By Don Zoller
My wife, Beverley, and I spent a few years as exhibitors at mission conferences for an international ministry. These gatherings often drew several thousand people. Throughout the event, many came through the exhibition hall while anxious exhibitors were waiting to tell their story of what God was doing in their part of the world. Attracting people to stop at our booth to hear our message was the challenge. While many walked by the exhibits without much interest, we knew we only had a few seconds to capture the attention of the curious few who stopped at our exhibit.
So, it is with what you write. The opening sentence is key to drawing a reader into your story. These words must be prayerfully managed and arranged in such a way that the curious will stop and read.
“Did I ever tell about the time I fell off an elephant?” This is an example, maybe a bit exaggerated, but it does capture the attention of the curious. When you begin to write, use a provocative question or an emphatic statement. Something short, to the point—something that grabs and holds the attention. Remember, what you write is not to be a long and tiring journey for your reader. Write with energy and passion. It is, after all, God’s story. God is never boring!
Make use of both short and longer sentences—mix it up. However, don’t make the reader run out of breath before he or she finishes the long sentences. Use commas for understanding and clarity. Is your sentence too long? Maybe two sentences would be better. A good way to edit what you wrote is to stand and read it out loud, or have a friend read it back to you. This will help you hear where to insert breathing spaces throughout your story.
Next, make sure your verb forms are strong and active, not passive, e.g., “to help” not “to allow.” This is where your thesaurus will help you. Choose words that are active, forceful, and to the point. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to say?” Then, say it concisely. If needed, add adjectives sparingly to enhance your word-picture.
At the end of this weekly series, I will provide a list of resources. From this list, you will find a wealth of information about writing technique and style to help you with your writing project .
Your action today—Pray that the Lord will give you just the right words to write, in proper order, and with clarity of meaning to give the reader an exciting and engaging experience. Until then . . .
Blessings and Shalom
Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
Don has recently joined the family at Trinity and is active in the 50+ Bible Study. He enjoys writing and has authored several books that provide spiritual encouragement and biblical insights. His son and daughter-in-law, Graham and Susan, are also members at Trinity.