Thursday, November 22, 2012

No Backstory

I keep hearing this phrase "NO backstory in the first 50 pages".

Problem is ... what exactly do they mean?

Often you have to inform the reader as to the thoughts and reasoning of a character and that sometimes includes background information. ( Even the setting can be confused for backstory. )

When writers and editors say not to put back story in the first 50 pages, according to the people I then questioned on this after having said it, they are generally talking about adding paragraphs of info dump. And I have seen people do this. Paragraph and paragraph of why the main character is kissing the girl or fighting a bad guy. It bogs down the story before you even care about the characters or their plight. Not good.

A sentence or two, properly framed around a triggering event (such as the flowers at a funeral that remind the heroine of the flowers her ex-husband used to bring her) are more than appropriate. They do indeed ground the reader.

If it is normal for the character to think about an event extremely briefly, then by all means add it. If you have to go into a long diatribe, then cut it until later. (Or start the story earlier because you have begun too late. I did that in one of my WIPs. When I finally realized it, I went back and added a whole new scene and cut some of the later backstory explanation to a new comer in my story. The balance can be hard.)

If you need to add background details to make the storyline make sense, just hint at something being not right at that point and don't forget to find a good way of explaining it in short later. A well done back story will make a book good, a poorly done one will sink the ship.

Don't sink your ship, but don't forget to add the paint.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rejoicing When Things are Tough

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 KJV

Paul penned this to the Philippians a very long time ago while he was in prison. For many times through out my life this has been both a comfort and a word of encouragement, until recently. For the last few years of my desert experience, I have had contentions with this statement. How am I supposed to rejoice always? This was an impossible command. Like so many other commands that seemed to contradict themselves, this one was impossible to follow when you were down and life weighed a million pounds. Oh I know that God was still working in my life and others lives. In truth, I had no doubt that a lot of the trouble I was wading through was not only for my benefit but for others around me. Many others.
But I came back to there was no way I could honestly be happy, joyful, and rejoicing in my trouble. I was down right sad, mad, and frustrated. Life wasn’t fair and mine wasn’t getting any better. No. Rejoicing was not in my vocabulary. How could Paul even ask that of us?
The song came up the other day, just as a really low point in my life hit again. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Bah Humbug.
As I walked, cried, and sang with the song, the light lit and I suddenly understood. The command wasn’t to be happy about my sorrows, troubles, pains. Paul was told God’s grace was enough and that he could get through what ever it was that ailed him. What made me think that making a joyful noise (rejoicing) had anything to do with being happy? The command was “don’t moan, cry, whine, mumble, grumble, and complain.” Is that not what the children of Israel kept getting in trouble for in their desert experience?
Okay, so what did the command mean for me to do? I was to focus on God. To rejoice in what we have received from God, the promise of Eternal Life with Him in the new world, the promise of a mansion in heaven. This trouble is momentary but if we focus on this moment’s troubles, we loose sight of the bigger picture and we loose hope. And hope leads to faith and faith to the things unseen, such as God and heaven. Without hope, we have nothing but despair.
So the command as I have seen it is rejoice anyway. Even if you are sad, rejoice by making joyful noises that praise God specifically and what He has done in your life. Remember His grace to you and rejoice for we still have hope even in our lowest times. Rejoicing in God’s love and grace, even if all we can see is the cross, will bring us back from the brink of our own despair and we will have hope. God’s hope. The hope of the future. Our future with Him for and eternity of a wonderful life and a mansion in heaven that Christ has prepared for us. Hope.
So REJOICE and MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE, even if it is dripping with tears of our sorrows, for we have Hope.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pray In Everything

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

Have you ever started out doing what you thought you should be doing only to be thwarted at every turn? What was God doing? Why was He allowing all these roadblocks and difficulties? Didn't He know how hard you were working at doing all this for Him?

How many times do we start out on a path we think is right, only to find that this was not really God's will for us in the first place? I know I have a very bad habit of doing something before checking with God. A little time in prayer before I began a project might have saved me oodles and boodles of time and wasted effort. Truth is, prayer is the first thing I should have done and is often one of the last I get around to when I reach a rough spot.

Not every thing I do may really need His approval; laundry, sweeping, sleeping, cleaning, driving, and so on. These are mundane tasks that He knows needs to be done. But would they not probably be easier and less frazzled if we prayed for God's direction and strength in our everyday tasks. He does care about those tasks as well as the bigger ones, such as what college to attend, what degree to major in, what jobs to apply for, who to marry, should we have kids or wait, what mission trips to go on or to sponsor, or how to help that pesky neighbor in God's way? These are the bigger questions and certainly need prayer before embarking on them, but we need to pray about our everyday lives and our every day mistakes as well, for He wants to be there for them too.

So remember each day, no matter how hum drum the day's tasks, to stop first and pray for God's guidance, protection, forgiveness, and strength for this day. You may just find your days going a lot smoother and, at the very least, with the grace of God to reach tomorrow.

God bless, and pray before you plan. Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Well Come

Greetings and well come to my new blog. 
                    (The appropriate response is well met.)

I am hoping that this is the beginning of many new things. 

On this blog, I will be writing about writing, about working, about family, and most importantly about God. 

Somewhere interspersed here and there will be a wealth of information on anything I happen to be researching as well. I will also be posting some of this on my website too. 

This is my second website and I expect I will learn quite a bit as I go, so I do hope you will have patience with me and come back often to see the changes going on.

God bless and good journey.