Profanity — Acceptable or Unacceptable

Okay, so I have heard differing views on this in the Christian writing realm, and was surprised when I attended a workshop recently where the speaker spoke about the importance of including “absolute truth” in our writing, be it fiction or nonfiction. This speaker also stressed that “absolute truth” only comes from the Bible, which I completely agree with.

The speaker also spoke about the difficulties of getting published with a Christian publisher because they have very strict rules, and the speaker mentioned that if we, as writers, want to reach non-believers, we won’t be able to do that if we publish with a Christian publisher, which I tend to agree with.

However, the speaker also said that it was okay to use profanity; that it makes it more realistic.  (This is something I have heard many times before).  I have been thinking about the contradiction in that workshop — “absolute truth” from God’s word, which clearly says, in Ephesians 4 and 5, where Paul is preaching about believers living as children of the Light:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.  

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure:  No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”   (Ephesians 4:29 – 5:10)

I know that I could have simply shared Ephesians 4:29, but many people make accusations about taking scripture out of context, so I wanted it to be clear that the context is clear.  There is no question that we are not to participate in such behaviors, according to the “absolute truth” of God’s word, the Bible.

Therefore, if we are not to participate in those behaviors with our mouths, isn’t also our responsibility to not participate in those behaviors with our pen or keyboard?

As for the thing about using profanity making it more realistic, I have to say that I live a real life and do not use profanity, and in my real life it has been my experience that when others know that I do not use profanity, even if it is a normal part of their speech, they try not to use it around me and if they slip and use it, they immediately apologize.  My husband has told me the same thing happens to him.

Finally, I have to say that I know many people who use profanity daily, and yet I have never heard them complain about a book that they have read or even a movie or T.V. show that they have watched stating, “That was unrealistic.  There wasn’t enough profanity in that.”  Nor have I heard any of them base their like or dislike on a book, movie or T.V. show on how much profanity, or lack thereof, was included.

Therefore, I will continue to stand on my convictions and write profanity-free.

What do you think?  Profanity — Acceptable or Unacceptable?

One-Day Super Saturday Writers’ Conference

A writers’ conference is a great place to learn more about writing techniques and marketing and publishing opportunities and possibilities.  It is also a great place to meet other writers and make connections and form bonds, which is a wonderful thing since writing is a lonely business.  You can make lifelong friends who can help and encourage you and you can do the same for them as you walk your writing journey.  I attended this event last year, and cannot wait to attend this Saturday.  If you are anywhere near Lancaster County, I invite you to come and see what this one-day conference has to offer, and if you like, I can meet you face-to-face if you let me know you are coming so we can connect.

LANCASTER CHRISTIAN WRITERS HOSTS ONE-DAY CONFERENCE ON APRIL 11, 2015, AT LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE

For a bargain of excellence and price, no writer, whether beginning or advanced, within driving radius will want to miss Lancaster Christian Writers’ Super Saturday 2015!! to be held April 11th, 2015, from 8:30am.-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601.

This one-day writers conference offers a full slate of workshops taught by top industry professionals in both fiction and non-fiction fields. An early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 8, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch (think Panini!) and LCW membership. Registrations after April 9 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Dina Sleiman and Kelly Long along with children’s author Brenda Hendricks. Non-fiction faculty include TV/radio speaker, marketing expert, award-winning author of 19 books Karen Whiting, professional memoir and ghostwriter Shawn Smucker, journalist/social media experts Lisa Bartelt and Alison McLennan.

Keynoting the opening session will be linguist, missionary, and author Grace Fabian. Workshops cover such topics as: 

Market Yourself Now! Learn Tools to Develop Press Kit, Bio, Website, and Other PR Products.

Writing Blockbuster Scenes: How To Keep Readers Flipping Pages and Asking For More.

 Transformed Manuscripts: Repackaging Your Ideas (Sold or Rejected) to Expand Marketability.

 The Unfortunate Truth in Fiction: Addressing Hard Issues Without Pulling Down Your Story.

 A Story To Tell: Surefire Do’s and Don’ts to Write a Gripping True Life Story or Memoir.

 Myers-Briggs for Your Protagonist: Applying Personality Types to Create Characters with Distinctive Qualities, Motivations, and Voices.

 Let’s Ride the Seesaw: Recruiting Your Inner Child to Communicate with Young Readers.

 100% Guaranteed (Oh, Yeah?) Secret to Blogging Success Beyond Your Wildest Dreams!

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Conference attendees can get personal consultations with faculty on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lancaster Christian Writers welcomes writers of all churches and denominations, all levels and genres. Monthly meetings offer opportunities for manuscript critique, networking with other writers, workshops and guest authors.

My Writing Process

1) & 2)  What am I working on and how do I write what I write?

I currently have two works in progress (WIP).  I have been working on an outline and character questionnaires for a story and am still working on that.  However, that doesn’t seem to quench my need to be creative.  I guess I am just too used to writing “by the seat of my pants” (pantser), which is how I have written stories ever since I started writing way back when I was in junior high school, (what many places now call “middle school”).  I do not want to give up on the one that I am working on with an outline and character questionnaires, though, because I want to see what really does work better for me — “pantsing” or “planning”, or maybe I’ll be able to find something in between.  Any suggestions for something in between?

