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Monday, January 21, 2008

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,



Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...

I am so very honored to be selected as an honorable mention in Lysa's writing contest. I am a brand new fan of P31!

Knellums said...

I appreciate your tips. God laid on my heart earlier in the year to write for Him. My passion is for mentoring younger women/mothers and God said to me "what better way to reach more women than writing?" I've prayed profusely about it, talked to my husband, and he said "Go for it!" So, this is where I am. Learning about what God is having me do.

Shonda said...

Thank you for sharing these tips. I want to learn and apply what you shared to the writing I do.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy weekend to read all the entries.

I'm considering the conference this June. I hope to attend, God willing.

Blessings in Christ--

MrsJoeB said...

A big thank you for the time you spent away from your family in all that reading. Your tips are very helpful and I will keep these in mind as I expand my writing. The blog entry I submitted wasn't in article format but was submitted for the content to be considered. Here's a question for you--Should we write out blogs more in an article format for that potential of being used one day for publication?
You are a blessing! I'm praying about the "She Speaks" conference!!!
In His Graces~Pamela

Elisa @ Extravagant Grace said...

Glynnis, thanks for your tips and the sacrifice of time! Your suggestions were very helpful.

I just went back to reread my article with your points in mind and see that my ending was a bit too abrupt. I struggled to know where to wrap up the story, since I tend to finish all my blog/writing thoughts with devo style reflection questions. I hesitated doing that in this case, and now I realize I left the ending without a full conclusion.

Writing this article also brought about some questions. I found myself editing back and forth between personal reflection in the first narrative and departing from self-application in order to pose questions of my readers in a more general sense. Is there a rule of thumb for article writing, in this regard?

Thanks for your thoughts and all your time!


extragrace (at) gmail (.) com

Miss Sandy said...

Thank you for all these delicious writing tips and for all the reading you put in over the weekend. I would love to attend the conference in June and mentioned it to my husband this morning to see if we can swing it.
Remaining Hopeful,
Miss Sandy

Lelia Chealey said...

Thank you for dedicating so much time & love into us "hungry" writers. :) Hungry to learn that's for sure, so I ate up everything you said. It was funny last night I had fallen asleep on the couch & woke up around 2am. I had to shower & then decided since I had my 2nd wind to see if Lysa has posted yet & to my surprise she had. I got into bed & told my husband I didn't get chosen & he said, Oh, I'm sorry honey. I said, No, don't be, I gave it to God. I also went on to tell him that after reading the winner's entries, I realized that my entry would be good for an online devotional, but not for a magazine. :) I can't wait to learn more. You all are a team of such God-servin' women that are just sharing your gifts with us, so thank you so much!
My husband & I have been praying about She Speaks, so I hope to see you in June, Lord willing. :)
Thanks again Glynnis!

Amy Wyatt said...

Thanks for all of the time you guys spent this weekend reading all of our posts. The contest was a great motivator to write and your tips are much appreciated. I hope to submit somthing else to P31 in the future and am planning on attending the conference again this summer. I attended last year and thought it was wonderful! Very informative and all of you girls are just so "real" and easy to talk to. Thanks again for taking time out of your schedule to help and encourage us.

Julie said...

It's funny when I consider writing. Many have encouraged me to, but still I just have a hard time embracing it all.

I found about the opportunity for publishing at the deadline, so I just selected one of my blog posts and hit submit, knowing it was not written for publishing, but thinking "what the heck?"

The whole thing caused me to consider what I am doing. Am I trying to get published? Am I writing to make my name known? What is my motive.
I came to the conclusion that I am not. I don't really see myself as a published author, but more as an encourager with words.

BUT as I read your information, which by the way was very helpful, I gathered information to make the reading easier for those God allows me to encourage.

Thank you.

I loved the movie, "Finding Forrester". In that move Sean Connery's character, a published, well known writer, mentions starting with a quote and then just start writing. The times I have done that it has made writing what's on my heart so much easier.

Have you found that helpful at all?

Again, thanks for the words of wisdom.

I am new to blogging and it was fun submitting my article as I got to read ALOT of good writing AND find some new friends. Thank you for taking the time to read mine.

Many blessings,

Kim S in SC said...

What great instruction. Budding blogger that I am, I need this kind of help. I hope you will continue to post helpful hints! Thanks so much!

Jessica said...


I hope you're having a wonderful day.

Thank you for the "Tips for Writers" post - it was great...


Digging for Pearls said...

Thank you for the tips for how to write a good article. Although my entry was not picked, I have learned some new ideas that will hopefully help in the future. Thank you for your sacrifice of time reading through all the submissions. May God richly bless you.

Dawn Ward said...

Thank you so much for the writing tips. I will take them to heart and use them in future writing.


tiggerdaisy said...

Glynnis, thank you so very much for all the encouraging words and helpful tips. You truly are a sweet gift to us ladies! :)

I was wondering if you would address the issue of publishing poetry? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Blessings and Prayers!

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Thanks for the tips! May God richly bless your sacrifice this weekend!

MrsProverbs31 said...

Thank you so much for the suggestions. It was so fun to enter something for fun and now I'm learning as well. Wow. I am going to work on it until I get it.

Heart of Wisdom said...

Great tips for magazine and bloggers. Thanks. I missed the contest but love the idea. Hope it makes a come back.

Homeschooling Blog

Homemaking blog

Glynnis Whitwer said...

Hi friends,

I wanted to reply to a question about whether blogs should be written as articles for future consideration.

If you have a goal to be published someday, then I would suggest you definitely polish your blog entries and format them more like articles. Publishers will visit your blog to find out more about you. If you give them a stellar proposal, and then they go to your blog to read more of your writing, only to find some sloppy entries, they'll wonder about the real writer inside you.

My friend Lysa uses her blog to sharpen her writing skills, and now she has a wealth of great writing to use in future books or articles.

However, all that said, a blog shouldn't lose it's personal, talking-with-a-friend feel either. I'm sure there's a happy medium in there somewhere.

So give it some polish, but keep it informal too.



Laura said...

thank you,glynnis! can't wait for shespeaks!

Celly B said...

Thank you for the wonderful tips. I am really trying to make my opening paragraphs "punchier." Also, I am trying to make my paragraphs shorter, something that goes against my English teacher training. Another thing I am trying to unlearn is two spaces after a period; I had that ingrained in me in my high-school typing class! Thank you for caring enough about our writing to list these suggestions for improvement!