Friday, July 26, 2019

5 Characters You Don't Want in Your Writing Story


by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Authors go to great lengths to develop engaging, relatable, and winsome characters. Many experts say strong characterization is the key to a successful novel. If we can craft a charming lead, pull together a strong supporting cast, and weave a dynamic plot, we have a chance at a best seller.

Our writing journey, however, is often fraught with characters that have no place in our story. They add nothing to the plot, fail to move the action forward, and drain energy and momentum. As we self-edit the writing pages of our lives, here are five characters we’d do well to cut out:

Impatience
Impatience is a bossy character, full of ambition and steam. While Impatience sometimes gets stuff done, it does so at the expense of others. It shoves people aside, disregards protocol, and blows past learning opportunities with nary a backward glance. Worst of all, impatience steamrolls its own agenda with little regard for God’s timing. 

Haste
Haste often plays a supporting role to Impatience. It fails to fact check, ignores the squiggly lines in Word, and seldom stops to proofread. Devaluing excellence, it submits work without editing and poo poos the value of letting writing sit for a few days before revising. Haste’s goal is completion, not conscientiousness and often substitutes quantity for quality.

Selfishness
Selfishness is the character everyone loves to hate. Narcissistic to the core, this bad boy concentrates on advancing his website, his book, and his ministry above all others. He monopolizes conversations, agents, and editors at writers conferences and employs questionable or rude methods to better position himself. Eager to accept Likes, reviews, and guest blog posts but unwilling to give, Selfishness capitalizes the I in the middle of his name so everyone will know who’s most important.

Jealousy 
Jealousy might be the ugliest character we encounter in our writing lives. Despite its bright green eyes, Jealousy is ugly and small. It refuses to rejoice in the successes of others, believing, somehow, they diminish its own. It carries a tape measure everywhere, measuring other writers’ careers, platforms, and writing ability. When Jealousy turns its measuring stick on its own work, it receives no joy, for it maintains a mental list of others whose success is greater.

Agnosticism
Surprisingly, Agnosticism makes at least a cameo appearance in every Christian writer’s life. Known for a faith that ebbs and flows with circumstances, publishing trends, and rejection letters, Agnosticism fails to rest securely in God’s promise that no plan of his can be thwarted (Job 42:2). It second guesses God’s call to write and doubts God will use its writing for his purposes. Working in its own strength rather than God’s, Agnosticism seldom prays and often frets.

So here you have it—five characters we should diligently edit out of our writing stories. If you think you’ve seen any of them skulking in the shadows or sneaking through the pages, hit the search feature in God’s Word, select Find, and remove any highlighted results. Better still, use the Find and Replace feature to substitute new characters that will advance the narrative of your writing life and draw you closer to the Lord.

Now it’s your turn. Which characters have you found to be the most detrimental to your writing life? What steps have you taken to remove them?

TWEETABLES


Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbiamagazine and the author of several devotional books, including Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women, which won the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in the spring of 2020 with Discovery House.A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter( @LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

14 comments:

  1. What a unique, original post dealing with common traps of the enemy! Thank you, Lori!
    Blessings on you as you write for King Jesus!

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    1. Thanks so much, MaryAnn. God's blessings on your writing.

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  3. Lori, I wondered where you were going with that title. Great post!

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    1. Ahhh, the power of a title :) Thanks for your kind words. Write on!

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  4. I find them in my writing far more often than I would care to admit. Thank you for this wonderful post on how to better "watch" and edit for them ma'am. God's blessings...

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    1. Sadly, J.D., so do I. The constant battle between the flesh and the Spirit is so daily. But by God's good grace, we'll see them less and less :)

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  5. I am guilty of jealousy and hate. I am so jealous of people who don't have to work for a living and can write all day. They are living the life. Meanwhile, my daily word count is about 500 words in a good day.
    Great post, Lori.

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    1. Ingmar, I hear ya. Others' writing lives seem so much easier. As someone with two jobs, I sometimes find, though, that I accomplish more by working steadily in small increments than my jobless friends who have all the time in the world. When we have to squeeze out every writing moment, I think we're less likely to fritter away our time. Keep writing, friend. Five hundred words a day (with a sabbath off) is the equivalent of two novels in a year.

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  6. Thanks, Lori. This great post is one we can all learn from. :)

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    1. I'm so glad it blessed you, Joann. Write on!

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  7. Love this post! I'm sure each of us have encountered these five characters...and thank you for a great list of flaws for my real fictional characters. :-)

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  8. I'll add "fear" - fear of my writing not being adequate, not being exactly what God wants, often prevents me from even getting started. Yet, I know that he just wants me to "get busy" and he'll give me the words. Thanks for the reminders!

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  9. Julie Lavender had a good addition: fear. I agree, and add a different reason: what if I do well? What if my writing wins Selah Awards, Christy Awards? What if I'm invited to be faculty at writers conferences? What if that one project is the only one I can complete successfully? People will realize I'm a fake. A "one hit wonder." Not capable of meeting my own or others' expectations. What then?
    Thank you for an excellent article, Lori!!

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