Monday, February 24, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--February 24, 2014--Developing characters

A Step in the Write Direction

February 24, 2013

Update: Not much to report this week. Finished the 306 page editing job; now have an assignment of 7 devotionals to complete before March 1 (which sure is coming faster than I expected, with the short month of February)…I look at our hometown paper online every day and suffer with those still experiencing snow and below-zero temperatures. But I guess you appreciate the spring more after a winter like this….Did you enjoy the Olympics? I especially liked the skiing and couples figure skating, but missed the closing ceremony. When I think how many years those athletics have worked to get to that place, it shows me that we, as writers spreading the Good News, must also do our best to reach those looking for an answer. Our pastor spoke on witnessing yesterday. One of the verses he used was “Come and see,” which reminded me of a song my nephew wrote: “Come and See…Go and Tell.” Good thought!

Thought for the Day: "God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us." Martin Luther

Laugh for the Day: One new computer user chose the password MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouie DeweyDonald GoofySacramento.” When asked why she had such a long password, she replied, “They said it has to be at least 8 characters and one capital.”

Song for the Day:
Pressing more closely to Him who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day!
            —Eliza E. Hewitt, “Stepping in the Light”

100-Plus Motivational Moments for Writers and Speakers
I bought out the inventory of this devotional book. Regular price $9.95 plus s&h; Sale price $5.00 plus $3 s&h.

Writer’s Tips:

What Do Your Characters Look Like?

*          Someone once said, “Describe your characters so vividly that you would recognize them if you met them walking down the street. As a teen, reading the Grace Livingston Hill books, I could visualize one of the characters so clearly, she reminded me a lady at our church.

*          Christian novelist Carole Gift Page shared at a workshop that she cuts out pictures of little girls and boys, teenagers, parents, grandparents; houses—inside and out; yards; automobiles; buildings in town—library, mall, etc. Then she selects those she will use in her current project and hangs those pictures on a clothesline in her office, referring to them often.  This way her main character who is blonde and five foot two doesn’t suddenly become a five foot six redhead.


*     Another author, while struggling with characterization, was looking for a job and filling out an application blank. “They sure want to know a lot about me,” she thought. Suddenly an idea came to her, and she sat down and made out an application for each of her characters: Name (different in different countries and different eras), Address (setting of story), Objective (one-sentence theme of book), Education, Job History, References (other characters in book). And, in the past, applications also asked for height and weight.


 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich
"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--February 17, 2014--Show, Don't Tell

A Step in the Write Direction
February 17, 2013

Update: A happy birthday to our oldest child, our son, today. Hard to believe he’s already 52. Where do the years go?...Had a good time Friday teaching a 3-hour editing workshop to a nearby writing group in Ft. Hills, Arizona, then chatting with them at lunch afterwards….Something I’ve decided: I never will get caught up on my work. Right now I have a 336-page novel to edit, a 144-page book to proofread (by tomorrow) and 7 devotionals to write by March 1. But I’m thankful for the work (and also thankful for 3 birthday parties this last month to force me to clean the house!)…Write me at for a list of tax deductions for writers, and also if you’d like a copy of 100-Plus Motivational Moments for Writers and Speakers, a book of devotionals written by writers, with room for you to write your thoughts at the end of each. Regular price $9.95, but I bought out the inventory from the publisher and am selling them for $5, plus $3 s&h. An inspirational book to have in your library or to give as a gift.

Thought for the Day: “I do not know the nature of your regret, and  you do not know mine, but I do know that there is no burden too heavy for God, no ego too grand for God, no trough of regret too low for God. I do know that there is absolutely nothing about you or about me that is beyond God’s capacity to redeem” (Joanna M. Adams, “Clean Up Your Act,” Journal for Preachers, Advent, 2013, 32).

Laugh for the Day: A teen-aged boy drove his rattletrap car up to a toll booth on a highway. The toll collector said, “75 cents.” “Sold!” the boy said. (Jokes—Hours and Hours of Great Laughs, Compiled by Michael J. Pellowski, New York: Playmore, Inc. Publishers, p. 158).

