Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Endings. Edits. Inspiration.--Linda Thomas

“Father … You met me at every fork of the road
with clear guidance and fresh grace.
I beheld Your glory.”
~Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Quiet Moments with God

If you’re working on three stories, you already have three chapters-in-the-making for your memoir. Congratulations! That brings us to today’s lesson:

All-important endings:
Finish each of chapter with punch and muscle. Make the end the high point of your story. A weak ending could make your story fall apart and deprive readers of its richest message. Writing the ending might be the hardest part of your story.

Tips for writing endings:

1. Pray!
2. Read Cindy Blomquist's post on "Endings."
3. Review the definition and goal of memoir.
  • Why are you telling this story?
  • What is your current understanding of what God was doing?
  • Include Bible verses that illustrate and validate your story.
  • As a result of the incident and/or writing these stories, what did you learn about yourself? About God?
  • How was your faith strengthened?
  • What new person did you become?
  • Cause readers to think, ponder, smile, shed a tear, and apply your story’s lessons.
  • Remember: your stories can shape the spiritual lives of your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other readers.

4. Take plenty of time to ponder the message you want to give readers, and make your ending pop!

Edit your work:
I’ve heard that 80 percent of what we communicate is misunderstood so we need to re-write and edit for clarity.

  • Set your story aside for several days, then print it and read it aloud. Eyes catch typos on paper that they miss on the computer, and ears hear choppy or ambiguous words.
  • Does your story make the point? (Do you know what your point is?)
  • Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Will they understand your story? Have you used lingo or “Christianese” your readers might not understand? Eliminate anything that causes confusion or clouds meaning.
  • Read Carol Brinneman's post , "The Ideal Final Draft."
  • Ask a trusted friend or writer to critique your story. (Critiquing is not fault-finding; it’s evaluating and analyzing. It’s meant to help the writer.) Many, but not all, of their comments will be valid. Revise, set it aside, re-read, and revise until you’re satisfied.
  • Polish your story and make it shine.

Next week we’ll consider ways to compile your chapters—along with the many more chapters you’ll write throughout your life (hint, hint). That brings us to...

God has been more involved in our lives than we recognize or remember, so here are ideas to inspire additional stories:

  • Who are your spiritual role models? Why?
  • How have others’ prayers kept you going?
  • What are the two most delightful surprises God has given you?
  • When have you “beheld His glory” (John 1:14)?
  • Other possible topics: your salvation; God’s forgiveness and grace; an agonizing decision; a closed door; wanting to quit; doubting God’s call; feeling put out to pasture.
  • Genesis 50:20; Exodus 4:13; Deuteronomy 33:27a; 2 Chronicles 14:11; Job 23:10; Psalm 4:8; 40:3; Matthew 10:27; John 1:16; Philippians 4:19; 2 Timothy 4:17a.
  • What are your lions and bears? Click here
  • See Carol’s blog post . Think “chapter” in place of “article.”

Next week: The grand finale! A Memoir Writing Contest! Get ready to submit what you are writing--details in next week's post!

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