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I’ve been writing for a lot of years. One thing I’ve noticed is a lot of the “rules” that make up good writing works for life as well! That’s what Writerly Wisdom is all about. This week:


One of the rules of writing is to keep the story moving forward. Back story is anything that’s happened to the characters before the story actually starts. Writers love back story. And, in fact, we need to know some of the characters defining moments to understand why the character reacts in a certain way in the present story.

But too much back story bogs things down.

Life is the same way. If we get too focused on our past, we aren’t moving forward. And moving forward is what we should be doing. The interesting this is that whether we’re focusing on the good or bad things in our past, it keeps us from moving forward.

For example:  The star high school quarterback who relieves his glory days over and over isn’t moving forward. He’s stuck in the past instead of living in the future.

Another: The victim in an abusive marriage relieves the horror over and over. And that makes her afraid to get involved with anyone else–ever again.

Neither of those situations are good. Just as a story should keep moving forward, so should we.

What’s stopping you from moving forward?



Writerly Wisdom–It’s all about the story!


One of the things I had to learn as a new writer was to stay focused on the story–not all the insignificant details that didn’t matter and had nothing to do with the story. When I first started writing, I’d show my character getting up; getting ready for the day; even what they ate for breakfast; and move them through each facet of their day.

Somewhere along the way something exciting would happen that would be about the real story. But it took a lot of energy and writing to get there. Boring!

It’s all about the story–whether you’re talking about a novel or life!

So what does that bit of writerly wisdom have to do with real life?

A lot. Sometimes we forget what our focus (our story) is. Instead, we get caught up in all sorts of insignificant activities that have nothing to do with the story we want to create for ourselves. Details that distract us from creating the best story we can.

Sometimes these details can actually derail us from the real story. Not good. In other words, stay focused on the story!

If you want to graduate from college, stay focused on the academics–not the partying.

If you want to get married and have children, then date people who have the same idea.

Yes, we need details in our stories to make them come alive(and in our life), just don’t let the details take over so that you stop focusing on the story. Because after all, it’s all about the story!


Writerly Wisdom–Take A Break!


It’s Wednesday so that means time for another bit of Writerly Wisdom. And it’s the last Wednesday of the year! I don’t know about you but that’s a bit of a shock. I don’t know where the time went. Anyway, it being the last day of the year, I thought this would be great advice:


Wise writers know that taking a break from your writing from time to time can do wonders for the story.  Something magical happens when we take a break. As I focus on other things, little gems wander into my mind that will improve the story.  Sometimes, even clarify what the real story is–not the plot but the spiritual truth of the story.

This holds true in life as well. Most of us are way too over committed to all sorts of things. Our family, our careers, our community, our church. We’re so busy running around and doing that our mind goes on overload. And just as a washing machine malfunctions when it’s overloaded, the same can happen with out minds.

That’s when it’s time to TAKE A BREAK.

Relax, Rejuvenate, and Remember what life is really about.

That’s it for this year! Wishing you a happy and blessed 2015!





I’ve learned a lot about writing during the past twenty years, and a lot of it can be applied to life. That’s what WRITERLY WISDOM is all about.

So, this is actually THE FIRST RULE of writing. There are many things to learn about writing but if you don’t master this one…well, let’s just say the book won’t be as good as it could be.

As a writer, SHOW DON’T TELL means that you don’t tell about the event but you use your words to paint a picture so that the reader is transported into your story.

For example, this is telling: Her wedding was just the way she’d always dreamed it would be.

This is showing:  Marcy gave her niece the signal, a tap on the shoulder. The four-year-old’s little pink dress swished as she made her way down the aisle throwing rose petals as she went. When she saw her mother, she threw her a kiss. 

Marcy straightened out the pearl-laden bodice on her gown, then smiled up at her father. “Are you ready?”

He patted her cheek. “Me? Are you ready? Is this what you want?”

“What do you think? It’s the only think I’ve wanted since I met him when I was twelve.”

He hugged her. “Then lets get this show on the road.”

They stepped forward in unison.


So that’s what SHOW DON’T TELL means when you’re writing. But in life, it takes on a different meaning.

In life we do a lot of talking, especially to our children. We’re always telling them what they should do, what they shouldn’t do, the right thing versus the wrong. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, we should tell them that but more than telling them, we should SHOW them.

In other words, actions speak louder than words!

Don’t tell your kids to be kind, show them.

Don’t tell your kids to be honest, show them.

Don’t tell your kids to live a a life of excellence, show them.

So get out there and SHOW DON’T TELL.

Was there a time when words weren’t as important as actions? Tell us about it!