Song for the Day:
My Jesus, as Thou wilt. All shall be well for me;
Each changing, future scene I gladly trust leave with Thee.
Straight to my home above, I travel calmly on,
And sing in life or death, “My Lord, Thy will be done.”
            (“My Jesus, as Thou Wilt, Benjamin Schmolck)

Writer’s Tips (Show, Don’t Tell):
*          Which is better?  "The giant looked around the room. When he saw the boy, he got angry
and bellowed a threat    to eat him." Or, "Fee, fi, fo, fum.  I smell the blood of an
Englishman.  Be he alive, or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread." 
(“The Fiction-Writer's Polish Kit, Judith Ross Enderle & Stephanie Gordon Tessler.
 Writer's Digest, May 1986, pp. 29-30.)

*          Don't just say a person is fat.  Show it! Show her out of breath while climbing steps, her face red, sweating, a button popped off her dress, or a rip under the sleeve.

*          “The first time she met her mother-in-law, Jemma couldn’t believe her hair and the outfit she wore. But after she grew to know her, these things didn’t matter” (dg), or:
“When she first met her mother-in-law, Jemma had blinked in surprise at the older woman’s reddish, flyaway hair and her eccentric costume—zebra-striped Spandex pants with a black gauze peasant blouse, right out of the seventies. But Jemma soon learned that Claire’s heart was as lavish and generous as her flamboyant clothing.” (“Get to Know Your Characters,” by Gail Gaymer Martin, The Christian Communicator, September 2001, p. 17.)

*          My grandmother was a spunky woman. (Show us.)

*          "He was a bushy-haired, massive man. What color hair? How massive? What did he weigh? Did he tower over someone? How tall? (To my husband who is only four foot ten, “tall” could be five feet six inches.  Paint a picture your reader can see in his/her mind.

*          Don't just say a character is beautiful. That’s your opinion!  Describe her so thoroughly that the reader will say, “She must be beautiful.”

*          Same with, “It was a beautiful day.” This means different things to different people. What does a beautiful day mean to you? To my friend Kathy, a boat ride to the Isle of Skye with the wind and rain in our faces was “beautiful.”

            Or, “The meal was scrumptious.” It’s okay if this is in dialogue; otherwise, it’s just your opinion.

*          “When Ashley got home from school she told her mother that her friends were shunning her.” How?  Use some dialogue with her mother. Give an example. Does she pass them in the hallway and say “hi” and they don’t answer? Do they whisper behind her back? Do they not invite her to any of their activities? Do they not save a place for her in the cafeteria?


            (More next week.)
 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"
"The Freedom of Letting Go"
"Healing in God's Time"

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--February 10, 2014--Why Do You Write

A Step in the Write Direction
February 10, 2014
Update: A busy week as I’ve had several books to edit and proofread, income taxes to prepare (I still do about 15-20 a year after selling my business), getting ready to teach an editing workshop on Friday, and finishing an assignment of 7 devotionals….Great thought from our pastor’s sermon yesterday. He does triathlons, and was talking about swimming in Tempe town lake. He says that sometimes when heading toward the third buoy, his goggles get fogged up, but instead of watching those beside him, he keeps his eyes on the buoy. When he finally reaches it (the end of the race), those on shore celebrate with him. It’s like our life race: Don’t look at those around you, keep your eye on the finish line, and when you reach it, there will be those who will celebrate with you. (Thanks, Ira Brown.)
Thought for the Day: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else” (Judy Garland).
Laugh for the Day—Definitions
    Adult: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.
    Beauty Parlor: A place where women curl up and dye.
    Egotist: Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
    Handkerchief: Cold storage.
    Secret: Something you tell to one person at a time.
    Toothache: A pain that drives you to extraction.
    Tomorrow: One of the greatest labor-saving devices of today.
    Wrinkles: Something other people have. You have character lines.
                                    —Lutheran Digest, Volume 58, Spring 2011, No. 4, p. 48.
Song for Today:
O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour, And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
                        —“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” Helen Howarth Lemmel
Writer’s Question: Would you write without a byline? Send in your answers on this and I’ll print some next week, along with my response.
Writer’s Tips:
Why do you write? (continued):
Because Writing Is Fun
You may think you don’t like writing because you were forced to do it back in your school days.  Working on your own ideas, however, is totally different than school assignments, and way more

