Bell: Sharp Characters Spirit Dialogue

James Scott Bell: How to Write Dazzling DialogueBell: Sharp Characters Spirit Dialogue

James Scott Bell.[1] 2014. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript. Woodland Hills, CA: Compendium Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

What dazzles editors? Journeying from nonfiction to fiction writing, I have had to learn new things. Where nonfiction authors write articles, reviews, and reflections, fiction authors focus on writing scenes. While nonfiction authors focus on analysis and description fiction authors focus on plot, character, and dialogue. When I stumbled across James Scott Bell’s How To Write Dazzling Dialogue, I knew that I had to learn how to dazzle.

Introduction

Bell starts by comparing three manuscripts. The first begins with description. The second begins with descriptive dialog. The third begins with dialog between two people in conflict. Which has the most rapid pace? Which is most likely to get noticed by an agent? Bell describes the third manuscript as “crisp and tense”. It is taken from Michael Connelly’s The Last Coyote (9).

Dialogue Defined

Bell defines dialogue citing John Howard Lawson’s Theory and Technique of Playwriting who described dialogue as “compression and extension of action.” He goes on to say that: “Every word, every phrase that comes out of a character’s mouth is uttered because the character hopes it will further a purpose.” In other words, every character has an agenda. (12) Thus, dazzling dialogue arises from the intersection of two characters’ agendas in opposition. (13)

 Five Functions of Dialogue

The role of compression is important. Bell writes: “Dialogue is not real-life speech. It is stylized speech for which the author, through the characters, has a purpose.” (16) Focusing on the character’s agenda, the dialogue must cut to the chase and reveal underlying conflict, even if in good natured banter. (17) Bell sees five functions of dialogue:

  1. Reveal story information
  2. Reveal character
  3. Set the tone
  4. Set the scene
  5. Reveal theme (22).

In weaving a story, Bell advises the author to act first, explain later and to hide story information (exposition) within confrontation to avoid appearing too preachy. (25) How people talk reveals their character in terms of education, social position, regional background, and peer groups (35-36). Tone is revealed in how characters talk to each other (36). The scene is described through how characters react to it and to each other (37). Theme can be revealed without being preachy by embedding it in the dialogue. (38)

Practicing Dialogue

Bell suggests that the best way to learn to write dialogue is to practice acting out or writing out different roles with a voice journal. He writes:

“How do I know what a character’s voice sounds like? I prompt them with questions and then let them talk. I do this fast, without thinking about it much. What I’m waiting for is the moment when the character starts talking to me in a voice I did not plan.” (40-41)

He advises writers to take time in writing these journals out and reading them out loud (41-42). Another way to practice dialogue is to convert movie scripts into scenes in narrative form. (42). His example is taken from Cool Hand Luke, a film starring Paul Newman (1967), one of my favorite movies.[2] Bell also suggests trying improvisation. (45)

Increasing Tension

Dialogue can also benefit from new agendas, arguments, barriers, and addition of fear. (61) Bell recommends that characters who simply act out who they are in dialogue makes for natural conflict that simply flows out of their personalities.

The classic film that Bell returns to over and over is Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (28-30). In the film, Humphrey Bogart plays a closed mouth private detective, Sam Spade, who interacts with talkative socialites, manipulative millionaires, and sleazy women who have trouble telling the truth. Conflicting agendas break out everywhere because the characters differ deeply from one another. This is what Bell refers to as orchestration because well-formed characters ooze conflict. (62)

Arguments can be playful or serious. Barriers can be cultural—think of someone that thinks so differently from you that communication is difficult—or situational. Have you ever had a job interview where the interviewer was constantly interrupted with phone calls or an assistant breaking in? Sometimes barriers to communication can be downright funny or simply discouraging.

Assessment

James Scott Bell’s How to Write Dazzling Dialogue is a fascinating read for authors needing tips on how to improve dialogue and follow convention in writing it. Bell writes thrillers, teaches writing, and works as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. His advice on dialogue runs deep.

Footnotes

[1] www.JamesScottBell.com. @JamesScottBell

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool_Hand_Luke.

References

Connelly, Michael. 2003. The Last Coyote. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Lawson, John Howard. 1936. Theory and Technique of Playwriting. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

 

Also see:

Bell: How to Plot a Good Novel 

Karr Voices Memoir Clearly 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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A Risk Manager’s Prayer

Doldrums, Sand Dune in Ocean City, MarylandA Risk Manager’s Prayer

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

Forgive me for leaning on insurance policies rather than my faith in you.

