Maureen Pratt, CAN Member-at-Large

Maureen Pratt

Hello, again! Maureen Pratt here with my monthly CAN blog about the art and craft of writing. This month’s topic is, “Help! Where’s my story?!” or, “What to do when your story goes one way while you go another.”

Whether we write fiction or non-fiction, plotting or outlining is often an essential part of the publication process. From the first query to the last book cover blurb, most of us try to envision the beginning, middle and end of a work before we dive in.

But, as we authors know, as hard as we might work on those early ideations, “things happen” once we get started. New facts come to light. A secondary character takes center stage. A plot thread we knew was right suddenly becomes oh-so-wrong.

How do we handle these and other creations of the creative process? First of all…

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Hello from Jeanette! I’m in the process of last-minute preparations for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference (March 26-30). This conference is always a highlight of my year. I attended for the first time in 1995 and now have the honor of serving on the Support Staff as the coordinator of the first-timers’ Buddy System.

If you have never attended a conference like Mount Hermon, I highly recommend it. Here are just a few of the things I love about writers’ conferences:

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BioPicBlues Jan–nostalgic and wishing we could get together and chat about writing over a cup of tea or coffee.

Yesterday, I slid a package out from my mailbox at the end of the country road where I live. Inside, along with a couple of text books I ordered, was a book about writing nonfiction and understanding the editor’s perspective. Earlier today, I turned to another resource to look up a grammar tip. What was that rule about . . .?

After that, I read a few blogs I visit from time to time and read about writing and marketing. On a recent road trip, I listened to an entire track from a 2009 Mount Hermon conference on article writing and a few others on speaking.

I love to remain curious and learn new things generally, but I know I must when it comes to my writing. I’m guessing you know that too. After all, you stop by this blog to read the posts hoping to pick up something new and interesting.

How do we, as professionals, take it a couple steps beyond perusal to making it a part of what we know well and apply to our writing?

I’d like to offer one quick two-part tip for today:

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Kern_web shot Jan here, enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon in the foothills of the Sierras. Today I’m considering the readers of the books we are writing–the essential person that we must keep in mind.

Over the years I’ve critiqued quite a few nonfiction proposals and manuscripts. The writers pored out their souls in their manuscripts, sometimes to the point of (figuratively) bleeding on the page. Each hoped their story would make a difference in the lives of others who had experienced similar struggles.

I found the ideas of many of the stories compelling. And yet, for some, the delivery left me feeling alienated from or cautious about the heart of the message. Why?

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