Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ANSWER #1 - Too Much Clutter

Over the next few weeks author Kathryn Porter going to answer many of your questions about clutter. The first question comes from a North Jersey Christian Writers Group member, Barbara.

Barbara is also the first winner of Kathryn's book


How do I organize my ideas for writing/speaking? I get great ideas, write them "someplace" & "everyplace". Even if I put them in the same place how can I find what I want? Should I file them by topic? Alphabetical? By Audience? Can it be cross referenced?

The thing to remember is that there is no one-size fits all when it comes to organizing. File them under a system that makes sense for you.

When you get into cross-referencing, you make more work for yourself. Keep it simple.

I file my ideas by using three subject notebooks. I like them because they easily travel anywhere. I don’t keep my notebooks forever. If I don’t use those ideas within a month after I fill the notebook, I toss the notebook and start a new one. If the idea is that good or if I’m that passionate about it, I create an outline on my computer for an article or book chapter. If the idea just sits in the notebook, it’s clutter.

I can picture some individuals gasping at the notion of tossing ideas in the trash. I’m hard core when it comes to de-cluttering. I don’t want to live in mediocrity surrounded by an ocean of ideas. I prefer to work with laser like precision by focusing on one project and completing it. In fact, I find that most of my ideas are directly related to whatever project I happen to be working on at the time. This is something that may come more naturally to you as you discover your bend as a writer.

For speaking, I have a different system. I write summaries and outlines for all my workshops and keep them in a folder on my computer. From time to time, I’ll open those folders, refine those workshops, and maybe swap them out on some of my promotional materials to keep things fresh.

There’s also software available to organize writing and speaking ideas. It will take time to input everything into the computer, but then you should be able to do searches by word or topic, depending on the software you choose. The only organizing software I recommend is the Paper Tiger. It’s not specific to writing, but it’s the best out there. For more information, please visit

Also, beware of working so much on ideas that you never actually pick a project and follow it through. That’s why I’m not that big on filing ideas—we just have so many of them that keeping track of them can be more of a project than we bargained for.

Sad News - Prayers Requested

This is a message I recently received from Deidre Knight (Cecil Murphy's agent).

Dear Friends

As many of you know, Cec Murphey's home burned to the ground yesterday morning, and his son-in-law was killed in the fire. Cec is loved by so many within the writing and publishing community, known as a mentor, friend, sponsor and prayer warrior. In the past twenty-four hours, the outpouring of love toward Cec and his family has been overwhelming and he is deeply touched by all the expressions of encouragement and support.

Stan and Carol Cottrell will be sharing their home with Cec and Shirley, beginning today. Stan and Carol live 1.5 miles from the former Murphey residence. They have a spare bedroom, private bath, and a room that is now designated as Cec's working office. This wonderful couple will keep the doors of their home open to Shirley and Cec for the short and long-term. Shirley and Cec will have free use of laundry and kitchen facilities as well as an open door to come and go as needed.

Today Carol will take Shirley shopping for personal items and clothing. Stan is taking Cec shopping for personal items, clothing, a new computer, a printer, and office supplies. Thank you for your contributions.

We are still working on funds to cover the following needs, and other needs that will arise.
· Desk and chair
· Book shelf· Lamp
· File folders, paper, dictionary, reference books
· Brief case
· Suit case for travels
· Desk clock
· Stereo system for office
· CDs (instrumental)
· Desk calendar
· Memory book (for cards and notes from friends)

If you would like to make a contribution, please mail check to Deidre:
Deidre Knight
The Knight Agency
577 South Main Street
Madison, GA 30650

Cards and letters may be sent to:
Cec and Shirley Murphey
c/o Stan Cottrell
4619 West Hampton Drive
Tucker, GA 30084

Funeral arrangements for Cec's son-in-law have not been made yet. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Deidre Knight and I will try to keep you updated. In the meantime, we ask that you direct inquiries to: deidre.knight@knightagency or

Cec and Shirley need some quiet time without the cell phone ringing constantly to sort things out, grieve, and make necessary business and personal decisions.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Cec and his family.
In Him,

Saturday, February 24, 2007

St. Catherine's Poetry/Art Exhbit

Next Weekend!

St. Catherine's
Photo, Art & Poetry Exhibition
March 2-4, 2007

March 2, 7:00-11:00
March 3, 6:00-11:00
March 4, 10:00-4:00

NJCWG member, Maude, has once again been invited to read her poetry and this year, Marilyn's grand-daughter (Carina) will have art work exhibited as well.

Friday, February 09, 2007

50% Disc - Delaware Christian Writers Conference

**Delaware Christian
Writers Conference**
April 19-21
University of Delaware
Newark, DE
24 Workshops
Writing Contests with cash prizes
Editorial appointments

To sign up email
for those of you who subscribe to SPIRIT-LED WRITER magazine there is a special (truly fantastic) deal!
**Special offer!**
Save 50% on the registration fee till Feb. 28.
**Pay only $295**
To Subscribe (its FREE) to the Spirit-Led Writer go their website and put your info in the subscription box.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Espresso For The Heart

My latest Espresso for the Heart column is now online at the Comfort Cafe.
Go to:

Louise Bergmann DuMont
Author & Speaker

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Over Used Modifiers

Overused Modifiers & Phrases
Presented to the NJCWG
by Louise Bergmann DuMont

Here are modifiers & phrases that can often be eliminated. Tossing these will tighten your work.

in fact
in general
in particular
in the future
in the past
needless to say
over time
per se

Using Conflict to Create Drama

As usual, the February meeting of the NJCWG was packed with info for every writer. I am posting one of the handouts here.

Using Conflict to Create Drama
Presented to the NJCWG 2/3/07
by Louise Bergmann DuMont

Q: Do I really need conflict? Can't my characters all just get along?
A: Without conflict there is no story. Life without conflict is not 'real.'