Forgive me for building barns while children go to bed hungry (Luke 12:18).

Forgive me for a hard heart taking my cues from Pharoah when Jesus has shown us a better way (Matt 6:26).

As the hymnist [1] writes:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Oh Lord, shape me in your image again in spite of my ignorance, my selfishness, my greed, and my self-pity.

Turn my heart to you, that I might live a better way through the power of your Holy Spirit.

And in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_Thou_My_Vision.

 

Also see:

Prayer for Healing, Comfort, and Deliverance 

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

 

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Appearance: Looking the Part

Cover for Called Along the Way
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD
without wavering. (Ps 26:1)

Appearance: Looking the Part

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Seminary students must grow academically and relationally which requires transitions in both the student and the community. Pastors work for their congregations as well as lead them in a covenant relationship, where one cares for the other. This relationship can, however, get complicated.

When I entered seminary, I worked as clerk of session at CPC and worked closely with the pastor on church business. Because the pastor often serves as a mentor to inquirers and candidates of ministry and session oversees both, my roles conflicted. This conflict proved stressful and within a few months I resigned from the clerk’s role and from session.

The role conflict between clerk of session and pastor in training symbolized a larger conflict in identity. As clerk, my background as economist underscored my technical competence in managing the business affairs of the church. As pastor in training, technical competence can get in the way of relational competence when people become intimidated by one’s technical competence and step back relationally. This dilemma posed a question—how do I get people to reboot their image of me, from economist to pastor?

Call Sermon

In the summer of 2009, CPC invited five former members who had been called into ordained pastoral ministry back to the church to preach a sermon series on God’s call; as a seminary student, the pastor also invited me to preach on August 23. In view of my struggle with pastoral identity, I enlisted the assistance of a couple of friends to introduce the sermon with a little skit designed to kill off the “Dr. Hiemstra” persona at CPC:

Heckler 1: Is this going to be one of those boring sermons that you just read?
SWH: This? [Holding up script]
Heckler 1: Put it right in here [Holding up a trash can].
SWH: [Ripping up script and depositing in can].
Heckler 1: [Walking off a few steps…]
SWH: [Smiling and pulling out a backup script]
Heckler 1: Oh no you don’t….[Returning with the trash can]
SWH: [Ripping up second script]
[Standing there holding jacket lapels and staring…]
Heckler 2: Do you think you can be a pastor by dressing the part?
SWH: [Pointing to self]
Heckler 2: You don’t need a suit coat—what you need is a call from God.
Here take this. [Tossing a CPC tee shirt]
SWH: [Taking off jacket and putting on the tee shirt]

Someone warned me that ministry is a team sport at CPC!

After a prayer, I preached on the story of Stephen in Acts chapter seven, which was my first sermon without notes.

After the sermon, my mother asked for my CPC t-shirt and I gave it to her. The sermon itself softened my pastoral image and after eight years friends and family still remind me of it.

 

Also see:  Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Marion Roach Smith Writes Memoir

Marion Roach Smith, The Memoir ProjectMarion Roach Smith Writes Memoir

Marion Roach Smith. 2011. The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing and Life. New York: Grand Central Publishing.

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Hiemstra’s rule: once a project is complete, the best cites appear. Sometimes this rule follows from slow snail-mail delivery; other times it follows from inefficient networking; may be new eyes of expertise reveal a diamond in the rough. It is frustrating to find a resource that could have reduced the number of prior drafts by a factor of two. Such is my experience with Marion Roach Smith’s The Memoir Project.

Three Guidelines

Smith offers three basic guidelines for writing a memoir:

  1. Writing memoir is about telling the truth.
  2. Every page must one single story forward.
  3. Just because something happens, doesn’t make it interesting (14-24).

While I have described memoir as an autobiography with a theme, Smith is addressing writers who publish for people that they do not personally know. This marketing imperative burdens every paragraph in the memoir to move the theme forward as in a novel. This is unlike an autobiography that could be written more like nonfiction. The pacing and intensity are different.

Telling the Truth

The nature of truth, accordingly to Smith, starts with writing what you know (14). Actually writing what you know is Smith’s mantra and part of the title of a prior edition of this book. She cites Emily Dickinson’s poem 1129: “Tell All the Truth but tell it slant.” For Smith, slant means writing in your own, consistent voice; your take on the world (15).

