I try to cover all aspects of writing for publication. And one of the questions I get the most is how to write devotions that sell. Unless you’re writing flash fiction or poetry, a devotion will be one of the shortest pieces you’ll ever write.
A devotion is a piece that illustrates a truth through a story. Almost always, the truth being illustrated is a Scripture from the Bible. Occasionally you’ll run into other truths illustrated in a similar fashion, but these are generally referred to as meditations.
Because devotions are so short, they’re somewhat easier to keep focused. If you tend to be a writer who has trouble getting sidetracked, writing devotions will help hone your skills. Writing this short requires us to make certain every sentence refers back to the Scripture lesson you’re trying to illustrate. In something so brief, side trips—no matter how enlightening—are strictly forbidden.
Terminology Note: Most people outside the industry interchange the words devotion and devotional. Contrary to popular belief they are NOT synonyms. A devotional is a collection of devotions.
Most devotions range from 100 to 700 words in length, with the average being around 250 words. There are certain conventions you should be aware of when you pen a devotion, but few hard and fast rules.
Here are some of the guidelines commonly followed
- There’s always one single lesson per devotion (this is about the only hard and fast rule).
- There’s a tie into a single Scripture—usually no more than 1-2 verses.
- They’re short—generally 150 to 400 words.
These are the aspects that can change
- The placement of the Scripture—it’s common to have it before or after the body of the devotion.
- Thought for the day—some devotions include them and others don’t.
- Prayer—again, some have them, some don’t.
- Challenge or question—this is another aspect that is up to the publication or author.
There are many places that accept devotion submissions. Some offer payment, others only clips (a public place where you’ve been published). Personally, I love to write devotions and I love to read them. One of my favorite sites is http://www.christiandevotions.us/.
If you’ve never written devotions before, this is an excellent resource to learn how and they accept submissions. Their policy now is to offer clips, but no payment. Their site gets a lot of hits so it’s a good place for a beginning writer to start.
Now it's your turn, what devotion sites do you like to read? Where have you submitted devotions? Share your tips and remember—
Don’t forget to join the conversation!