davalynn-spencer-small

Davalynn Spencer here, welcoming multi-published author Stacy Hawkins Adams for an encore visit to the Christian Authors Network.

Stacy, tell us how many books you have published and a few of your latest titles.

I have ten books nationally published – nine women’s fiction novels and one nonfiction, spiritual devotional. My most recent title is a novel I released in March 2013, called Finding Home. It is the third book in my Winds of Change series, but as with the first and second books in the series, it is a stand-alone title, so you can start with any one of them.

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Linda J. White

Linda J. White

Linda J. White here, writing from my shady back deck in Somerville, Virginia. I just got back from the Eastern Shore, where I had book signings at two independent bookstores at the beach–just one of my face-to-face marketing techniques. Read More →

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A story is a connected narration of real or imagined events. There are many types of story, including science fiction, romance, myth, fairy tale, tragedy, and adventure. The full range of storytelling is limited only by the human imagination, yet there are key principles that apply to all stories, and all stories can be classified in different categories or subgenre.

Stories have an internal logic driven by a premise acting through characters and conflict to move the plot from a beginning point of attack, through one or more crises, to a climax that resolves into a resolution. There is a wide range of variation within this approach, but the key principles apply to almost all of them. The classic story formula goes something like this: (1) The hero wants something enough to do anything to get it. (2) The hero faces a difficult adventure or problem in trying to get what he wants. (3) The hero faces serious obstacles. (4) The hero overcomes the obstacles. (5) The hero reaches his goal and gets what he wants (i.e., the princess, the money, revenge, etc).

 

Steps for Constructing Your Story

  1. Start your engines: Formulate your premise

The engine of your communication is the premise that your communication must prove in a logical, impressive way (given your genre and medium of choice) in order for your audience to be affected by your story and message in exactly the way you desired. In most cases, an impressive proof of your premise will require lots of interesting illustrations—verbal or pictorial—and plenty of technical, dramatic, or literary effects.

For another perspective: the premise is where you are going (let’s say Hollywood); the plot is how you get there (let’s say you miss your plane and decide to take a car, but the car breaks down, etc.); the people who travel with you are the characters (let’s say that each one is a friend of yours who does not get along with anyone else); and, the themes are the continuing interactions between different sets of characters (let’s say your friend Joe wants to lead your friend June to Jesus Christ).

The audience will want to know where you are going up front. In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the audience knows right from the first act that Frodo has to take the ring to the mountain where it was originally forged and destroy it. From the beginning of Finding Nemo, the audience wants the father, Marlin, to find Nemo. How the hero achieves his goal in spite of all the obstacles the writer throws at him produces the excitement in the story.

The key element is your premise. The premise is the motivating power that drives your communication. Your premise is an active, dynamic statement of the argument that you will prove in your communication. It is the essence of your communication. The premise holds the key elements of the message within your story, in a neat and compact package. Quite simply, the premise is a sentence with an active verb, a subject, and an object that summarizes your story, and tells you where you are going—your goal. In discussing the role of a premise and elements that emerge from the premise in a dramatic play, Lajos Egri has noted:

A play [or movie] can be judged before it reaches actual production. First, the premise must be discernible from the beginning. We have a right to know in what direction the author is leading us. The characters, growing out of the premise, necessarily identify themselves with the aim of the play. They will prove the premise through conflict. The play must start with conflict, which rises steadily until it reaches the climax. The characters must be so well drawn that, whether or not the author has declared their individual backgrounds, we can make out accurate case histories for each of them.[1]

A writer has many ways to arrive at your premise. You may have an idea, or a conviction, which you will convert into premise. You may be intrigued by an obligatory scene, event, or situation and want to develop that scene, event, or situation into a premise. To convert your scene or idea into a premise: look for the drama, the meaning, the conflict and the purpose inherent in that idea/scene. State the purpose, meaning, and conflict in a simple, active sentence. This sentence becomes your premise.

Suppose your idea is to communicate that God is love. Ask yourself what your purpose is—why you want to communicate this particular message. Your answer may be that your purpose is to show your audience that God loves them, us, mankind, and/or the world. Be as specific as possible by refining your purpose in light of the answers you have found to your ascertainment questions. In this example, you would also want to ask the question, “ How does God love them, you, or us?” Your answer will depend on the way you answered your ascertainment questions, but may be that He loves us by comforting us in sorrow, by delivering us from fear, forgiving us our transgressions, or by rescuing us from drug addiction.

For our example, let’s say your purpose is to demonstrate the forgiveness inherent in God’s love. In light of your answers to the ascertainment questions, state your premise in a simple but specific sentence such as, “God’s love forgives the transgressor.”

What does that mean? What is the conflict inherent in that statement? Forgiveness must mean that a wrong was committed which has alienated the wrongdoer, perhaps because of his/her feeling of guilt, or knowledge that a just judgment is awaiting him or her. God’s love conflicts with and triumphs over that alienation by forgiving the individual from judgment and healing him/her from guilt.