In a postmodern context, telling the truth can be a challenge because philosophically postmoderns have trouble with the idea of objectivity—one truth that we can all agree on. This might sound liberating but for the writer in means being careful to describe not only the physical context for your life but also the social and economic context. Your slant will not only define your authentic voice, but also the prospective audience that will be willing to listen to it.

In my memoir, I write to my family in my own voice. Knowing that others will be eavesdropping, however, I have hired a first-class editor and pay careful attention to her advice.

Moving the Story Forward

Smith interprets theme in terms of case studies. She suggests identifying your theme (what’s this story about) and thinking of your story as an illustration of this theme. This change in focus is helpful because your life is no longer the story; it is the illustration, a case study of the theme. This lifts a burden from the author because, as an illustration, exact details are less important than advancing the theme (23).

At a minimum, this attitudinal shift towards theme and away from autobiography simplifies both the creation of a reasonable outline and the editing of the drafts that follow.

Everything that Happens Isn’t Interesting

Smith writes:

“thinking of memoir as laying out only a few cards from an entire deck, one at a time, each card moving forward the one story that you choose to tell.” (32)

Obviously, what is interesting in a memoir are the events in your life that are consistent with and advance the theme of your book. As someone with a terrible memory and lacking the gift of gab, this guideline seems unduly burdensome. Smith finds solace in focusing on telling big stories with little details.

Dog People

Smith offers some fascinating details about how attitudes about dogs have changed in recent years. Back in the day, dogs used to mind the territories of their owners, often posted in the backyard to keep strangers from jumping. Trips to the vet were rare and pet food consisted primarily of leftovers from dinner. No longer. Today, dogs are treated as members of the family with their own healthcare plans, toys, and exclusive treats. Socially, dogs provide a focus of neighborly interaction and, if you are single, a reasonable alternative to online dating.

In this vein, Smith recounts the story of the death of a neighbor’s dog and how that played out for neighborhood sisters (39). The little details of this encounter offer insights more interesting than a description of the big story of lonely people living in isolation. Her slant on the big story is to notice and write down the defining characteristics of this encounter (a woman wearing her husband’s swim trunks) and a trip with a dead dog to the doggie hospital (40). While a dead dog looks to me like garden fertilizer, Smith’s story provides more insight into today’s culture.

Marion Roach Smith

Marion Roach Smith is a graduate of Saint Lawrence University[1] in Canton, New York and worked for the New York Times. Her books include: The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair, (Bloomsbury, 2005), Another Name for Madness, (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) and others. She has written for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, The New York Times Magazine, Prevention, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, and The Los Angeles Times.[2]

Marion Roach Smith’s The Memoir Project is a fascinating and helpful book of interest to authors who take memoir seriously.

[1] www.stlawu.edu.

[2] http://marionroach.com. @MRoachSmith.

Also see:

The Christian Memoir 

Karr Voices Memoir Clearly 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Giving Thanks

Photograph of Clouds by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Giving Thanks

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

We praise you for your compassionate presence, your redeeming love, and your boundless blessings.

For we are often absent when we are needed, unloving in our relationships, and grasping when we should be generous.

Forgive our sin; overlook our iniquities; redeems us from our own trespasses.

Thank you for hearing our confession, forgiving our wrongs, and healing our wounds.

In the power of your Holy Spirit,

save us from ourselves; teach us to order our lives on your word; restore our sense of right and wrong,

that we might survive the storms of this life.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Also see:

Prayer for Healing, Comfort, and Deliverance 

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Christian Spirituality

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality
For more information, see: T2Pneuma.com

Christian Spirituality

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Spirituality is lived belief. When we pray, worship, or reach out to our neighbors, we live out our beliefs. Our beliefs structure our spirituality like skin stretched over the bones of our bodies. These beliefs start with faith in God the Father through Jesus Christ as revealed through the Holy Spirit in scripture, the church, and daily life. Our theology orders our beliefs. Without a coherent theology, we lose our identity in space and time having no map or compass to guide us on our way. In the end, we focus on ourselves, not God.

Spiritual Foundation

Christian spirituality accordingly starts with God, not with us. Like the woman Jesus cured of a spinal disfiguration, our only response can be to glorify God with songs of praise (Luke 13:13). We experience lasting Christian joy, not with recognizing Christ as savior, but with recognizing Christ as Lord. Spiritual disciplines and experiences are part of this spirituality, but they are not necessarily the focus (1 Cor 13:8).