Getting an idea; deciding whether to put it into a story, an article, or a poem; outlining it; and sitting down to write it is a great experience. Then after going back over it and smoothing it out, or as someone put it, “separating the garbage from the gold,” you can submit it to a Sunday school take-home paper, newspaper, or magazine. Even when you’ve already been published, it’s still rewarding to show your friends and family a story with your byline!

·   **  Next week, income tax deductions for writers. If you want to see these before then, go to my web site:

Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction, February 3, 2014--Why Do You Write?

A Step in the Write Direction

February 3, 2014

Update: Not too much to write this week. Have done several income taxes. Years ago I had an income tax business for 18 years with over 200 customers, and now I just do 20-30 a year, mostly people who work at the hospital with our son and daughter. For those who haven’t received it, I have a list of tax deductions for writers. Email me at: …Interesting facts from yesterday’s sermon: 75% of believers are in non-Western world (Africa, Asia, South/Central America); more Muslims are coming to Christ than ever before; Muslim judge in Iraq pleaded for someone to come and tell them about Jesus as he didn’t like the senseless killing that was going on; 6-7 million have seen the Jesus film in their language; 85% of pastors in non-Western world have only 5 minutes of pastoral training. And what I liked, Satan doesn’t know he’s already lost. He thinks he still has a chance.  (Jim Baugh).

Thought for the Day: God sent every person into the world with a special message to deliver, a special song to sing...No one else can speak my message or sing my song...These are entrusted to me (Father J. Nash).

Laugh for the Day: It was Super Bowl Sunday and in our Presbyterian church the time for the collection of tithes and offerings was approaching. The minister, a true sports enthusiast, reached into his pocket, took out a quarter, flipped it into the air, glanced at it as it landed, then in typical referee fashion joyfully announced: "The ushers have elected to receive!" (The Gospel Greats newsletter, 1/21/14).

Song for Today:
“I will pour water on him that is thirsty;
I will pour floods upon the dry ground.
Open your heart for the gift I am bringing.
While ye are seeking me, I will be found.”
                        —“Ho! Every One That Is Thirsty,” Lucy J. Rider

Quiz for Today:
Unscramble the following words related to writing (Thanks to Peg Phifer for this):
1. stryyem
2. aorcnem
3. sneessup    
4. tdaoveolin  
 6 yipssnso 
9. oghraabuitopy 
11. drliieapco  
12. rmgkantie

 Question for you: Would you write if you didn’t get a byline? (I’ll give you my answer next week.)

Writer’s Tips:

Repeating the saying that changed my writing life. Up until hearing this, writing was a hobby for me—something I did whenever I found the time. After hearing this, it became a calling, and I believe I am as called to write as a minister is called to preach:

“We are called to write and I feel we will be responsible at the Judgment for the people who are hurting that we could have helped but didn’t because we didn’t write what God laid on our hearts to write” (Harold Ivan Smith).

Why do you write? (continued):
Because Your Writing Can Help Spread the Gospel

As a teen, I loved listening to missionaries speak. Their work sounded exciting, especially those who went to Africa. I was disappointed that God didn’t call me to the mission field.

Years later a friend brought me an article to edit that she eventually sold to Decision magazine. Two young men in Africa read it and became Christians. I realized then that writing—and helping other writers—was my mission field.

You may not go to a far-off country, or even leave your hometown. However, through your writing about what God has done in your life, and what He can do in the lives of your readers, you can reach people all over the world.

Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

 "A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"