Q: I have lots of action in my novel but I was told that there isn't enough conflict. Aren't conflict and action the same thing?
A: New writers often mistake the two. Conflict is not action but conflict is the reason most action occurs. Meaningless action scenes are not enough to carry a story.

Imagine a scene where one car chases another up and down the narrow San Francisco streets … but you (the reader) have no idea why they are doing this or who is in the two cars. Do you care about the chase? Now imagine a scene where a young child has been kidnapped. The father sees the child being abducted and initiates a chase through the same streets. All through the chase he must balance keeping up with the evasive car in front of him, with the safety of pedestrians, the safety of other drivers on the road, and the safety of the car that holds the kidnappers (because his child inside that car).

An action scene has no point and holds no interest without the insertion of conflict.

Q: If conflict is not the same as action, what IS conflict?
A: Conflict is when two forces are in opposition to each other. These forces can be emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, sociological, or elemental

Q: I've heard of Internal Conflict and Personal Conflict, but what are they and are there other kinds of conflict?
A: There are many kinds of conflict and they can be called many things. Below are a few kinds of conflict that have been grouped for the sake of explanation:

Conflict with oneself. Inner turmoil. Moral dilemmas. Overcoming trauma. Psychological problems. Internal Conflict is not with other characters, though it can affect other characters. Internal Conflict comes across best when the reader feels they are in the mind of the character. This is because the reader can visualize the situation and they feel as if it was occurring to them..

This is about inter-personal relations - conflict between two or more individuals. It is often between the hero and his friends or the hero and his lover(s). It does not involve larger issues like peer pressure or the rules of society, but rather, the problems the characters have relating one to another.

Note: this is the conflict of choice.
Social Conflict can be between a parent and a child, between a doctor and a patient, between a hero and society, etc. Social Conflict occurs when you are dealing with issues that are larger than one-on-one relationships. Stories that deal with concepts like authority, injustice, persecution and assimilation are in the domain of the Social Conflict.

Elemental Conflict is between man and his environment. The hero deals with a non-personal, elemental force of nature. It could be anything from a long dormant volcano (now spewing lava) threatening a troop of hiking boy scouts to a pack of run-amuck butterflies overtaking a mid-western state.

Q: What is the nature of conflict? Isn't a story about the characters?
A: Conflict is impersonal but a story's characters should not be. For example, people understand the concept of war, but they don’t see what it has to do with them unless your main characters convey their feelings and situation to the reader. That is when it becomes tangible.

Your reader must "feel" something when they read a scene. Lets take that war story scenario. People may be dying on every page of your manuscript but the war will seem abstract to your reader. All that changes when the reader "sees" the war through the eyes of the main character. When they watch a child die in the arms of the hero (as seen through the eyes of his fiancée) the reader is touched. They fee the pain the woman feels, they see the remorse she sees in the eyes of her hero, and they share the conflict that occurs when the nurse's peaceful ideals and the hero's duty to his country collide. Conflict becomes real when our characters bring us into the story's world through their conflicts.

Conflict needs meaning to be powerful. So the issues of the conflict must be important to the characters. When the characters are emotionally involved, the reader is emotionally involved. This happens if (and only if) the reader cares about the characters. How does an author make the reader care? By using universal truths to touch the reader.

When you’re writing a story about personal and/or social conflicts, you’re really pitting the will of your characters against each other. And through that use of will, the reader learns who they are and what they’re made of. In an internal conflict, the character's will is pitted against his or her innate nature. They may have a fear of heights and yet they go to the 81st floor of a building for job interview that will allow them to feed their family after being out of work for more than a year. In this case, the character battles their own nature to do something for the greater good.

Lack of internal conflict limits a character’s dimension. Single minded individuals are only common in bad fiction -- not in life. If you are human, you have conflict. According to scientists, reason and emotion are completely intertwined. When someone suffers brain damage to the emotion centers of the brain, they lose the ability to make logical decisions. We learn by our mistakes. If we did not fear negative repercussions, we would have no reason to restrain or re-train ourselves.

Q: So how do I do this? How do I create "good" conflict? Conflict where the reader cares about the characters?
A: To write a good story you need to know your character's fears, their needs and desires. Discover their emotional hot buttons and use other characters to push those conflict buttons. Conflict does not necessarily mean a grumbling hero, a glowering child or a defiant teen. Real conflict meant taking the hero’s (or heroine’s) worst fear, twisting it around, and then throwing it back at them at the worst possible moment and saying, “Think fast!”

Make your characters face their flaws and fears. Toss out pages filled with quiet stay-at-home evenings, long candle lit dinners, shopping, and sweet kisses. Fill your pages their worst fears come true and how they over came those fears. Confront your characters with hard choices - make them chose between good and evil. And for the sake of your reader, have them mess up occasionally before they triumph over the "big bad."

Thursday, February 01, 2007


The latest issue of the SpiritLed Writer is on the web.

Writing From Heartache: 7 Tips for Sharing Your Grief with Others
Down From the Mountain: 6 After-Conference Strategies That Work
Poetry Potpourri
The Pitfall of Preachy Prose
Nuggets for Personal Journaling
Polishing Your Prose
Conference Review: Online Writing Conference
Analyzing a Magazine
Inspired Romance
And so... so... SO... much more

Check it out today!

Terry Whalin - Places to Visit

Terry Whalin has written more than 60 nonfiction books and has published in more than 50 magazines. He's been both an acquisitions editor and literary agent so he knows both sides of the story writing life. One of best works (in my opinion) is Book Proposals That $ell,
21 Secrets to Speed Your Success.
Here are a few great places where you can soak up Terry Whalin's expert advice.