This focus on what God has done begins in verse one of Genesis where God is pictured creating the heavens and the earth. What exactly have we done to deserve being created? Nothing. In fact, our first independent act was to sin. What exactly have we done to warrant forgiveness? Nothing. Christ died for our sins. The only meaningful response to these gifts of creation and salvation is praise.

Early Church

The early church interpreted and summarized God’s revelations in the biblical text and early creeds. It later developed the catechisms to summarize key church doctrines. The Heidelberg Catechism, Luther’s catechism, and the Catholic catechism focus on three key statements of faith: the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments (Chan 2006, 108). Not surprisingly, Sunday morning worship has for centuries focused on these three faith statements, often being memorized and put to music. The Heidelberg Catechism, for example, encourages a focus on worship and is itself divided into 52 sermon topics for weekly use.

The key spiritual discipline in the Christian faith naturally is Sunday morning worship. The worship service includes prayer, readings from scripture, the spoken word, the sacraments, music, statements of faith, and other expressions of faithful worship. In worship, music binds our hearts and minds.

Spiritual Practices

This worship experience is strengthened daily through personal devotions as well as devotions with our spouses, families, and other small groups. The original small group is the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—our template for healthy community. And when we take our spirituality into the work world, it too becomes an opportunity for worship.

Hear the words; walk the steps; experience the joy!

Reference

Chan, Simon. 2006. Liturgical Theology: The Church as a Worshiping Community. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Thielicke, Helmut. 1962. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

 

Also see:  Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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La Espiritualidad Cristiana

Cubierta por Una Guia Cristian a la Espiritualidad
Para más información, vea: T2Pneuma.com

La Espiritualidad Cristiana

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

La espiritualidad es la creencia vivida. Cuando oramos, adoramos, o ayudamos a nuestros prójimos, vivimos lo que creemos. Nuestras creencias estructuran nuestra espiritualidad como la piel estirada sobre los huesos de nuestros cuerpos. Estas creencias empiezan con fe en Dios el Padre por medio de Jesucristo, tal como es revelado a través del Espíritu Santo en la Biblia, la iglesia y la vida diaria. Nuestra teología ordena nuestra creencia. Sin una teología coherente, perdemos nuestra identidad en el espacio y el tiempo sin tener un mapa ni una brújula que nos guié en nuestro camino. Al final, nos enfocamos en nosotros mismos, no en Dios.

La Espiritualidad Cimientas

Por esta razón la espiritualidad cristiana comienza con Dios, no con nosotros. Así como la mujer que Jesús curó de una deformación de la espina, nuestra única respuesta puede ser el glorificar a Dios con cantos de alabanza (Lc. 13:13). Esta es la razón por la cual se vive el gozo cristiano duradero, no es reconociendo a Cristo como salvador, sino reconociendo a Cristo como Señor. Las disciplinas y experiencias espirituales son parte de esta espiritualidad, pero no son necesariamente el enfoque principal (1 Cor. 13:8).

Este enfoque en lo que ha hecho Dios comienza en el versículo uno de Génesis donde Dios se presenta creando el cielo y la tierra. ¿Qué hemos hecho nosotros exactamente para merecer ser creados? Nada. De hecho, nuestro primer acto de independiencia fue el pecar. ¿Qué hemos hecho exactamente para merecer el perdón? Nada. Cristo murió por nuestros pecados. La única respuesta significativa a estos dones de creación y salvación es la alabanza.

La Iglesia Primativa

La iglesia primitiva interpretó y resumió las revelaciones de Dios en el texto bíblico y los credos. Los catecismos se desarrollaron más tarde para resumir las doctrinas claves de la iglesia. El Catecismo de Heidelberg, el Catecismo de Lutero, y el Catecismo Católico se enfocan en tres declaraciones claves de la fe: el Credo de los Apóstoles, el Padre Nuestro, y los Diez Mandamientos (Chan, 2006, 108). No nos debe sorprender que, por siglos, el culto de domingo se ha enfocado en estas tres declaraciones de fe y que fueron memorizadas y puestas en canción. El Catecismo de Heidelberg, por ejemplo, estimula un enfoque a la adoración y se divide en 52 temas para sermones para uso semanal.

