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Right Writing News, March 22, 2004, Issue #004
March 22, 2004
Welcome to the fourth issue which highlights a best-selling author's writing life and some writing tips. This publication appears bi-monthly.
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Table of Contents1) Tapped Into God's Power Through Prayer For Her Writing - Stormie Ormartian
2) Ten Tips to Help You Write Good Screen Dialogue by Dr. Dennis E. Hensley
3) Writing Tips
3) New Links to Check
Tapped Into God's Power Through Prayer For Her Writing
--Stormie OrmartianEditor's note: With the multitude of books on prayer, this story about Stormie Ormartian should be encouraging for writers. Anyone can tackle a much published topic--yet if they write in a fresh way, there is hope that it can turn into a bestseller. wtw
For almost seven years, The Power of A Praying Wife (Harvest House) has been a mainstay on the Christian nonfiction bestseller list with more than 2.6 million copies in print in fifteen different languages. For 68 of 70 months, this book has been on the CBA bestseller list and appeared for 55 consecutive weeks on the Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists. Many people don't know the personal story of the author, Stormie Ormartian. A well-known member of the Hollywood community, Ormartian appeared regularly on television programs such as The Dean Martin Show, The Glen Campbell Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and many others. Her husband, Michael, is a successful producer and composer. Stormie has spoken to many women in conferences and written the story of how she came to know Jesus personally in a moving bestseller called Stormie (Harvest House).
While successful on the outside, on the home front, Stormie struggled. For more than ten years she had one prayer for her marriage, "Lord, change him." God would answer her prayers for others and her children but this prayer went unanswered.
Stormie and Michael brought a great deal of emotional baggage into their marriage. "I had been locked in the closet and abused as a child," Stormie says. Her hours of depression, hurt and fear drove her aspect of their relationship. Michael brought a great deal of anger and feelings of misunderstanding because of his life-long struggle with dyslexia. The combination of Stormie's insecurities and Michael's anger was horrible and growing in severity.
Their marriage finally reached a crisis point. The Ormartians were fighting constantly and not communicating. Stormie was about to take her children and flee the relationship. While Michael was on a business trip, late one night, Stormie sat on the edge of her bed with her open Bible praying, "Lord, I can't take this any more and I know you don't want me to divorce but I'm out of options."
One day the Lord impressed something different on her heart saying, "It is you who needs to change, Stormie." Day by day, she began to change her prayers to "Lord, change me, and I want to intercede for my husband." As her prayers changed, Stormie's marriage began to change. And she says with a smile, "Everyone needs changing. The key question is who is willing to change?"
On her knees, Stormie began to pray every day for Michael saying, "Lord, I will work through You. I confess my attitude of hurt and anger. My past is in your right hand and I'm a child of God." She didn't just pray for a singular aspect of Michael’s life but for every aspect—that God would lead him and show him the plan for his life.
After several days, Stormie told Michael about her experience and how she wanted to pray specifically for his needs. "He was so touched that he opened up and began to detail the various things he wanted me to pray about. They were aspects of his struggles which I wasn't even aware of," Stormie recalls.
Michael confessed his workaholic tendencies and felt devastated. He had spent so many hours away from his children and Stormie, the Ormartians wondered if God could redeem the lost time. "I've seen such great changes in this area for Michael," Ormartian says. Now after over 30 years of marriage, Stormie had personally experienced the power of a praying wife. She knew that it would work for others but would people do it? "The first chapter is very hard on women and I know it because it was hard for me," Stormie said. "I can't believe that women were giving their lives to prayer for their husbands." Her mail has been incredible from this book, which covers 30 different areas of specific prayer. One woman wrote, "When I began your book, I was so angry that I threw it across the room and it stayed in the corner for a week until the Holy Spirit convicted me to pick it back up again."
"It's amazing how God works. I've received letters of people who have separated and divorced, yet after reading this book have gotten back together." Stormie explained. "I made the right decision personally in prayer, then writing this book, and God has used it for his greatest blessing on my marriage."
The Power of a Praying series has sold more than six million copies and spun off more than 40 ancillary and licensed products. The Power of a Praying Parent is also on the bestseller lists and has sold more than 1.3 million copies.