You may be wondering, “doesn’t pantsing require extra editing”?  All I can say is “not for me”.  You see, the way that I write, I simply sit down and begin writing and let the characters introduce themselves to me, and I let the characters tell the story.  I just type.  The next time I sit down to write, (which should be everyday, but, sadly, is not), I reread all that I have typed; and, yes, I do this each and every time I sit down to work on the story I am pantsing.  Isn’t that time consuming, you may ask.  Yes, it is.  However, it serves three wonderful purposes to me.  It refreshes my mind about the story, I change things and make edits on what I’ve written each and every time I sit down and reread, and it gets ideas flowing and awakens the characters, and they continue telling me the story.  That way, if I write a scene that I feel is lame or that doesn’t fit or advance the story, I can get rid of it the next day.  I just wrote such a scene last night, and the more I thought about it after walking away from my writing, the more I decided it does nothing to advance the plot.  Therefore, when I sit down to write again, be it today or tomorrow, I will get rid of that scene.  So, yes, I also spend time thinking about my stories and characters while I am not writing, which also helps my writing process for the next time I sit down to write.

3)  How does my book differ from others in its genre?

The only answer I have for this, is that it is written by me, in my voice, with characters I created in their own circumstances.  I hope that their circumstances and the plot is something fresh and new to the genre.  I hope that my characters are characters that you come to care about quickly and that you come to love and will not want to say goodbye to at the end of the story.  I hope there is an underlying Christian theme/message that will inspire you and touch your heart.

4)  Why do I write what I write?

Because I have to.  I have a need to get these stories on paper (or computer) because they will not let me rest if I do not.  I also write the kinds of stories that I love to read, and I may be writing more than one genre eventually because I have a story idea burning inside me that was born of helping my son with one of his writing assignments for his homeschool writers’ club.  It introduced me to a new genre that I never tried writing before and didn’t think I’d want to write, but I had so much fun helping him, that I just might give it a shot when I finish the two WsIP I am currently spending my time on.

5)  How does my writing process work?

I described my writing process near the top of this post, and when I did, I alluded to the answer to this question.  I haven’t reached a definite decision which writing process works best for me yet, but I do still enjoy writing as a pantser much more than as a planner.  However, because I haven’t yet had a story published, I can’t really say that my writing process definitely works, but I do believe that whatever writing process I (or you) are most comfortable with will be the one that will work in the end because if I am (or you are) using a process that I am (or you are) comfortable with, I believe I (or you) will be more productive and produce good, if not great, work.

What is your writing process?  Is it working well for you?  Leave a comment and let me and my readers know.

Can What We Read Hinder Our Own Writing?

I am well aware that what we read has an affect on us, whether good or bad.  I am also well aware that, because of this, it is important to be careful of what I read, and I have recently learned something else about what I read:

What I read affects my thoughts and ideas and can hinder my own writing.  You see, I was told about Bookbub several months ago.  For those of you who may not know what Bookbub is, it is a service that sends me a daily email with the daily ebook specials (under $10, and quite a few Free) available at Amazon and another online book seller or two, for that given day.  So, I downloaded a lot of the Free choices that sounded like the kinds of stories I like to read and would like to write.

What’s wrong with that, you may ask.  Well, here’s what’s wrong with that, at least for me.  I read several of the books and found some of them quite good, as far as a story line goes.  But, I also found that many of them had language included that I do not use nor do I prefer to read or hear, if I can help it.  A couple of them also had sexually explicit material, which I also prefer not to read.

The next thing I noticed, I hit a bump in the road with my writing.  I got stuck, unhappy with what I was currently working on and questioning if I was even attempting to write in the genre that I could write best.  I wrote a post on this on October 18, and that post also mentioned a book my son found for me at our library book sale:  Behind the Stories by Diane Eble, which I have since finished reading.

That book got me to thinking about what my real desire for my writing is, and that is, to write stories that will be pleasing to my heavenly father, and that will encourage my readers.  Many of the writers in that book also mentioned praying about each and every piece of writing they write, before and during the writing process.  They also mentioned studying writing, which I had done a long time ago, quite extensively, but hadn’t done recently.

So, where am I at in my writing journey now?  Well, as I said, I finished reading Behind the Stories.  After that I read a Christian fiction book based on the book of Job, The Faithful One, and during this whole process, I began to ask God to guide my writing; to give me an idea and help me to create a story from the idea.  I was beginning to get a little concerned because I wasn’t getting any ideas.

But I decided to keep working on my writing journey by studying writing and to continue to pray and wait.  Well, I am currently reading another ebook I downloaded for Free because of a Bookbub notification, (which, by the way, I no longer check daily and am much more careful about what I download), Short Story:  From First Draft to Final Product by Michael Milton (now $2.99), and the past few days I have been contemplating the story I had begun a couple of months ago with the intention of making it my first novel, so I believe that I will be continuing to work on this project, but I also had two brand new ideas early this morning, which I quickly wrote down.

I believe that God stopped my writing because I was reading the wrong things and they were affecting my thoughts and emotions, and when I began seeking His guidance and studying the craft to refresh my skills, He gave my writing back.  God is faithful as we are faithful and I am excited that I now have some ideas to work with and feel more confident about my writing again, and I believe I am starting to figure out what genre I write best.