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Terms of Endearment

Since Katy and I often brainstorm together on story development for her writing projects, I thought it be fun to come to this year's ACFW conference and learn more about the process. I was amazed by the quantity and quality of the information delivered by some great presenters. I'm sure I only absorbed a small fraction of what was taught, and I may have even dozed off once or twice due to the non-stop schedule. Nevertheless, I will attempt here to illustrate some of the elements that the experts agree make fiction more compelling:

Noble Goal: The intention to spend all day Saturday helping with housework.

Conflict: The fact that two very important college football games are on TV this Saturday.

Tension: A sense of foreboding due to not remembering if I actually promised Katy I would help with housework.

Micro-tension: Katy and I standing in front of a pile of dirty dishes. Our eyes meet.

Dark moment: Those eyes are irresistible. I blurt out that I am available all day and in fact, Katy deserves much more help than I have offered in the past.

Denouement: I was wrong. The football games are next Saturday. While working together, we find time to discuss Katy's writing project and apply some of our newly gained insight and inspiration to her story.

Epilogue: Now, instead of only being able to remark "Good scene!" or "I don't get this.", I'll be able to offer the much more helpful, "The character arc of your protagonist lacks sufficient motivation to raise the stakes and advance the story."

Katy will be so glad I was paying attention.

Posted September 25, 2009
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Life Verse

While enjoying dinner with new friends during the ACFW Conference, the subject of having a "life verse" came up. As each friend shared the scripture verse that most profoundly spoke to their life, a little bit of their heart and journey was revealed. Even the one who had never heard of the concept could immediately point to a passage that had uniquely shaped her faith.

I suppose every verse in the Bible is a life verse ("The words I have spoken to you...are life." John 6:63), but certainly some seem to carry special personal significance for a certain time or even for a lifetime.

Years ago I was praying about a career change and was unsure how to discern between what I wanted and what God wanted. In one of those unexpected moments, God reminded me of the verse, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) God gently let me know that if I delight in Him—enjoy His presence, His word, His people, His creation—God will align my desires with His. That's a truth that would take a lifetime to get right.

The only danger in leaning on a life verse is that life changes, and while what God said is eternal, God's word is alive and relevant right now. I don't want to forget or ignore what God has promised in the past, but I never want to miss what God is saying today. You never know at what unexpected moment God may bring to mind a verse or passage that sets a new course or shines light on God's plan in a new way.

Recently I asked my lovely wife "What's for dinner?" and Katy suggested I change my life verse to the words God spoke to Peter in Acts 10:13.

"Rise, kill and eat."

Posted September 21, 2009
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