Tag Archives: Christian Writer

Please observe the rules…guidelines…suggestions

Sometime ago, during my years as a funeral director, I was at a church preparing for a funeral. I was passing through their fellowship hall and a sign on the wall caught my attention. It read, “Please observe Parish Hall rules: NO tape on walls!”

I’ll give you one guess how the sign was attached to the wall. Yep…tape.

I have a great respect for the craft of writing, and especially for those who have earned the right to make observations about what works and what doesn’t. I am learning–weekly it seems–that there is so much I don’t know and need to learn. Since I’m an expert at nothing, I am trying to be open-minded and devoted to doing what is necessary to improve my writing skills and my story-telling ability. So I seek advice, search out critiques of my work, and try to get to know those who are recognized as accomplished writers. I work hard and long to see what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong.

And I try to follow the rules…if I can figure them out. But isn’t okay to just admit that there aren’t really that many hard-and-fast rules in traditional-style publishing anymore? Sometimes, what is a rule for one writer just doesn’t apply to another. These custom-fit guidelines are important, to be sure, but sometimes new writers are confused because they are told not to do something that others are doing. They’re told, “it won’t work” or “so-and-so won’t publish it like this.” Then you find out, however, that another publisher will.

What’s a new writer to do?

First, understand that there’s a difference between a rule and a commandment. A rule is a solid guideline that describes the way something is expected to be done at the current time. A commandment is forever (God has never amended or revised His Ten Commandments.) Rules are sometimes proactive and sometimes reactive. They are useful for structure. Rules change when it’s demonstrated that “it can be done another way.”

Humility and respect are the keys, in my opinion. The simple fact is, as an unpublished and unknown writer, I haven’t earned the right to toss the “rules” aside. I don’t have the same unspoken permission the bend/break the rules because I haven’t sold any books yet…I don’t have a track record of making anyone any money. I can pout, whine, complain, and get all snarky, but what good does that do? Or I could just say, “Well, if I can’t do it the way I want to, I’ll just quit writing.” Yeah, that’ll show them. NOT!

So I try to learn what is expected, while also attempting to develop my own unique writer’s voice.

How do YOU handle this wrestling match with your own unique personality & style and the rules that are parts of the writing craft?

NOTE:  I invite you to “Like” my Author Page at www.facebook.com/larrywtimm  If you already have, please know that I appreciate it very much.

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Filed under books, Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing

The 3 word sentence that guides my writing

An unusual survey was taken in which participants were asked this question: What 3 word sentence would you most like to have said to you?

  • The third most common response was: “Supper is ready.”
  • The second most popular answer was:  “I forgive you.”
  • The answer that topped the list was:  “I love you.”

Each answer could serve as a motivation for my writing…yes, even the one about supper being ready. 🙂 You see, as a Christian writer, I want my stories to motivate people to get ready for that one great supper:  the Lamb’s supper. Or, to put it another way, I don’t want anyone to miss out on the great marriage feast where the Bride (the Church) is forever joined to the Groom (the Lord Jesus). Someday the trumpet is going to sound, and it’ll be like God is declaring, “Come on, children, supper is ready.”

And I pray that my writing will show how God can restore the broken, revive the hopeless, and declare the guilty can be pronounced innocent before the eternal Judge. I very much want my books to take my readers on a heart-pounding thrill ride through the darkness that is this world, the whole time making sure that they can see glimpses of light penetrating that darkness. I refuse to ignore or sugar-coat the reality of sin and the destructive consequences it brings, but I want readers to know that God stands ready & willing to forgive them of their sins, to transfer them from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, and to give them new life. Our Lord knows a little something about resurrection, wouldn’t you say? Jesus shed his blood–and rose from the dead–for the forgiveness of sins.

But the most popular answer gives me the reason why Jesus came to earth, hung on the cross, and conquered death and sin. I want my readers to know that God loves them. When someone finishes one of my books, I hope that they will be drawn to a deeper fellowship with the God Who loves them. Once a theologian was asked what he thought was the single greatest theological truth he’d learned in his decades of Bible study. He could have mentioned any of the various doctrinal truths that are so plentiful in Scripture. He could have tried to draw water from the deep wells of theology. Instead he replied, “the single greatest truth that I have learned is that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

I hope my readers can know the same thing because they read one of my books.

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History is His Story

As far as many children in America are concerned, Mother Goose is more relevant than Father God.

That happens when the Bible’s historical accounts are taught as “cute little stories”, complete with comic strip characters. It happens when our children are taught Bible history that has been revised from fact to fable. It happens when are children are exposed to a system that intentionally expels the Bible from the room when a discussion about “real-life, real-time” world history is about to begin. This is done in the name of tolerance, which usually means that everything–except the Bible–is invited to contribute to the discussion.

As a Christian who writes fiction, I do so based on one non-negotiable conviction: the stories I write are ways to communicate knowable, powerful, and Divinely inspired truths from God. I didn’t say my stories were divinely inspired…I said that my stories ARE BASED ON the truth that comes from God and can be found in the Bible. I believe the Bible is the Word of God in the language of mankind. And any meaningful truth that I seek to highlight in my books can be found in the Bible. I don’t create truth, but I am called to proclaim it.

