Writing Craft

A Writer’s Beatitudes

In the famous “Sermon on the Mount” passage in the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew, Jesus presented a series of eight “beatitudes.” Each was a saying that turned conventional wisdom on its head, showing how in God’s eyes the oppressed are blessed and the despised are prized. No one can improve on those inspired beatitudes, of course. But what if we tried to capture their perspective and redirected them to apply specifically to the writer’s life? Such as:

Blessed are the writers, for to write is to create, and to create is to reflect the image of God.

Blessed are those who write in weakness and pain, for their honesty and vulnerability will enrich their writing.

Blessed are those who are humbled by success as well as failure. One is sun, the other rain; both are needed to grow.

Blessed are those who do not love their own words too dearly but hunger and thirst for helpful criticism and accept the work of an editor with wisdom and grace, for they will be valued.

Blessed are the writers who are readers, for whom books and stories and articles are their food and drink, for they will be filled, and out of the abundance of their hearts and minds they will write.

Blessed are those who delight in non-monetary rewards, for they will be richer than those who write only for money.

Blessed are those whose manuscripts are rejected, for (like saplings that withstand the storm) they will be strengthened by adversity.

Blessed are those who seek God’s glory more than their own, who are warmed by their names in print, but set aflame by a spiritual truth well expressed, for great is their reward in heaven.

Do you see yourself in any of the above? Would you delete or revise any? What “beatitudes” would you add to the list?

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The Ultimate Sound Bite

Can you boil the essence of your novel or non-fiction book idea into twenty-five words or less?

This is one of the keys to creating a marketing hook that makes your idea sellable in today’s crowded market.

You have less than a minute to make that hook work.

It is also called creating the “elevator pitch” or the “Hollywood pitch.” The goal is get the marketing department to exclaim, “We can sell that without any problem!” And ultimately to get a consumer to say, “I want that” or “I need that” or “I know someone who should have that.”

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Years ago, I took my five-year-old daughter to Toys R Us to meet “Barbie.” “Barbie” turned out to be a cute and charming teenager who, yes, looked like the classic blonde image of the doll. She wore a pretty pink gown. I expected a lot more fanfare around this event. …

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The Art of the Sentence

A month or so ago I asked some social media friends what sentence from a book rocked their world. The replies were delightful, and I shared some of them in my June 27 post on this site, titled “In Praise of Memorable Sentences.” There were too many, however, to include …

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In Praise of Memorable Sentences

In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard tells the story of a well-known writer who was collared by a university student, who asked, “Do you think I could be a writer?” “Well,” the writer said, “I don’t know…. Do you like sentences?” Dillard continues: The writer could see the …

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Test Your Writing Out Loud

Once you write something, try reading it out loud. It might change the way you write. I worked with audiobooks for a number of years and few things were more interesting than how something sounded when read aloud by the audiobook performer, whether it was the author or a professional …

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What Does Your Reader Need?

I attend many writers’ conferences, as an author, speaker, and agent. As a result, I meet and become friends with many fine people and outstanding writers. At a recent gathering, I enjoyed a spirited and stimulating conversation with an aspiring author who has a passion for reaching readers with the …

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I Feel This Post May Hurt Your Thinkings

Everyone has pet peeves. I have a menagerie of them. One of my favorites is the common (and fairly recent) tendency of English speakers and writers to confuse and conflate the words, “feel” and “think.” But feelings are not thoughts and thoughts are not feelings. That might seem obvious and …

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Book Reading in a Social Media World

At some point every writer confronts the trend of readers who would rather consume 140 characters in social media than 140 pages of words. Social media and smart phones change everything in our world and their impact on book reading and writing is substantial. At the same time social media …

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