Are You on Information Overload?

Scripture warns us that in the last days, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Dan 12:4 NKJV) . We call this the “Information Age”, and I believe that we are right smack in the middle of it. 

Just look at your e-mailbox. If it’s anything like mine, it’s inundated with hundreds of emails, many unsolicited. Moreover, everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with invitations to connect via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and a host of other social media of which there seems to be no end. 

So where do we draw the line? 

When Jesus was on earth, He ran everything by His Father. In so doing, Jesus knew exactly where to go, when to go, how long to stay, and what to say and do while He was there. He did nothing without consulting the Father first. If Jesus had to consult the Father first in order to establish priorities in alignment with the Father’s will, how much more do we need to consult the Father in everything? 

We all know we have an enemy who will try to divert us from our Lord. The enemy often does this by putting good things in our path. After all, good things don’t come across at first as dangerous. For instance, church ministry is a good thing. But it becomes a bad thing when it assumes priority over time spent in developing our relationship with our Lord. 

When helping my writing clients to establish priorities, I remind them that DOING flows out of BEING. In other words, what we do must flow out of BEING in (abiding in) Christ. We get into trouble when we put the DOING first. 

So how connected should we be? As connected as our Lord instructs us to be. No more. No less.
Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

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.”

Your Protagonist’s Inner Journey

It is a fictional truism to say that the best stories are character-driven.  Starting with this premise, let’s look at how we can make our protagonist–whether hero or heroine–one who will stand out forever in the memory of your readers. 

When creating your protagonist, it is essential that you give her an inner conflict. This inner conflict results from an issue the character has, an issue about which she may not even be aware.  But the issue is there, nonetheless, keeping your protagonist from fulfilling her destiny in your story. Unless she faces her issue and deals with it, the issue will eventually “break” her. The story is the protagonist’s process of facing her issue. This process, also known as the character arc, will force her either to deal with her issue or to miss her destiny. 

In his excellent book, The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, novelist and editor Jeff Gerke states: “If great fiction is about bringing the main character to a breaking point over a particular ‘sin,’ then all the events of the story are about bringing the character to that moment” (p. 76). 

With what “sin” is your protagonist dealing? Bring your character to an emotionally powerful breaking point over that sin, and watch your fiction move up a notch on the scale of excellence.


Source Cited:

Gerke, Jeff. The Art & Craft of Writing Christian FictionColorado Springs, CO: Marcher Lord Press, 2009. Print.

Preventing a Sagging Middle

It’s a known fact that one of the most challenging parts of writing a novel is the middle. Most of us have little trouble building momentum in the beginning of our story and then winding down at the end. But, oh, the middle!  How do we keep it from sagging?

Here are a few tips that may help you as they have helped me:

1-Up the stakes for your main character. Usually a middle sags because the tension sags. Ask yourself what new problem you can introduce for your character in the middle of your story. This new problem could be in the form of an unexpected turn of events or even a new character.

2-Introduce a “ticking clock”.  Perhaps your main character learns that she must accomplish something by a certain deadline or else something terrible will happen to her or someone she loves.

3-Introduce a complication. This could be something in your main character’s past that has been hidden up until this point.

4-Put the main character in a new location, preferably one she didn’t anticipate. Adding a new dimension to your story almost always causes reader interest to rise.  Perhaps your main character’s boss taps her to go on a business trip on the other side of the world. Depending on her occupation, perhaps she is assigned to handle a secret mission of some sort.

5-Reveal something from the main character’s past that has serious implications in her life now. This could be virtually anything. Perhaps she discovers she has a half-brother she never knew about. Or perhaps she learns that the man she thought was her father is not her father.

You can avoid a sagging middle if you plan ahead.  If your interested in more information on doing so, check out Alicia Rasley’s article, Tightening the Sagging Middle.

Copyright 2010 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved. This article may not be published or reprinted in any way or by any means without the written permission of the author. Violators will be prosecuted.


(Attitude) Regrouping

Sometimes in our writing career, we get blindsided by an unexpected event that temporarily throws us off course. It could be a family situation, a medical diagnosis, or a job loss.  Whatever the situation, we suddenly find ourselves facing a circumstance that diverts our full attention from our writing.  What can we do?

1) Stop and stay calm.  Panic gets us nowhere and stifles sound thinking.  The best way to stop and stay calm is to stay focused on Jesus. Isaiah 26:3 states: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  Focusing on Jesus arouses our trust in Him. When we are at peace, we can think straight.

2) Remember that God is ordering your steps.  Our Lord knows exactly what is happening in your life. It is of no surprise to Him.  He also knows that He will see you through as you trust in Him.  No matter what happens to us, we can know that all things work together for our good because we love God (Romans 8:38).  As you look back in the future, you will see that God has brought good out of a bad situation.

3) Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself time to grieve. If God remembers that you are flesh (Psalm 78:39), so should you.

Are you going through a difficult time right now? Do you need help regrouping? If so, please share so that we may pray for you.

Copyright 2013 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.