Your premise gives you the direction, the basic elements, and the conclusion of your communication. In our example, the direction and the conclusion of your communication is inherent in the active verb, “ forgives.” Since you are going to demonstrate how God’s love forgives the wrongdoer, you will conclude your communication at that point where the forgiveness is a reality for the transgressor. The initiating force in your communication is God, and the object of your communication is the forgiven transgressor. The conflict is the negation of the verb/object combination, which, in terms of your premise, is the transgressor’s alienation that resists forgiveness. By resisting the direction and conclusion of your premise, the conflict forces your proof and propels your communication along.

Let’s assume that you decide, because of the audience and medium that you have chosen, to demonstrate your premise through a story. You could choose to make the wrongdoer a young woman who decides to run away from home to live the good life. After several adventures, she ends up destitute. She feels guilty for running away and for ending up destitute. You might decide because of your audience to represent the subject of your premise as the father who manifests God’s love. His love for his daughter causes him to go search for her. She sees him, but avoids him because of her guilt and fear of judgment. In the process of avoiding him, she is thrown in jail. The father finds his daughter, spends all he has to pay her fine and takes her home. When the father finds the daughter and forgives her, and she accepts his love and forgiveness, your premise is proved and the story is resolved, although you may want to top and tail your story to highlight the message of your premise.

Because of the nature of your audience, you may want to prove your premise in another genre. Whatever method you choose to prove your premise, by condensing your idea into a premise statement, you have given yourself a clear direction to follow in your communication plan.

Remember that any idea, scene, thought, or conviction may be converted into a premise that will drive your communication to a powerful conclusion.

To be continued…

Please read HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL) for a complete guide to filmmaking.

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Deb DeArmond
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Wedding season is upon us, so I’m thrilled to chat today with Deb DeArmond, a popular speaker and author of books about marriage and in-law relationships. Her most recent title is SO intriguing!

Deb, how did you get into writing? How many books do you have published?

Deb DeArmond

Deb DeArmond

I’ve always been an avid reader, and I speak for a living. I love words. But like many good/God things, writing came as a surprise. An unexpected gift. For nearly 20 years, three people in my life, my husband, brother, and a good friend, asked me constantly, “When are you going to write a book?” Honestly, I had no clue what they were talking about. Until God tapped on my heart and dropped a topic there. That was in 2012. I’ve published three books since then: Related by Chance, Family by Choice (Kregel, 2013), I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last (Abingdon Press 2015), and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! (Abingdon Press 2016). Read More →

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Author, Dianne Barker

Dianne Barker here with a few words of encouragement. Are you tired of jumping hurdles and pushing past obstacles that seem to impede every step? Here’s an idea. Launch out into the deep and let down your nets!

The Lord told Simon Peter after a disappointing fishing trip, “…Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (see Luke 5:1-11).

A crowd had gathered around Jesus by the Lake of Gennesaret to hear his teaching. He got into Peter’s boat and asked him to take it out a little further from the shore. Then he sat down to teach the people.

When he’d finished he told Peter to take the boat out to the deep water and do some more fishing. Peter and his friends were already washing their nets—done for the day.

“Master,” he said, “we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” He didn’t argue. He simply stated a fact. His diligent labor had produced nothing.

Go fishing again? The plan seemed absurd…the situation hopeless. With nothing to go on except the word of the Lord, Peter made a decision that, to onlookers, might have seemed irrational.

“Because you say so, I will let down the nets.” He’d try again. Attempt something that appeared unfeasible and impractical. Just because Jesus said do it. He and his buddies caught so many fish that their nets began to brake!

“So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”

That’s the amazing outcome of obedience.

Are you frustrated, worn out, and downright discouraged because you’ve fished and caught nothing? You’ve trudged through years, devoted to the call of God on your life. Looking back you see little to show for your investment.

Someone whispers, “You’ve done your best, but your work has been unfruitful. Why keep wasting your energy? It’s time to quit.”

I’m familiar with that one-way conversation. It sounds so rational…so convincing. But the one speaking is our enemy—a confirmed liar! Do not give him the time of day!

This place of despair is just the right place for something amazing to happen. Jesus said, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets” (King James Version). Before pushing away from shore…

  • Pray about your dreams—those far-fetched plans of your youth, as yet unfulfilled. Ask the Lord what to pursue to bring him honor. Let his peace guide you.
  • List “starter” steps. And then move forward, one step at a time.
  • Focus on the future, not the past, relying fully on the word of the Lord.

Many years ago the Lord gave me a promise—his plans for my writing and speaking ministry. He didn’t say when this would happen, but the dream kept my faith strong. Life brought so much reality that it seemed my boatload of dreams might sink.

Struggling to keep believing the promise, I looked toward heaven one day and said simply, “What’s next?”

Someone whispered…a plan…specific steps toward the promise he had given long ago! I wrote them down and launched out into the deep–with nothing to go on except the word of the Lord. My boat overflows.

How will you invest the rest of your life? You’ll never know the amazing outcome of obedience until you launch out into the deep and let down your nets.

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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