Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch--The Body of the Devo

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals Part 4—The Body

Friday—The Writer's Porch

On the last Writer’s Porch we talked about the fact that usually you have an idea for a devotional and then find a Scripture that applies. So assuming that you have a must write thought and you have found the perfect Bible verse, let’s start to write the main portion of the devotional. This is the body of devo—the story or the anecdote.

This section allows you display your gift of writing. Woo your reader in with the very first sentence. Hook them—make them want to read to the end.

Here are a couple of samples of hook sentences that I have written.

“’I hate you!” she said as the door slammed behind her.’” (A Surprising Answer)

“My first mistake was that I named him.” (Stinkin’ Cute)

“Do you want to scream every time your daughter arrives sporting a new facial piercing?” (Is that Your Wild Child?)

Hopefully, these sentences intrigued you. My goal would be for you to say, “Hmmmm, I wish I could read the rest of that devotion.”

After writing a fabulous first sentence, keep your writing moving. Use action verbs that speed the reader forward. Try to avoid the passive verbs or “to be “ verbs, such as has, had, have, to be, etc. Passive verbs slow the reader down and lose their interest. It is better to say, “He slurped the cola” instead of “He had a cola.”

Make your verbs as action packed as possible. Read the following three sentences.

The squirrel ran up the tree.

The squirrel scooted up the oak tree.

The squirrel scurried up the evergreen pine.

Which of these sentences paints the picture in your mind? Scribble out your devotional and then go back to edit and revise the verbs and the descriptions. This enables you to get your original thoughts down and then perfect your piece of writing later.

So on that note, I want to share a memory. I remember being in 8th grade and painting a picture of the mountains. (I am an awful artist.) However, I clearly remember my art instructor chiding me and saying, “Mountains are only purple in songs.” I guess he was referring to the line from “America the Beautiful.” Now many years later, I am writing this blog trom Cody, Wyoming, and I am telling you the mountains appear purple.

Again, here are a couple of examples from two of my own past Proverbs 31 Devotionals.

The elderly gentleman approached us on a razor scooter. He grinned as he approached and I was almost blinded by his gold teeth that glittered in the afternoon sun. His 1970’s shorts clashed with his tie-dyed t-shirt. His baseball cap cocked to one side revealed long, thin, stringy hair dyed to auburn brown. (Peculiar Pete)

Every night Stinkin’ Cute appeared by my door. His sleek black and white fur shone underneath the porch light. The small critter’s eyes looked up expectantly for a nibble of food. I couldn’t resist. I tossed a piece of bread which he held daintily between his paws as he gobbled it. Stinkin’ Cute, a baby skunk, was adorable—until he became a stinking nuisance. (Stinkin’ Cute)

Describe what you see, smell, touch, hear and feel and you will grab the reader. The reader does not want to see black and white, they want to see through your eyes. Write what you experience in life! A well written devo can change lives. Write the best you can, for it will be written in people’s heart for eternity.

3 comments:

Mary said...

Susanne,

Thank you for your post today. I have recently felt the call to start writing devotions. I stumbled on your blog through my P31 devotional the week you started this series. I have worked hard over the past week on a devotional from your title "A Hail Storm". One of the things I had the most trouble with was a good opening sentence. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

Mary

Joyful said...

Susanne, I am just eating up these posts!!!! Thank you so much for all this well seasoned 'meat' - delicious!!!!

I did write about a storm on Tuesday. I just glanced back to see my first sentence: "Ominous clouds were approaching."

Thanks for all this valuable advice.

Enjoy your weekend!
Blessings,
Joy

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Susanne,
These posts are so helpful, just as you have been to me. After we spoke at She Speaks, I was given two opportunities to write devotions. This series couldn't have come at a better time!

Thanks for your comment on my blog. My daughter did the design so she and I thank you! And thanks for your encouraging words. So very appreciated.

Susan