John David Kudrick

putting words to work for you

Little Details Can Make a Big Difference

Every so often, a novelist should make it a point to remember that most readers have about 54,000 other things they could be doing instead of reading a book. A novel will only hold your reader’s attention ahead of all those other things if it’s truly worth reading.

Aside from all the various mechanics and methods of writing that can turn off a reader, one item sure to doom your novel is goofing up on so-called little details—especially when you need to include subject matter that may not be familiar to you.

To wit: Continue reading

To Cuss or Not to Cuss?

Handling Profanity as a Christian Novelist

“I’m a Christian who typically doesn’t use profanity, but that doesn’t stop me from allowing my fictional characters to cuss if they want to.”

If you’re a novelist whose first love is Jesus, then the preceding quotation may have your eyes popping wide open, perhaps with an accompanying gasp … or maybe it’s got you sighing with relief at the burden that just fell from your shoulders.

The quote is from an author I’ve worked with, and it feels a little like opening Pandora’s box to even begin to speak about this subject, but I know it’s a struggle for many Christian novelists out there. After all, as Christians, we don’t want to say or do anything that hurts our witness as a follower of Jesus Christ. At the same time, though, we want to write honest stories about engaging characters who resonate with readers—and most of the time, this means that very few of our characters are going to always sound as saintly as dear old Aunt Emma, who shouts “Fiddlesticks!” or “Sugar!” when she accidentally breaks a dish in the kitchen.

So what’s the answer to handling real-life speech in a novel if you’re a Christian?

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Another Thought on Writers Conferences

In my most recent post, I touched on why authors should attend a writers conference, focusing on two main reasons: First, it’s a great place to pitch your book to an agent or editor. And, second, it’s a place to be around other people who take writing seriously, allowing you to find new inspiration and encouragement.

In this post, I want to touch on another (multifaceted) reason why writers conferences are a great idea for authors: knowledge.

When you attend a writers conference, you have the opportunity to be empowered with knowledge from at least three sources: speakers, agents/editors, other writers.

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Thoughts on Writers Conferences

One question I encounter somewhat regularly from authors is: “Should I attend a writers conference?”

Before I actually attended a writers conference myself, I would have likely responded with questions about what the author hoped to accomplish by attending, if it would be a financial burden for them, etc. Now, having attended some conferences myself (both as an author and as faculty), I don’t even waste time with such replies, but instead just say, “Yes, go!”

So why should you spend your time, money, and energy on attending a writers conference? I can think of a number of good reasons, and perhaps I’ll blog again to cover all of them, but for now I want to focus on two.

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Hope ALWAYS Remains

Good Friday: a day that no doubt didn’t seem so “good” to those who loved Jesus and knew him best. I can only imagine the darkness and despair that descended into the depths of their hearts when the sun stopped shining as Jesus hung bloodied and beaten on the cross, then finally cried “It is finished!” and gave up his spirit.

But on this side of the cross, we know that the story didn’t end there. Even on the hardest of days, we can find hope because of the resurrection power of Christ. As one author wrote about a particularly tough time in his life:

A hard day, yes. Rattled and unglued, yes. Unable to cope, no. How does the life-giving Spirit of the risen Lord manifest Himself on days like that? In our willingness to stand fast, our refusal to run away and escape into self-destructive behavior. Resurrection power enables us to engage in the savage confrontation with untamed emotions, to accept the pain, receive it, take it on board, however acute it may be. And in the process we discover that we are not alone, that we can stand fast in the awareness of present risenness and so become fuller, deeper, richer disciples.

So even amidst the darkness and despair of Christ’s death commemorated on Crucifixion Friday, we know that Resurrection Sunday is coming—and because of that, hope ALWAYS remains.

 

Christ is risen!

jdk

 

 

Apologies …

Hey there. Just a note to announce that I’m putting my blog writing on hold for a bit, as I am going through a rough stretch with some ongoing ailments. However, I look forward to returning here in the near future. Thanks for your patience.

 

John David Kudrick

“My grace is sufficient for you….” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Keepin’ It Real with Dialogue

It will probably come as no surprise that editors enjoy the written word, which means that most of us wordsmiths not only work with words as a profession, but we also have our noses in books each day for the pure joy of reading. To wit, just the other night, I was re-reading an old trade paperback comic book (X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga) because I think it’s a great story overall, with super artwork to boot.

Anyway, at one point I came across some dialogue that is common enough in comic books because they are such a visual medium, and it reminded me of an issue that I come across all too often in my work as an editor: dialogue that doesn’t sound realistic because it’s so full of backstory and/or information dumps.

Again, in comic books I expect this to some degree because the writers have limited space with captions and word/thought balloons, but I have to admit that it still bugged me a little because it just sounded so unrealistic. When I see it in a novel I’m working on, I flag it and let the writer know that such dialogue will not ring true in a reader’s ears and will feel like a hiccup or speed bump even amidst well-written prose.

Here’s an example: Continue reading

How Do Authors Find Time to Write?

I enjoy working with authors no matter how they approach the task of writing, whether it’s with bubbly joy and passion or steely grit and determination—or, more typically, a combination of both. In any case, these authors have done something that many other wishful writers have only talked and/or daydreamed about: they finished a book, perhaps even several.

And yet most of the authors I work with or know aren’t household names in the world of books, and they’re okay with that. They’re everyday folks, and most of them have full-time jobs. Like the wishful writers who have never completed a book—usually because “I just don’t have the time!”—these authors spend time with a significant other, keep up with family and friends, raise kids, attend church, go to work, see the doctor/dentist, take their cars to the mechanic, cook meals, clean homes, exercise, take care of pets, catch some zzz’s, and the list goes on and on.

So, then, how in the world do these authors find time to write?

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Finding Your Writing Style as a Novelist: Part 2

In the first part of this post, we took a look at an author who lived and died by the plotter/planner method of crafting a novel—a method that had served him well more than once. But when we last saw this author, he’d just read a book on fiction writing that preached the polar opposite of the plotter/planner way: flying by the seat of your pants (aka, the pantser method).

So what did this author do? Did he just dismiss this blasphemous pantser drivel and stick to his guns as a plotter/planner?

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Finding Your Writing Style as a Novelist: Part 1

Are you a pantser or a plotter/planner?

If you’re a novelist and you’ve done even a little bit of reading about the craft of fiction, then you’ve likely come across the terms “pantser” and “plotter,” which is also called “planner.”

Simply put, if someone asks which kind of fiction writer you are, she or he wants to know if you:

  • fly by the seat of your pants when penning a novel and just let the story come to you day by day, or …
  • plot/plan out your entire tale ahead of time and then follow that road map step by step from the first word of the novel all the way until you type THE END.

Depending on the crowd you find yourself in at the time, you may soon be caught in the verbally violent crossfire between those entrenched in these two camps of thought.

Continue reading

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