Tuesday, July 12, 2016

11 Things I’ve Learned from Top Christian Writers

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

I’ve been blessed to attend and teach at hundreds of Christian writers conferences. My habit is to always purchase the CDs or MP3s of every conference so I’m able to continue to learn from the masters. Gathering those recorded classes is, bar none, the wisest thing I have ever done for my writing career.

Here are the best eleven things I’ve learned from top Christian writers.

11) VOICE - Gayle Roper – Gayle talked about voice. “Your voice isn’t something you learn. It’s who you are. It’s how you think, how you speak, how you phrase. It’s when you take a breath in your conversation. Instead of worrying about finding your voice, write with the voice of who you are. Learn to polish that in the finished product, but be true to yourself. Write who you are, not who someone else says you are and you will find your voice – and it will draw readers in and never turn them loose.”

10) REALITY & HUMILITYAlton Gansky – My first conference, I wrote down Al’s words. “If you want to write for God, you must understand your words may never be bound in cover and placed on a bookstore shelf. They may only be meant for the person sitting next to you.”

9) SUCCESS - DiAnn Mills – “Each book is a success for me, whether it’s award winning or not. I place my heart and soul into every word that goes onto the page. When I complete a book, I lean back in my chair and feel great success. Success is in the completion of a quality project, not in the trophies we receive. The trophy is in knowing you’ve put your best into every word.”

8) PLOTJames Scott Bell“Here’s the obvious! You gotta have a beginning. You gotta have a middle. And you gotta have an end (the class laughs hysterically).” He concluded, “You laugh, but it’s true. Every beginning has to thrust the reader through a door that closes behind them, leaving them in the middle where they are propelled through its door. That door slams behind them into the ending segment – and an end, that leaves the reader wanting to step through the last door, but won’t allow them to . . . because they enjoyed the ride so much, they never want it to end.”

Find joy in every situation.
7) JOY - Deborah Raney – Deb Raney’s sweet nature and tender smile are as warm as a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy winter day. When a writer asked what her favorite challenge in writing was? She replied. “It’s in finding the joy in every situation. Life is hard, but there is joy even in the hardships. If a writer can guide a reader through the rough patch and into the joy the future holds, then they’ve accomplished a solid story. I love to find the joy.”

6) THE MAGIC PARAGRAPHthe late Ron BenreyRon’s magic paragraph – a skill of writing that draws the reader deep into the story. Ron’s elements for the magic paragraph: 1) signal the reader whose head you’re in. 2) Twang a sense or start a thought process. 3) Show what the character experienced.  4) Start the character thinking.

5)  CHRISTIAN WORLD VIEWAnn Tatlock  - My eyes were opened as this wonderful, soft-spoken woman spouted solid, tell-it-like-it-is facts about the Christians role in instilling a wholesome, God-centered, focus in the words we write. “When the world says write it this way, your job is to focus your eyes on Him. Write the words that glorify God, not the ones that stoop to the lower standards of the world.”  When I write, I am in control of who and what I want to represent, and am I representing it in a way that would please my Father in heaven – despite what the world demands? Wiser words could not have been spoken.

6) WRITE COLORFULVonda SkeltonI recently listened to Vonda teach about exploring life with “eyes wide open” – looking at every situation in life as a scene in a book. What great insight . . .when you apply this insight to your novels, you find a wealth of detail, emotion, and movement that holds a reader’s attention. “Write colorful. A measure of detail adds depth and color to a scene that the reader connects with.”

5) BELIEVE IN THE STORYJeanette Windle“You have to write what you believe and believe what you write. Stay the course.”  She is so right and I’m a product of that very thing. When I listened to Jeanette, I realized if I don’t believe in what I write, how can I expect anyone else to believe? From that day forward, I stopped trying to write what others thought I should write, and I wrote what I believed.

4) WRITE YOUR BESTYvonne LehmanI gleaned these words from Yvonne that I read every time I sit down to write. “Anybody can write a story. They can throw words on a page and wave them in the air. There is a difference in writing a story and writing your best. If you don’t do your best every time, learn more, and write your best again, then you are doing yourself and your readers a grave injustice.”

3) WRITE FROM CONSEQUENCESteven James – When I heard Steven talk about tackling tough subjects, it was profound. “Write from consequence. Rather than standing on your soapbox, wagging your finger in the readers face. Show them the consequence of the action. You’re approaching them from a different side of their brain and hopefully then, they hear what you say.”

2) JUST WRITEBob Hostetler – Bob walks the writer through the joys of a writer and the consequences of a writer who must write, but doesn’t. “Just write, because you are called to write. Just write because it is what is threaded through your soul. Just write.” His point is driven home to all writers who want to write but fall prey to allowing life become our reason not to write

1) DETERMINATIONRobert Benson – This quote says it all. "Determined is the proper posture for a writer. Hurried is NOT the proper posture for a writer."

Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. She teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. This post is full of treasures. Thank you Cindy.

  2. Cindy, Thank you for sharing. I am blessed by my brothers and sisters. Robert Benson's quote convicted me. I feel rushed to finish my book. Please pray I will be determined not distracted by the finish line.

  3. These nuggets are motivators. Thanks for opening your hand for us to see your treasures.
    Write on!

  4. It's best to look back at the words of those who have guided us along the way.

  5. What a great article, Cindy. I'm especially taking heed not to hurry. Pressure to produce doesn't necessarily create memorable writing!

  6. Thank you, Cindy, for this very worthwhile article. I tweeted the one about DiAnn Mills.

  7. Thanks for sharing this. I've been binge-reading articles on how to write fiction, and it's so refreshing to find one from a Christian writer's perspective.

  8. Thanks for sharing this. I've been binge-reading articles on how to write fiction, and it's so refreshing to find one from a Christian writer's perspective.

  9. This is full of great of advice. Thanks Cindy!

  10. Wow, this is great info. I'm glad it was shared on the West Coast Christian Writers Facebook page. I'll let my hubby, Joe know to check out this blog!