La disciplina espiritual principal en la fe cristiana es naturalmente el culto de domingo por la mañana. El servicio de adoración incluye la oración, lectura de las escrituras, la palabra hablada, los sacramentos, y la música. Inclusio también son las declaraciones de fe y las otras expresiones de fiel adoración. En la adoración, la música conecta nuestros corazones y nuestras mentes.

La Disciplinas Espirituales

Esta experiencia de la adoración se fortalece diariamente a través de los devocionales personales, así como los devocionales con nuestras parejas, familias, y otros grupos pequeños. El grupo pequeño original es la Trinidad —el Padre, el Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo— nuestro modelo para una comunidad saludable. Y cuando llevamos nuestra espiritualidad al mundo secular, también se convierte en una oportunidad para adorar.

Mi oración es que este libro aliente a los lectores a entender la espiritualidad cristiana un poco mejor y, a la misma vez, nutra su caminar con el Señor. No existe tal cosa como calidad de tiempo con el Señor; sólo hay tiempo. El Dios Vivo nos habla de muchas maneras, pero especialmente a través de las escrituras y, después de haber iniciado un diálogo, espera nuestra respuesta (Thielicke 1962, 34).

Referencias

Chan, Simon. 2006. Liturgical Theology: The Church as a Worshiping Community. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Thielicke, Helmut. 1962. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

 

Otras Cosas:  Looking Back 

Otros lugares para participar en línea:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

 

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Brooks Structures Story, Part 2

Larry Brooks, Story EngineeringBrooks Structures Story, Part 2

Larry Brooks. 2011. Story Engineer: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books. (Goto Part 1)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

In his book, Story Engineer, Larry Brooks focuses on six core competencies which must be mastered to become a professional writer. Those competencies are concept, character, theme, scene execution, writing voice, and structure (23). In part one of this review, I gave an overview of the book and discussed the first five of these competencies. Here in part two, I will concentrate the last of these competencies, story structure, where Brooks focuses the most attention and reinforces with helpful exploration of milestones, how to work with an outline, and other details.

Introduction

In Brooks’ thinking:

“Story structure is the sequence of your scenes that result in a story well told. Story architecture is the empowerment of those scenes through compelling characterizations, powerful thematic intentions, a fresh and intriguing conceptual engine, and a writing voice that brings it all to life with personality and energy.” (138)

He divides his stories into four parts separated by milestones that drive the plot.

Four-Part Story

Brooks writes:

“The mission of Part 1 is to set up the plot by creating stakes, backstory, and character empathy, while perhaps foreshadowing the forthcoming conflict. Basically, it’s to introduce the hero and show us what he has going on in his life…not for the remainder of the story, but before the arrival of the main antagonistic force (the primary conflict of the story) at the First Plot Point.” (147)

Milestones Separate the Parts

He sees part one as 20-25 being percent of the story and it ends abruptly with the First Plot Point. Part 1 Begins in Peace Ends with Conflict. Part 2 begins with a non-heroic response to this conflict (151). After the midpoint of the story, part 3 shows our hero going on the attack, but ineffectively (155). After information provided in the Second Plot Point, part 4 begins with our hero becoming equipped and emerging as a real hero (156). Brooks summarizes these transitions as the hero starting out an orphan, becoming a wanderer, growing into a warrior, and emerging as a martyr (157).

Brooks writes:

“Milestones are points in your story where new information enters the narrative and changes the direction, tension, and stakes. These milestones appear in the same approximate place, separating the four parts of the story.” (158)

He sees about eighty percent of your story focusing on these milestones, which makes understanding them critical to the structure of the story (159).

Milestones Defined

Brooks cites these milestones: opening scene, hooking moment, inciting incident, First Plot Point, First Pinch Point, Midpoint, Second Pinch Point, Second Plot Point, and resolution scene. He observes:

“If you allow three (or more) additional scenes that setup and surround these milestone moments, that’s at least thirty to forty scenes. Or about two-thirds of your entire story.” (160)

Given the importance of these milestones, virtually everything else in the story focuses on connecting to the next milestone, which makes understanding the story structure important in planning and executing your writing (161). Brooks makes this point repeatedly in his book, distinguishing writers who plan from organic writers who profess not to. Convincing writers to plan their stories is an important theme in this book.

First Plot Point

The First Plot Point introduces conflict into the story. Often the external conflict cannot be resolved until the hero’s inner conflict is dealt with. This is one reason the hero’s response in part 2 remains lame and incomplete. This inner conflict provides a starting point for the character arc of the story where the hero grows into someone much stronger than we see introduced in part 1 (93).

