected. I was very excited – but then cried because I couldn’t tell my mom who was my biggest fan and supporter. She passed away in August this year.

JOANNE: So sorry – I imagine it was bittersweet. This is your fourth time in the Page Turner winners’ circle: two runners up in 2010 and 2014 plus two first places – one in 2015 and then this year. You are clearly a prolific (and excellent!)  writer. Do you have “a secret?” Where do you get your ideas from? What books do you currently have published, and where can we get them?

DEBBIE: Ideas come to me from daily life and what happens around me and to me. I love to watch people and imagine them as characters in my books.

I have a number of books published. The fiction titles are:
Embracing Change
Broken Shells
Contagious Hope
Fragrant Hope

Non-fiction titles
Magnitude 7.1 and 6.3
Christchurch Earthquake Images
Cyber-Bullying is Never Alright
All About Travel
Fly with Me
Loving Leanne Continue Reading…

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Congratulations to 2018’s Page Turner Winners!

After almost 12 months of excitement and nail-biting suspense, it is time to announce the winners of the twelfth annual of Fresh Air Press Page Turner Contest.

The 2018 Page Turner Writing Contest, for fiction and nonfiction manuscripts, began in early January. The competition was open to all members of the FaithWriters Platinum 500. 

Entries comprised a book proposal, outlining the planned work overall, together with the first chapter of the manuscript. Judging was based on how well each entry worked in a number of key areas, including creativity, freshness, craftsmanship and, most important of all, page turning power and potential for publication.

One Page Turner Champion (the highest rated entry from either fiction or nonfiction categories) receives:

  1. A cash prize of $400 (US);
  2. The offer of traditional publication of their winning manuscript by Breath of Fresh Air Press (which includes editing of the manuscript, if the winner accepts the publishing contract from Breath of Fresh Air Press); and
  3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication.

Two Page Turner runners up (one from each of the two categories—fiction and nonfiction) will receive:

  1. Two x one-hour mentoring sessions with Deb Porter through Finesse Writing and Editing Service/Breath of Fresh Air Press;
  2. Consideration for possible publication by Breath of Fresh Air Press.

It is with great pleasure we announce our 2018 Page Turner winners:

2018 Page Turner Champion—Highest Rated Entry Overall

The First World Problem of Clutter


Debbie Roome

* * *

2018 Page Turner Runner Up—Fiction Winner

The Crevice

Annette Marie Griffin
* * *

2018 Page Turner Runner Up—Nonfiction Winner

Grace to Remain

Lori Othouse

Watch for interviews with the winners and runners up on the blog soon!

Congrats, Debbie, Annette, and Lori!

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Writing Lessons from Luke

Writing Lessons from Luke
by Moses Solanke (theburningbushboy Solanke)

Though a physician (Col. 4:14), Luke is one good Christian writer I’ve had to look upon again and again. Reading only a few lines of his first book, The Gospel According to Luke, provided me enough guidancew for my writing ministry.

I, hereby, itemize the lessons I learned reading through the first four verses of Luke Chapter 1.

Lesson 1: Luke knew that no matter how good his writing would turn out to be, his could not stand aloof of others.

“Several biographies of Christ have already been written…,” he says in Luke 1:1 of the Living Bible edition.

It is good to acknowledge (it actually makes you humble) that someone’s writing, action or idea sparked your inspiration to write. Nobody receives inspirations from the blue.

Your idea is just a follow-up or a modified version of an existing idea. Just as you got inspired from reading others, another will be inspired to write from reading your work.

Hence, we have a chain or network of inspirations. Your writing must have either a forward or backward connection. It cannot stand aloof. Continue Reading…

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