GailGaymerMartin_headshotHello from novelist Gail Gaymer Martin at

In the Outlining for Screenwriting which I attended at the Gideon Film Festval, the second point deals with the topic of creating characters arcs. This is an important element in writing novels as well.

2. Create individual character arcs. What does the character want? What does the character need? The need factor is often the hidden desire of the character. The difference between the want and the need are sometimes in conflict and an effective technique is to create a situation where to gain what the character needs means to give up what he wants. This is an excellent technique to create conflict.

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Hello from novelist Gail Gaymer
Martin at

Recently I attended the Gideon
Film Festival and Media Conference at Ridgecrest and learned many techniques
for writing screenplays. These same points work for fiction as well, and I
believe that many screenwriting techniques can enhance fiction. In the next
five weeks, I will share these points with you.

The first point was: Define
the overall theme or meaning of your work. What will happen and why does it
matter? Why? If your story does not make a difference, if it doesn't matter,
then why write it? How can it serve the reader?

Think first of non-fiction
novels. Can you imagine reading a book that didn’t have a point. A non-fiction
book focuses on a topic or theme, It has a purpose. Fiction is no difference.
Your purpose could be to point out the foibles of the human condition. It could
be to dramatize how a mother’s love can push her to give her life for their
child. A novel can be a story of good verses evil and shows the power of good.
It can show the power of love. It can dramatize that we are not alone, that others
share our fears, worries, or sinfulness.

When a novelist sets down to
write a book, he has an idea. It may begin as people doing things, but if it
doesn’t have direction or purpose, it falls flat. Think of Gone With The Wind
without the backdrop of the Civil War. How long would anyone remember that

As an author of Christian
fiction, my purpose is often focused on a Bible verse that sums up a major idea
in the book. For example, Proverbs 16: 9 reads: In his heart a man plans his
course, but the Lord determines his steps. This book would be about someone who
has made a life plan— a career, a goal, success, fame, an accomplishment—but
things happen, and the character realizes to reach that goal, he may have to
give up something else equally important.

While you might not write
Christian fiction, any genre can be summed up in a sentence that points out
what the major theme or purpose of your novel seems to be—good wins over
evil, love is worth fighting for, a parent will give their life for their child,
lies tangle lives, gossip only begets gossip, beauty is in the eye of the
beholder, and laughter can heal. You can think of many more. These themes work
for a romance, a thriller, a western, or any genre.

I know this works because of
reader mail. Letter after letter reveals how my novel has made a difference in
someone’s life. They tell me what they learned about themselves or about
someone else. They tell me how they found an answer to a question or how they
realize they need to ask questions about their life. They walk away with
something that has made a difference.

When you sit down to write a novel, ask yourself what you want
the reader to take away when she finishes. If you can’t answer the question, this
is the reason your story is not making an impact on an agent or editor. It
might be why a reader enjoys it for the moment and can’t remember the title or
what it was about two days later. Write so that you make an impact on your
readers with a purpose. Create a theme or a message that you want to leave
readers with at the end of your novel, and you will have written a memorable
story that makes a difference. 


Headshot glassesFrom Written Word to Spoken Word

Tips by author and speaker Cheri Cowell

One of the most frequent questions asked of me at writer’s conferences is “If I speak on my book and tell them everything that is in there, why would they then buy the book?” When I first began writing and speaking, I was fearful of the same thing. However, I quickly learned three valuable lessons.

1. Lesson One: Don’t Speak on Your Book- Speak on a Topic for Your Target Audience

You’ve seen it on television, the “expert” author who’s every other word is, “In my book…” Even worse, they tease the audience, only giving two of six tips “available in their book.” These self-promotional gimmicks rarely cause someone to run out and buy the promoted book, and often has the opposite effect, causing resentment not future readers. The solution is to not speak directly on the information covered in your book, but instead look through your book for jumping off topics.

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Jonah thm

Kona with Jonah

  • ISBN-10: 0899573959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899573953 

In Kona with Jonah, a four-week Bible study, readers encounter the character of God and their own need to embrace radical forgiveness. In seeing God’s love for the murderous people of Nineveh—ancestors of modern-day Iraqis—they come face to face with One whose mercy extends even to the most despicable.  Leader’s guide included. The Coffee Cup Bible Study series (AMG) is designed for both group and individual use with guided study on the weekdays and relevant devotionals on the weekends. Each study comes with the entire Scripture book of the Bible or passage(s) included. 

Sandra Glahn, Th.M. is adjunct professor, Christian Education and Pastoral Ministries, at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), her alma mater, where she serves as editor in chief of Kindred Spirit magazine. She has finished the course work on her doctorate in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition she serves on the women’s executive committee for, where she’s a regular blogger for the women-in-leadership Tapestry site. 

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Christmas Homecoming

  • ISBN-10: 1602605645
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602605640

Last week we featuredChristmas Homecoming and one of its authors, Elizabeth Ludwig. This week we want to tell you about Elizabeth (Beth) Goddard, who also co-authored this book.

Elizabeth Goddard began her writing career as an inspirational series reviewer for ROMANTIC TIMES BOOK CLUB MAGAZINE, then continued with articles, reviews, and devotionals. Her first novel, Seasons of Love (Barbour, 2007) was repackaged into a 3-in-1 collection as CRANBERRY HEARTS and released July 2009. To date, she’s contracted with Barbour for a cozy mystery, a novella anthology, and working on a series set in North Dakota. Disarming Andi, her first book in the series for Heartsong Presents, releases in March 2010. 

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