2013 Conference Reflections: “Begin and End with a Bang” by DeWayne Ruggles

DeWayne Ruggles shares his NCWA Renewal conference experience.

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 DeWayne Ruggles picThe 2013 NCWA Writers’ Renewal Conference was my second, my first being in 2011. During the 2011 conference I didn’t look for anyone to talk to, other than the friends I already knew from NCWA. This year I actually sat down and talked to an editor (Jesse Florea) outside of his workshops and editorial sessions.

I attended Jesse’s editorial session with some hesitation, as I had not intended on writing anything for children. I ended up taking not only his “Begin and End With  A Bang” workshop, but enjoyed the workshop so much that I took the chance to talk with him during the meals and networking time, and I decided to also take his second workshop: “Dos and Don’ts of Writing For Children,” which very well could have been entitled “Dos and Don’ts of Writing.”

The opening notes of your story need to grab your audience’s attention and hold it long enough to get them to the end when the final notes are heard.

“So where should I begin?” an author might ask. The opening must grab the heart instantly. If a story has too much of an introduction and doesn’t start in the middle of the action, the editor will probably never get to “the good part.”

Start where the action is, and work backwards.  Sometimes the lead is the first thing you write; sometimes it is the last thing you write. Find your opening and get it out front where the reader will see it in the first 20-30 seconds, that’s 4-5 average length sentences. For an audience of children you have only half that time to get a reader’s attention. Do whatever it takes to hook the reader as soon as possible.

Do not allow yourself to engage in a lethargic beginning and assume the reader is automatically interested in what you write. Study compelling leads, and practice creating attractive openings, so that your editor, and the rest of your readers, will reach the end of your story.

The first two or three paragraphs act as bait, enticing an audience into reading the entire story.   They should guide the reader smoothly into the rest of the story, conducting them to the finale, where the tone leaves the reader listening to a symphony which satisfies, yet is tinged with dissatisfaction in that it is conclusive, but not completely. You do this by stopping your story before it actually ends. Indeed, let your reader hear the echoes of the final notes fading ….

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Despite having worked in Children’s Church and being known by kids as “The Juggling Guy,” DeWayne never intended to write for children. Two conference workshops presented by Jesse Florea, editor for Clubhouse Magazine and Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, changed his mind. Currently DeWayne is busy writing about his adventures of growing up in Alaska for possible submission to Clubhouse.

 DeWayne Ruggles has been a member of NCWA since 2009, working with Audio Visual support. Recently he also took on the “webmaster” position.

Visit DeWayne’s blog at: http://rugglesroamings.blogspot.com/

Or email him at: webmaster@nwchristianwriters.org

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