The Audience of One

Writer, for whom are you writing? The answer to that question will determine the content of your writing, the purpose of your writing, and the destiny of your writing.

As believers, our paradigm of purpose centers totally and only on Jesus Christ. We write for Him, about Him, in Him, and through Him. Every word that flows through our fingers–whether via the pen or the keyboard–must exalt Him and Him alone. He is the Beginning, the End, and Everything in between.

Too often we are tempted to write for our own glory, but His way and His will are that we write for His glory. He alone is worthy of all glory, all honor, and all praise.  For out of Him comes our writing gift, and to Him that gift must be consecrated. Without Him, we have no writing gift.  With Him, our writing gift is sanctified and given meaning and influence.

So be filled with joy at the great privilege that is ours. The privilege of writing for King Jesus and for His Kingdom.

When all is said and done, we write for an Audience of One.

Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved.

My Favorite Books on Fiction Writing

Every fiction author has her list of favorite books on the craft of writing fiction. Periodically, authors ask me for book recommendations, and I am always happy to offer some of my favorites. While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, it does represent a cross-section of my fiction-writing library.

The books listed are those I have found to be most helpful in learning how to write compelling fiction. I am supplying links to each book in case you wish to purchase one or more of them.  I want you to know upfront that these links are my affiliate links to, and I earn a percentage of all sales made through them.

If you know of other good books that are not already on my list, please let me know. I welcome your recommendations.   Thanks!

Story by Robert McKee

Book Proposals That Sell by W. Terry Whalin

Christian Writers Market Guide 2014

Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambucchino

The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills

Fiction Writing Demystified by Thomas Sawyer

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins

Goal, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon

On Teaching and Writing Fiction by Wallace Stegner

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

Power Elements of Story Structure by Rebecca LuElla Miller

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

–Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and David King

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Story Physics by Larry Brooks

Structuring Your Novel by K. Weiland

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain

The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke

The Moral Premise by Dr. Stan Williams

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass 

Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA.  All Rights Reserved.


Five Ways How NOT to Write a Novel

Much has been written on how to write a novel. Today, I’d like to address a few ways on how NOT to write a novel.

1) Do NOT wait for inspiration. If you do, you may never write a novel. Inspiration comes from discipline, determination, and dedication. When you apply the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair, inspiration will eventually come. At those times when I do not feel particularly inspired, I start my writing day by typing something like, “I have no clue what to write but I will keep on writing until I do have a clue.” I keep typing in this rather nonsensical fashion until an idea pops into my head that puts me in what I call “the flow zone”.  Once there, I sometimes find that good ideas flow so quickly that I cannot stop writing.

2)  Do NOT chase market trends.  The trend you chase today may end up being the trend of the past by the time your book is published–if, indeed, it is ever published. Instead, write the book of your heart.  Better yet, write the book of God’s heart. If you are connected to God, His heart will be your heart.

 3) Do NOT imitate other authors. Yes, be inspired by them, motivated by them, encouraged by them. But do NOT attempt to be a clone of them. You are a unique author with unique experiences and a unique way of expressing those experiences on paper. Write out of who YOU are. 

4) Do NOT circumvent the necessary learning curve for writing a novel. If you try to cut corners, your writing will show it. Instead, take the time to become excellent at your craft.

5) Do NOT give up. Thomas Edison said “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine-percent perspiration.” Writing a novel involves a lot of sweat equity. While talent is important, perseverance is even more so. If you put your mind to it and your heart in it, you can write a story that will touch and transform lives.

Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All rights reserved.

(Craft) How Important Is Setting to Your Story?

Setting is to story what a foundation is to a house. I love what author Nina Munteanu wrote about setting: “Setting grounds your writing in the reality of place and depicts the theme of your story through powerful metaphor.”  Just as the foundation grounds a house “in the reality of place,” so does setting ground your story in its own “reality of place.”

Setting is intimately connected with every aspect of your story: with characterization, with plot, and even with theme.  For example, my forthcoming novel, A Sicilian Conspiracy, is set in 19th-century Sicily during a time when the society was patriarchal and riddled with codes of honor detrimental to women. In my story, setting plays a key role not only in my protagonist’s character arc, but also in the outcome of the plot.

What exactly is setting? According to Munteanu, “Setting includes time, place and circumstance. These three form a kind of critical mass that creates the particular setting best suited to your story. If you change any of these it will affect the quality of the others.” In A Sicilian Conspiracy, the time period is Sicily in 1892. The place is a tiny village near the southwestern coast of Sicily. The circumstance centers on a young woman raped and pregnant by her parish priest.  If I were to change any one of these three elements–time, place, or circumstance–the change would affect the entire story.

As you plan your story, think carefully about its setting, especially if you are writing science fiction or fantasy in which you must create a previously non-existent story world.  Then consider the impact of your setting on your characters, your plot, and your theme. Considering your setting with its ramifications will help you to create a more richly layered story, one that your readers will not forget.

Source cited: “Importance of Setting in a Novel” by Nina Munteanu.


Using Metaphor in Your Story

The word “metaphor” comes from two Greek words – meta (over, across) and pherein (to carry or bear) — and literally means “to carry over” or “to transfer”. Dr. Daniel McInerny describes metaphor as the desire to illuminate the perception of one thing by juxtaposing it to some other.” (1)

When we use metaphor, we convey the meaning of one thing by using the meaning of another thing. For example, Shakespeare wrote in Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” In this sentence, the great Bard of Avon compares his beloved to a summer day–a day of beauty and warmth.

Aristotle considered metaphor the greatest of all literary devices, perhaps because the use of metaphor requires the ability to discover similarity in things that are intrinsically different. At the same time, the use of metaphor requires the ability to discover those differences that reduce a thing to its essence.

Metaphor is a very effective literary device in fiction writing. Metaphor serves to create images that juxtapose differences and use one thing to illuminate another. In illuminating differences, metaphor serves to reveal the essence of the two things being compared. In a story, this type of comparison illuminates the essential nature of a character.  When, for instance, I write “The beggar sat on the sidewalk, a king holding court:”, I am juxtaposing two people highly unlikely to be found together: a beggar and a king.  Yet, the very act of comparing two totally different things creates a metaphor that brings out the essence of my beggar character.

Metaphor is a wonderful tool in the fiction writer’s arsenal. Use it well and it will add a new dimension of life to your stories.  

Sources cited:
(1) McInerny, Daniel. “How to Use Metaphor to Enrich Your Stories.”