Close Relationships

In the 1995 version of the movie Sabrina, Harrison Ford’s character paid attention to Sabrina while she grew up next door to him. His brother, Greg Kinnear’s character, never paid much attention to her so when she came back from a trip to Paris, he didn't know her or where she'd been all his life. Harrison Ford’s words when she arrived home from her trip were something like, “Hi, Sabrina. I see you're back from Paris."

Even though she’d lived next door all her life, the brothers responded to her in very different ways. Harrison Ford's character knew her immediately, but didn't really want a close relationship with her. Greg Kinnear's character had no idea who she was until he was told, but when he was finally able to see her, he wanted a close relationship with her.

This is an example of how we treat God. He’s around us all the time, but we don’t pay attention to him. When God is ready to open our eyes, it’s like we never knew him. Some get quite excited about finding God and want to be with him more and celebrate. Others see God in a new way, but after this eye-opening experience they go on through their regularly scheduled plans with nothing more than a comment.

I speak more about a close relationship with God on my Seek God With Me blog. Check out this week’s post in the Hearing From God series.

February's Almost Here

Caleb in Renegade Husband, Morgan in Leather and Lace, Grant in Lanterns and Lace, Travis in Lightning and Lace, Zack in A Texas Legacy Christmas, and Paul in When the Lion Roars. What do they all have in common?

They are a few of the heroes written by DiAnn Mills.

And now it’s Armando’s turn in Awaken My Heart

DiAnn Mills writes fun heroes who get into trouble at every turn. We always wonder how they’ll get out of their predicament. Many heroes need help from the heroine. Some work in cooperation with the heroine. But a true hero always comes to the rescue.

Join me on February 1 for "An Interview With DiAnn Mills" right here on this blog. We’ll discuss Armando and how she chose to write about him.

Writing Better Heroes, part two

The best heroes are strong in the beginning, persevere through hardship in the middle, and are generally rather desperate to win in the end. But there’s much more to writing a novel than having a strong beginning, middle, and end. That’s just chapters four, five, and six of James Scott Bell’s how-to book, Plot and Structure.

Part of JSB’s teaching employs an omelet illustration. I won’t quote him exactly, but let me give you the idea.

If seventeen different chefs each cooked an omelet, all seventeen plates of eggs would be different. Some will add veggies to the raw eggs, and some won’t. Some will top the omelet with cheese, and others will top it with salsa.

They all start out with eggs. They’re all cooked over similar temperature. And they are all enjoyed. But even though each chef followed the same basic formula, each recipe differed according to the chef’s tastes.

So it is with novelists. We follow basic plot lines that have been done before, but we add a unique twist. We turn the plot down an unexpected road. We find the right balance of conflict and tension release. And we find that the basic plot line has given us the freedom to create a unique story.

Why? Because the basic plot lines work. They’ve been tested time and time again. If we master the basics, we can enjoy the free flow of creativity.

He also teaches us ways to hold up the plotline in a structure suited to our individual stories. His graphs and charts help guide us to a better understanding. And his exercises at the end of the chapters give us a way to apply and practice the information we’ve just read.

Without the proper plotlines, our heroes will have nothing interesting to do and their heroic qualities will lie dormant. This book comes to our heroes’ rescue, enabling them to be heroic.

I recommend that Plot and Structure be read and studied – and read again if you didn’t get it all the first time.

Writing Better Heroes, part one

One way to write better heroes is to be quiet and let them speak.

Dead characters don’t move and breathe and act heroic. I like to read novels that employ living, emotional characters who exhibit heroic qualities. But a hero doesn’t come to life unless the novelist listens to him.

In her popular non-fiction book, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors, Brandilyn Collins teaches novelists to listen to their characters. I’ve read and studied this book a couple of times and plan to refer back to it as needed.

The title of her introduction is “Why Should a Novelist Care about Method Acting?” She builds a sturdy bridge over the gap between novelists and actors. We can learn from each other how to tell a memorable story. The seven secrets are ways to let the reader imagine they are watching the characters’ actions like they were watching a breath-taking scene in a movie.

The chapter on Inner Rhythm is one of my favorites. An actor can say the lines and do the movements, but still be so stiff in his role that nobody cares to watch. To be successful, a novelist must write a character’s words and actions according to the specific rhythms of that character as he encounters the scene. Actors and novelists must have insight into that character to breathe life into him. Inner rhythm is what makes the difference. There is a difference between the slow, hypnotic rhythm of a sleeping child as compared to the fast, tense breaths of a hero in trouble. The Inner Rhythms of the characters make their emotional words and actions believable. Hearing the emotion in the words is not the same as feeling it.

Also among the secrets is personalization, which is the way to uncover the facts about your characters and bring out their uniqueness.

This book is a gold mine of tips that bring life to the heroic qualities on the page. Every novelist should read this.

New Devotional Series

On my Seek God With Me blog, I've begun a new series about how to hear from God. The five part series covers several facets of the topic.

Part one of the series begins with James 1:22-25.

You can pull out your Bible and study along with me. Or you can share the series with a friend.

Choosing to Lose

Many are choosing to lose weight again this year. They plan to exercise, cut back on calorie intake, or both. But are they using the scriptures God gave us to help us in those areas?

Self-discipline isn't unscriptural. In fact, we use the scriptures to discipline ourselves when we're serious about our goals.

Read more thoughts on discipline in my Seek God With Me blog.

Writing With Confidence

What do you love about the male lead in a romantic movie? Among other things, his confidence.

What do you see in any successful model? Confidence.

What do you notice in every successful businessman and businesswoman? Confidence.

But we can’t always see in ourselves the confidence that others see in us.

Have you seen the James Stewart movie Harvey? Harvey is invisible to everyone but James Stewart’s character. He can’t understand why everyone else doesn't see Harvey because, to him, Harvey's as real as they are.

If we took that invisible friend scenario and flipped it on its head, we would be able to see how some creative people see themselves.

Confidence is the Harvey in many artists’ lives, except that it’s the others who see Harvey. The artists look in the mirror and don’t see him at all.

Many creative people (novelists included) are able to pour themselves into their work with great power and confidence, and then they back away to look at it and doubt its greatness. Others see the power and confidence in the work, but the artist doesn’t.

If only we could see what others see in us.


Today's post on my Seek God With Me blog gives God's recipe for success.

We hear stories about people who gave away much, but lacked little. Usually those stories are about people who were full of joy and compassion for others. They're generous people.

These people prospered in their hearts before they prospered anywhere else.

If you're planning out your year, drop by my devotional blog and be ready to Plan For Success.

My Devotional Blog

I want to take this time right here at the beginning of the new year to welcome new readers. If you are reading my blog for the first time, take a look around. There are hidden treats everywhere.

Last year, I started a devotional blog (Seek God With Me)and linked to it on my sidebar. Every week when I post on that blog, I announce it here so you can click on the link to visit.

The SGWM devotional blog is devoted to the how, why, where, and when of seeking God. I look for Bible verses that tell us how we can seek God together and separately. I discuss what to do when we find Him.

Today, I've posted about how to have a peaceful heart in a stressful time.

It's all about seeking God.