Friday, July 31, 2009

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 2

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 2--Titles
Friday—The Writer's Porch

Today I am at She Speaks!, scurrying around and loving every minute. Soon I will be evaluating speakers and teaching a class on Pathway to Publication. So let’s get started on our own pathway to devotional writing.

When editors examine a devo for possible publication they are looking for uniqueness. They want something that snags the reader right from the beginning. The best way to do this is to have a catchy title. Make it memorable. Now before I say this, please know that I love “the woman at the well.” I am the woman at the well, but don’t title your devo, “The Woman at the Well.” Why? Because it alerts the reader to what the meditation contains. If they’re not interested in the woman at the well, then you’ve lost the potential reader. You want your audience to look further than the title.
In my hand, I have a copy of The Upper Room, a daily devotional magazine. Its audience is estimated to be about 8-10 million. That’s a lot! They know what constitutes a great devotional. Here are a few of the titles that nabbed me.

Soul Solitude
Kindness Costs
Berry Picker
Grumpy Old Men
Get Over It!

A few years ago, I wrote a devo with the title, “Peculiar Peter”; it received many responses and comments on the website. Another one titled “Woof” also intrigued readers. These types of titles spur the audience to read the entire devotional.

However, remember that the title must tie in with the body of the devotional. Don’t think up a great title and then mislead the reader by taking the shortbread in a completely different direction. A great devotional has only one direction and usually only one point, so make sure the title is memorable and ties in. Think "fishing line"—hook, line and the big catch. The title is the hook, the body of the devo is the line and the audience is the big catch.

And don't forget, at the end of this series I will have a contest for the best devo title. Put your thinking caps on and be original.


Joyful said...

OK...I've been missing out on a gold mine here!

I'm visiting from reading your P31 devotional today. Back in February I wrote about "unintentional sins" based on Leviticus 5:17, "Suppose you sin by violating one of the LORD's commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin." (Feb 17, 2009

Then, in May of this year I wrote about the same verse you highlighted in your devotional today. (May 7, 2009

I wish I could be quick to say that I have never chosen to sin deliberately, but unfortunately, even saying so, I'd then be speaking such.

I have known in my heart that the unkind words about to run from my lips will hurt, yet I have provided their footing.

I have realized that my action will pain another, yet I chose to proceed.

I have considered that I would be demonstrating pride by continuing down that path, but I have walked it regardless.

I frequently find myself praying from Psalm 139, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Father, show me where I have deliberately or inadventently refused to follow Your commands.

Also want to say 'thank you' for all these devo writing tips!!!! I began writing a devotional of sorts every day this year on my blog as I'm reading through the chronological Bible. What a wealth of knowledge and help your writings are here! So glad I came for a visit.

Praying for you this weekend at "She Speaks". I'm part of the "She Prays" team. I know the Lord will honour and bless all your efforts.

Joyfully His,

Nancy J Locke said...

Thank you for these awesome devotional writing tips, Susanne.

Just read your skirt story in my email. That happened to me at college - the first part - and I was mortified. Can't IMAGINE having bad luck at the airport too.

You are a beautiful soul to share this.

Blessings! Nancy J Locke

Lynn Cowell said...

Thanks for the reminder about the devo writing. I so enjoyed your precious hugs this weekend. You are a dear one!

B His Girl said...

Thanks for the wisdom. B