Skip to main content

Carnival of Christian Writers – the Hook

Captain's Log, Stardate 10.27.2006

Blog book giveaway:
To enter, go to the blog links below and post a comment there.
My Monday book giveaway is The Guy I’m Not Dating by Trish Perry.
My Monday book giveaway is Reluctant Burglar by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.
My Thursday book giveaway is In Every Flower by Patti Hill.
You can still enter both giveaways.

Win an iPod Nano! Exclusively for my newsletter YahooGroup subscribers, I have a huge contest running until January 31st! Get more info on my contest page!
Click here to join Camys_Loft
Click to join Camys_Loft

Been there, read that. Today, I'm participating in the Carnival of Christian Writers put on by Writer...Interrupted.

I want to talk about something I've been noticing with the entries I've judged in contests and the critiques I've been doing for the several mentor groups I'm in.

Many writers are good writers. They have good prose, solid dialogue, strong verbs and nouns, interesting adjectives, judicious use of adverbs.

But their story or characters don't stand out.

I've seen this stereotype of heroine in a book I just read. Or this plotline is very cliché and overdone. Or these minor characters are cardboard and unoriginal.

As writers aiming for publication in mainstream, popular fiction, it's no longer enough if our writing is tighter than a lady's corset. We need to make sure our story ideas are fresh, original, and unique.

Granted, there are only 36 Dramatic Situations if you've read Polti (or 55 if you've read Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt), and as Solomon puts it, there's nothing new under the sun.

However, you can write something that you haven't seen lately in print, something interesting and intriguing and unusual. Turn something on its head, surprise your reader, make an editor read your hook and raise his/her eyebrows in curiosity.

Maybe your character can have an unusual vocation. Maybe it's set in a very unique place. Contrast opposite characters or situations. Take things to extremes.

How do you make sure it's something editors haven't seen yet? Read.

You writers are laughing at me. Writers barely have time to keep up with Writers Digest, let alone all the books being printed at this moment.

But you should make it a priority to read in the line, imprint, or publisher you're targeting.

Say you're targeting Steeple Hill's Love Inspired imprint. If you don't keep up with the books they're putting out, you don't know that the last 6 months have had three books with preacher heroes. Or four FBI-agent heroes. Or six teacher heroines. (Not that this is true, but just as an example.)

And then your story about the FBI-agent-turned-preacher who falls for the local special-ed teacher isn't so unique, is it?

Read the bestsellers to try to understand why they're so popular. Spend some time on Amazon looking at the books being put out and reading the back cover blurb or the first few pages using Amazon's Search Inside feature.

Know the market. See what's gotten rave reviews and what hasn't. Then you'll know if your storyline is too out-there, or if it's unusual but still fits into the market.

Make your storyline and characters really pop out at an editor. Make your story so crazy that the editor has to turn the page to see how you pulled it off.

But most of all, pray. Every storyline you come up with, give it right back to God. Because only He knows if that's the story He wants you to write. Only He knows if that's the story He can use to reach people for His purposes and His glory. After all, it's not about us (much as we'd like it to be! LOL).

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance:

The Election by Jerome Teel

Read an excerpt here (.pdf) and check out this great review on the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance blog.


Bible in 90 Days: Day 4. Did Leah know God loved her? Did she respond to Him? Even with her sixth son, she was still focused on her husband’s view of her.

I was talking to MaryLu Tyndall, and we’ve both been convicted about seeking God first no matter what happens with our writing careers. I don’t want to focus on the people around me. I want to keep focus on God.

Writing: I also posted another short article on novel proposals on my Story Sensei blog.


  1. Or one of my fav things to do...when the story begins to get cliched, kill off a main character, so you have to go back and pull someone else as the main. Okay, I'll admit it, I just like killing off the characters! LOL

  2. Very cool post! Thanks, Camy. I've not written a novel yet....but might give birth one day...hehe...

  3. Wow. I've been trying to do just this! You should see my to be read pile!

  4. Great post! I have to say, I always think I'm being original, then BAM...there it is, my idea already in print. OK, maybe not that extreme, but it's happened. And thankfully my TBR pile has been replenished. It's my addiction.

  5. I've always wanted to write, and I read lots. I review books for Active Christian Media, so I see lots of different authors. I just reviewed "Before I Wake" by Dee Henderson, and it was of the most intriguing fiction novels I have ever read. The author knew how to hook you from page one, and keep you guessing throughout the novel!

  6. Good stuff and you're right! I hardly have time to read with all the "interrupted" stuff I do, but I try!

    I haven't put much thought into the uniqueness of my characters and their vocations, but then again, I haven't read any books lately where an archeologist is the heroine. If you come across one, would you please let me know! :)

    Thanks for joinng the carnival!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

I joined Sweet Romance Reads!

I just joined Sweet Romance Reads, a group of authors who all write sweet romances in a variety of sub-genres. I’m friends with several of the authors from my days writing for Harlequin/Love Inspired, so it’s nice to be able to join their group. If you’re on Facebook, this is their Facebook page , and this is their Facebook group . I posted my introductory post yesterday on the Sweet Romance Reads blog (Blogger), where I listed three strange things about me. Click here to read the post, and tell me three strange things about you!


「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** ********** 父に白い封筒を渡される前から、レックスの心臓は張り裂けていた——冷たい日本海で真っ二つに分かれる氷河のように、耳をつんざくような鋭い音がする。 (あなたを、ワサマタユ・スポーツクラブの男女混合および女子バレーボールチームに受け入れます……) その手紙にきちんと折り目をつけて、封筒の中に戻した。そして、膝を上げて横になっているソファの隣に置かれた、コーヒーテーブルに手紙を落とした。 彼女の入部を伝えるために、その日の午前中、ダレンから電話があった。 「ダレ