On “Good” Writing (blog by me)

When I first began writing, I used http://www.duotrope.com to discover new publications. I submitted every piece of writing to the editors of the publications I found there. To stay organized, I created three folders in my email for their replies to my submissions: a) rejections, b) rejections that requested additional writing, and c) acceptances.  Of course, the rejections folder was filling up the fastest. Although the number of rejections was disappointing, it drove me to learn more about the publishing industry. In particular, I wanted to know: What do editors consider “good” writing? As a more experienced author and editor, I now understand the most important factors of good writing.

  1. Good writing is subjective. Even though my writing was rejected by one editor, eventually some other editor would love it and publish that same rejected piece of writing. This led me to conclude what we all know but (as writers) cannot hear often enough.  As individuals, we all have different opinions of what is good. If you have a piece of writing you love, keep submitting it. You just haven’t found the right editor yet—or maybe the right publication.
  2. Good writing should uphold the mission of the publishing company and fit the theme of the publication.  The mission statement of the publishing company is usually stated plainly on the website. Reading the mission and considering it can provide you with the necessary insight to submit the most fitting piece of writing to that particular publication. (Draw Near’s mission is clearly stated on the MISSION & CONTACT page, and the most recent theme appears on the CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS page.)
  3. Good writing follows the rules of punctuation and contains no spelling errors. Although some writers might think breaking some punctuation rules or making a spelling error is no big deal, it actually is problematic to editors. I strongly recommend regularly reviewing guide books on punctuation and researching every questionable rule of punctuation that surfaces as you write. Additionally, read your writing several times for spelling errors prior to submitting. The competition in the writing industry is fierce. Do not let yourself lose an opportunity based on technical errors.

I hope these tips I learned during my writing journey will help you to get more of your writing published. Don’t let rejection letters steal your hope to become a successful writer. Instead, use those rejections to drive you to hone your skills and to become a more savvy writer. Have a great day and God bless!

 

On Writing Poetry (by me)

I have not written many poems lately because I am currently reviewing poetry submissions for a new project called Blessed Creation: A Christian Poetry Collection. This publication will provide writers the opportunity to spotlight an aspect of God’s creation with their poetry. If interested, please visit the Call for Submissions page. In today’s blog, I want to share my process for writing poetry.

I usually start my poetry writing process with a memory. If I am not inspired by a memory, it could be a dream, a beloved animal or flower, an art piece, a sermon, or someone I saw on the street… Really the possibilities for inspiration are endless! From this inspiring idea, I develop and jot down one or two lines for the poem.

Next, I try to decide if what form the poem should take. (See http://www.shadowpoetry.com to learn more about poetry forms.) If my primary purpose is to communicate a concrete message, I will often choose free verse. Mangling a message to fit into a rhyming or syllable form simply will not do. However, I love expressing flexible ideas through rhyming poetry forms like a sonnet or rhyme royal. Rhyming poems can be fun, beautiful, and complex. I personally prefer to use near rhymes instead of obvious rhymes to make it sound more sophisticated. (Visit http://www.rhymezone.com to access near rhyme suggestions for your own poetry.) Syllable poetry forms like haiku and sijo are useful to capture the short attention span of new readers. (Visit http://www.wordcalc.com if you don’t like counting syllables by hand.) When no poetry form seems suitable, I simply invent my own poetry form! Creative people create. We can’t help it. Once the form is selected, I can add more lines to the poem until it is complete.

Once the poem is finished, I reflect on the message of the poem. For me, there is always a balance to be struck. I review and ask myself questions like:

  • Does the poem honor God?
  • Is it original?
  • Was I transparent and “for real” about my true emotions?
  • Would it be considered offensive or judgmental?
  • Does it reveal God’s heart for His people?
  • Is it too syrupy sweet?
  • Does it glorify sinful practices in any way?
  • Does it speak truth according to the Word of God?

If I don’t like my answers, it is time to rewrite the poem to ensure the integrity of my work as a Christian writer. In obedience to what God has called me to do, one thing is certain—I keep writing. My readers here on this site really encourage me to fulfill my calling as a writer. I could not continue day in and day out with your supportive likes and comments (which I can read although they do not publicly post). (If you seek an encouraging poetry community, you can find one at http://www.poetrysoup.com.)

That’s it! I hope the review of my writing process helps you in some way. If you landed here because of your interest in writing but do not consider yourself a Christian, please visit Draw Near’s About God page. Additionally, I am happy to read and reply to emails if you simply have questions or concerns about the Christian faith. (See the Contact page.) Maybe there is a more significant reason you landed on this page. Thanks for reading and God bless!

Best 5 Missionary Books

Today’s blog recommends five amazing missionary books. Reading about Christian missionaries reminds us how active God is in the modern world and the ways in which He continues to expand His kingdom. Here is the list of brilliant books about Christian missionaries:

  1. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew is about a Dutch Christian who smuggled Bibles into many European countries when they were forbidden due to communism.
  2. The Heavenly Man by Paul Hattaway is written about a Chinese man named Brother Yun who suffered terrible persecution in his own country because of his faith.
  3. Bruchko by Bruce Olson captures the story of a young American who was determined to share Christ with a notorious Indian tribe in South America.
  4. A Cry from the Streets by Jeannette Lukasse tells the story of Dutch missionaries who felt called to care for poor orphans living on the streets of Brazil.
  5. City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell weaves together the real experiences of a variety of missionaries into one beautiful fiction book about an American couple living as missionaries in China.

These incredible books will inspire you to seek God’s will for your life and trust in His provision no matter the circumstances. (These titles could probably be borrowed from a local library. If not, they can be purchased on nearly any major bookseller site.)

*Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing forever free ebooks.

On Writing & Editing

This is a blog for Christian writers….writers who feel God’s call to write yet have been rejected….writers on the verge of giving up on a dream….writers who desperately want to know why editors, agents, and publishers keep rejecting their masterpieces. Don’t give up! There is hope.

While working as an editor for Draw Near’s latest forever free ebook Spiritual Citizens: A Christian Fiction Anthology (found HERE), I was able to pinpoint some strengths of good writing. I selected the inspiring stories for this anthology based on three primary criteria: message, clarity, and emotion.

1. Good writing conveys a message. The stories within Spiritual Citizens communicate a clear message to readers without necessarily spelling it out. The authors assumed their readers were intelligent enough to derive the message themselves.

2. Clarity is mandatory for all fiction. Skilled authors write detailed movements by every character. I must have rejected dozens of stories for Spiritual Citizens even though they seemed to have clever and unique plots because the action in the story was unclear.

3. Emotion plays a major role in every memorable piece of art. Excellent writing inspires some feeling. If an author writes well, the reader will be moved either by joy, sorrow, humor, fear, or some other emotion. Several of the stories in Spiritual Citizens literally moved me to tears with one of these emotions.

I am certainly not the best author in the world, but the knowledge gained from being an editor makes me a better writer. My hope is that it will help you refine your fiction as well so that one day an editor, agent, or publisher will recognize your talent for writing and put it on a lamp stand for all to see. Have a good day and God bless!

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!