Pinch Point

A Pinch Point is a reminder of the nature and implications of an antagonistic force, unfiltered by the hero’s experience (200), which basically suggests that the hero is not making it all up. In some stories, the mental state of the hero may be questioned, because the response may seem disproportionate to observes not familiar with First Plot Point. The Pinch Point makes it clear either to the reader or the hero that the conflict is real.

Midpoint

The Midpoint comes at halfway through the story and occurs when the hero gains important information about the conflict that is being faced. The information is important enough that the hero ceases to be a wanderer and transitions to becoming a warrior.

Second Plot Point

At the Second Plot comes about three-quarters of the way through the story when the hero gains information critical to advancing on the attack. After this point, the hero is heroic and needs no more new insights, advancing from warrior to martyr, if necessary. The story advances into part 4 where the conflict is ultimately resolved (204-205).

Resolution Scene

In the resolution scene, Brooks writes:

[For part 4] “There is no blueprint for it…[and only one rule] no new expositional information may enter the story after the Second Plot Point that commences with it. If something appears in the final act, it must have been foreshadowed, referenced, or already in play. This includes characters—no newcomers allowed.” (210)

In part 4, our hero exhibits his personal growth and vanquishes his inner demons enough to resolve the basic story conflict (211).

Assessment

Larry Brooks’ Story Engineer is an award-winning book on writing craft that draws on writing both novels and screen plays. Brooks reads easily and he uses examples from numerous well-known books and films. The target audience is authors serious about improving their craft.

 

Also see:

Warren Writes to Grow Characters 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Prayer for Healing from Sin

Dried, Yellow Roses, Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Dried, Yellow Roses, Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Prayer for Healing from Sin

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Oh Lord Almighty:

Teach us to humble ourselves, to live into your call, to be your people in thought, word, and deed.

Teach us to pray aright,

to seek your face, and

to turn from all wickedness, but especially the wickedness of racism.

Hear our prayer, oh Lord.

Be not far away, but especially near when our hearts are weary.

Let not our youth or our old age be an excuse.

Forgive our sin in Jesus name.

And in the power of your Holy Spirit, heal our land. Amen

2 Chr. 7:14

 

Also see:

Prayer for Healing, Comfort, and Deliverance 

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Diane Sue

Cover for Called Along the Way
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Diane Sue

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

As the oldest child in the family and the oldest cousin among grandchildren, I grew up surrounded by adults, who gave me a lot of attention at a time when children were to be seen and not heard. Because my father attended graduate school until I entered the first grade and we frequently moved around, it remained hard to make friends my own age. In this 1950s environment, my sister, Diane Sue, was my closest friend.

Our Childhood

Diane and I played hide and seek, learned to eat ice cream from cones, and celebrated each other’s birthdays together. I will never forget Diane’s expression on viewing a pink rabbit cake that my mother baked for her second birthday. Still, close relationships between boys and girls at that time was a bit countercultural, at least in the world we lived in.

Boys and Girls

Diane and I were both baptized in Central Reformed Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa where my dad grew up and my parents were married. During Sunday school classes, boys sat on one side of the room and girls sat on the other, which I remember because in visiting one Sunday I made the mistake of sitting on the girls’ side before most people had come in. As the kids filed in, the girls thought it was funny and the boys ridiculed me. I never repeated that mistake.

Farm Not Interesting

Although I always asked to visit the farm during summer vacations and spent most summers until high school there, Diane showed little interest. Perhaps, she did not enjoy going to livestock auctions, gardening, and learning to knit. It’s hard to say because we were never nosey about each other’s business.

School Years

During the school year when we got older, Diane and I took piano lessons together. We also sometimes watched television or played board games together at home and attended youth events and choir together at church. Still, Diane preferred doing girl things, like playing with dolls, while I did boy things, like collecting coins, stamps, and bugs, and playing with the neighbor kids. I became a Cub Scout; she joined the Brownies.

Unspoken Closeness

Boys and girls played differently, maintained a different circle of friends, and this was normal, accepted behavior. This pattern was pronounced. In elementary school the boys had to be forced to dance with girls in gym class. So Diane and I drifted apart after I was about eight years old, although we always maintained an unspoken but close relationship.

 

Also see:  Looking Back 

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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