The clock on my dashboard read 6:35 p.m. Turning my eyes back to the road, I peered ahead through the darkness while flipping on the right turn signal for Exit #22. Whew, I was going to make it with a few minutes to spare. I’d have just enough time to socialize and connect with a few authors before the meeting began.
Since September on the first Monday of each month, I rush home from work, brush my teeth, run a comb through my hair and set off like a wild woman to the NCWA meeting. As usual, March’s meeting was well worth squeezing into my hectic schedule.
For the devotional, Joshua Williams used I Thessalonians 5:11 and Hebrews 3:13 to remind us that we are admonished to encourage others rather than seeking it for ourselves. When we practice encouragement, we end up receiving our own blessing.
The Write Start exercise “Colorful Writing” was helpful too. “Take a look at these pictures,” Barbara Koshar told us while she pointed at a screen displaying a middle aged man, a young woman, and a boy. “Now write two or three sentences describing each of these characters wearing a blue suit, and don’t you dare use a plain old word like blue to describe it,” she threatened. “Spice it up with navy or periwinkle. Tell us how the suit fits, whether it’s old or new, wrinkled or pressed.” Practice this exercise and it will add depth to your characters.
Use startling research because solid factual information adds a punch to what you’re trying to communicate. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of an editor and eventually your readers. A quote that astonishes them will make them want to keep reading.
My favorite advice was to use strong emotion. Judy reminded us that people want to feel something; so make them feel. Make them laugh and/or cry.
The trickiest section for me of any story or article is the ending, and she had some great advice for that area too. Leave your reader with a memorable takeaway. The end isn’t the place to be preachy or to end with a short sermon. Instead leave your audience thinking about what you said throughout the article.
Good writing takes hard work and a whole lot of effort, but the rush that comes when you open an acceptance letter is well worth the sacrifice.