A Christian writer who does not have a firm belief in the Bible as true and accurate is not Christian at all. They are religious probably, but not Christian. My claim to be a Christian is based upon my response to the Christ that has been revealed in the Scriptures. If I can not trust the validity of the Bible, than I have nothing but religious fancies upon which to base my stories. And that’s not worth my time.

God has dealt with mankind in the context of literal times, places, and events. He made sure those real events we needed to know about have been preserved in His book. And, someday, we are all going to meet the Author.

Oh, by the way, that’s a matter of literal history too.

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Hello, I’m a Christian Writer.

I wonder…when I tell someone I’m a Christian Writer, is either of those descriptions hard for them to believe.

While being a writer may not be as obvious as being a Christian, both should be believable. The person I’m talking with shouldn’t have to stand there with a “no, seriously” grin. My relationship with Christ is what makes me a Christian, and my responsibility to Christ is what makes me a writer. I can prove I’m a writer by showing people my writing. I can show I’m a Christian by letting people see my life. But neither being a Christian, nor being a writer can only be something I talk about…I must “walk the walk.” There are lots of people who claim to be Christians and writers, but who aren’t willing to pay the price to live the life required by such claims. And there are plenty of people willing and able to critique both claims.

To be a Christian I must believe in and submissively follow Jesus Christ. To be a writer, I must write. There are no shortcuts or substitutions. And, in a sense, both following Christ and writing for Christ are daily. Am I that devoted to the cause? Are you?

 

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Nearing “THE END”

     Don’t panic! This isn’t a post about the cataclysmic conclusion of history. I haven’t secretly been working to break a previously unbroken biblical code, so that I can reveal exactly when the last grain of salt dribbles through the hour-glass of time.

     That’s not THE END that I’m referring to at all.

     (Cue drumroll): I’m talking about my second novel! In spite of obstacles, I hit the 80,000 word mark a few minutes ago, and am working hard to finish the manuscript tonight or tomorrow. Now keep in mind that the word count is the “pre-editing phase” word count. My freelance editor will no doubt put my manuscript on a diet. And I’ll have rewriting to do.

     It’s been a challenging journey to get the book finished. The last couple of weeks has been a comedy or errors…including two hard drive “glitches” that required my computer to go see the doctor, a big steaming pile of outside items that have pulled me away from writing time, and a trip to Barnes and Noble. Ahhhhhh yes, let me tell you about my trip to B&N. I took a personal day yesterday, intending to spend the entire day at B&N writing, drinking snooty (over-priced) coffee drinks, writing some more, editing, writing…writing…and finishing my manuscript, so that I could enjoy a great supper at Freddy’s with my best friend, then glide into my ACFW South-Central Kansas Chapter meeting with a smug glow, and announce, “Look at me, Look at me! I’m holding the flashdrive that has my freshly completed novel.”

     But pride cometh before the fall.

     Pop Quiz: Who do you think showed up at B&N at 10:00 am, opened his computer bag, and discovered that–for the first time in his life–he’d forgotten to pack the laptop’s power cord? Any guesses….hmmmmm?

     So I ran to a nearby electronics store to buy a new ac cord for said laptop. I stared at them…the price didn’t change…so I left without one. Long story short: by the time I drove 30 miles to purchase a used power cord, then drove back, I’d wasted a couple of hours.

     Then the computer worked, but my brain didn’t. All told, I put in about three hours of writing time. Hence, I never got to type “THE END.”

     One piece of advice has glowed during this challenging time:  successful writers are those who refuse to quit.

     If you’re a Christian writer, you’ve been called by God (see earlier posts) to write for Him. And the devil doesn’t want you to do it. Are you going to quit? God wants you to write…the devil doesn’t…YOU get the deciding vote.

     What are you going to decide?

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Dear God, help me remember WHO I am, for I’m YOUR CHILD

     Writing is what I do, but it is not who I am. I’M A CHILD OF THE KING! Yes, I’m a husband, father, preacher/teacher, and a writer–and these relationships are very important to me. However, there is no relationship that compares to the gracious privilege of being called a child of the Heavenly Father.

     And our Heavenly Father will never abandon or abuse, reject or refuse us! EVER!

     Fellow writer, hang on to this truth with relentless tenacity. We’re not writing about someone we don’t know, or about a deity we’re blindly pursuing. Rather, we’re stewards of story because we’ve been adopted–through faith in Jesus Christ–into Almighty God’s family. Published or unpublished, that’s not going to change. Best-seller or bargain bin, that’s not going to change. IN CHRIST WE ARE CHILDREN OF THE KING, because of our faith in His Living Word, not because of our ability to produce our written ones.

  • John 1:12:  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
  •  Romans 8:14-16:  “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”
  • I John 3:1:  “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are…”

     And how did Jesus teach us to begin the “Lord’s Prayer”?

     I’m writing christian fiction because of my relationship to God. I want to use the truths from my Heavenly Father’s Word to shine light into darkness. I’m not crafting stories to earn God’s love. If you’re a Christian writer, God already loves you as His child. In fact, it’s impossible for Him to love you more than He does now.

     So as we sit down to write, let’s think of our Heavenly Father–He’s the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful One Who sent His Son to save our souls. Strive to tell people about Him. Yearn for others to Know Him.

     So, fellow writer, ask God to help you remember that YOU ARE A CHILD OF THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE! That ought to give us something to write about, huh?

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