It was a busy weekend for me. Not only did I watch my son's basketball game and my daughter's soccer game, stand up for some new parents at their baby's dedication, do 10 loads of laundry and worship God with my fellow believers at Vineyard Church North Phoenix ... but I read lots of fantastic blog entries.
If you read my blog last week, you'll know that my dear friend Lysa TerKeurst hosted an article writing contest. The winner(s) are going to get their blog entry publishes as an article in the P31 Woman Magazine (for which I am the editor).
We were really shocked at the number of entries, which was somewhere around 100. So you can imagine that we were blurry eyed by the end of the weekend. We truly loved all of them, but forced ourselves to choose three at the top of the list, and four honorable mentions. Please see Lysa's blog today to find out who won.
Although there were many really good posts, most of them weren't magazine ready. That's not too surprising, because they are blog posts. So we thought it might be helpful if I shared some suggestions on how to make your writing ready for publication. As you can imagine, strong and impactful writing takes time to develop and is truly a craft to be pursued. These are just a few tidbits to get you thinking:
1) Make sure the promise of your opening paragraph is fulfilled in the body of your writing. If your opening paragraph is humorous, then continue that lighthearted feel. You can make deep points, but don't totally change the feel of the article.
2) Stay on topic. Because our minds jump from topic to topic, it's easy for our writing to do the same. That's easy for a friend to keep up with over coffee, but it's more difficult for a reader to read that kind of hopscotch writing.
3) Have a great opening paragraph. Your opening paragraph is the first chance you have to catch a reader's attention so make it good. We often start in a chronological fashion, such as "I woke up yesterday morning ..." But what if you started with a quote? Or a question? Or start at the end of the story and work your way back. To get ideas, keep a record of opening paragraphs you like and dissect them.
4) Have a great closing paragraph. If you love music, you know how important the resolution of a chord is. It leaves you slightly unsettled when a song is just cut off. That's what it's like when an author just stops her writing after she's made her point. A closing paragraph is like a beautiful satin bow on a wrapped gift. Take a few moments to wrap up your thoughts in a pleasing way.
5) Be aware of your paragraphs. I always teach beginning writing to keep their paragraphs short - 3-5 sentences. I know this is contrary to what our kids are taught in their English classes, but it makes an article easier to read. when paragraphs are short. First, it makes the article LOOK easier to read because there aren't big blocks of type. Then, it forces the writer to keep similar thoughts together.
Oh well, I could go on, but my kids are home today and I think they may want to eat. If you believe God is calling you to hone your writing skills or expand your writing ministry, please pray about coming to our Proverbs 31 Writer's and Speaker's conference this June 20-22 in Concord, North Carolina (just outside of Charlotte). It's an amazing conference and we always sell out. I believe our registration will start at the end of the week. So keep checking back at http://www.shespeaksconference.com/.
In His Love,