Several years ago, the Omartians teamed their effort on a different project—a coffee table book called Child of the Promise (Harvest House) and an album with the same name (Sparrow Records). The project is about the birth of Jesus. Why? Stormie simply throws up her hands and says, "I asked the same question too. This book was the wind of the Holy Spirit in my life. Michael and I wrote the music in two weeks. It was not something we did under our own power or strength."
The book includes fifteen scenes and sixteen songs which different artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael Crawford, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Michael W. Summer and Donna Grant. Michael would get up in the morning and write a melody saying, "Stormie, come to the piano and listen to this melody." Ormartian recalls the intensity of the experience with tears saying, "He would cry and I would cry. The Holy Spirit took over and the words became real because they were about real people."
God always keeps his promise is another theme in this moving package. "He uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things," Stormie explains. Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, sings about her dream of her child dying. "If our dreams are born from God and not men, then they can be rekindled and given birth—like Elizabeth," Stormie said about the book. The overall book makes Christmas come alive in a fresh and new manner. "It fills out the Christmas season like never before".
Whether in her own personal life or the life of the Biblical mother of Jesus, Mary, Stormie knows, "Life isn't easy. God works in the difficult things in our life to give Him Glory from it." The depth of prayer and the power of communication is obvious in the life of Stormie Ormartian. Her life has been transformed through the power of a praying wife. __________________________________________________
W. Terry Whalin understands both sides of the editorial desk--as an editor and a writer. He worked as a magazine editor for Decision and In Other Words. His magazine articles have appeared in more than 50 publications including Writer’s Digest and Christianity Today. Terry has written more than 55 nonfiction books and his latest is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Teaching the Bible (Alpha Books). See more about his writing at:www.right-writing.com/whalin.html. For more than 12 years Terry has been an ECPA Gold Medallion judge in the fiction category. He has written extensively about Christian fiction and reviewed numerous fiction books in publications such as CBA Marketplace and BookPage. He is the Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Howard Publishing. Terry and his wife, Christine, live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
© 2004 W. Terry Whalin
Ten Tips to Help You Write Good Screen Dialogue
By Dennis E. HensleyIf you are working on a script and you seem to run into mental roadblocks from time to time when creating dialogue, here are ten ways to "walk the talk."
Cast the character. As you are writing dialogue, imagine a specific character or actress who would be saying those words. Cameron Diaz is very different from Gwyneth Paltrow. Tom Cruise is very different from Bruce Willis. By picturing a specific person in your mind, it will become easier to write words for that character.
Act it out. Read your scene aloud. Play the parts. Perform the scene a variety of ways as though responding to a director or lighting assistant or cameraman. Rewrite whatever sounds stilted or unnatural. Keep acting out the scene until it works.
Drop words. When you get to the editing stage, make it tighter.
Curve the language. Avoid contemporary catch phrases ("Get over it" . . . "Don't go there…."). Consider using clever metaphors or descriptive phrases instead of the actual normal wording. Instead of saying, "I just heard the boss is going to fire you, Marge," have the character say, "Your slip is showing, and it's pink."
Try to have one gem of dialogue per act. Clint Eastwood could have said, "Oh, yeah? Well, I dare you." Instead, he said, "Go ahead, Punk. Make my day." The audience roared. Create lines like, "Houston, we have a problem" and "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way" and "May the Force be with you."
Use the "sidestep" to answer questions in unusual ways. In the movie "Patch Adams," the doctor asks the pretty teenage girl why she is so defensive and remote. She replies, "Let's just say that men have been attracted to me all my life…all my life." The audience gets the message. She doesn't have to explain that she has been molested since an early age.
Consider using silence as a non-answer "answer." When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler asked Him, "What is truth?" Jesus turned His face full upon Pilate and just stared back at him. The obvious unspoken answer was, "You're looking at it."
Turn information into conflict or confrontation. You can get back story and exposition out by revealing it during conflict. For example, in "China Town," Jack Nicholson gets angry at Faye Dunaway because he thinks she has been feeding him false information and telling him two stories. He starts slapping her in the face and asking, "Is the girl your sister or your daughter? Answer me! Answer me!" Finally, she says, "She's my sister…and my daughter." Instantly, the audience realizes that the Faye Dunaway character was raped by her father and he is the one who got her pregnant.
Sometimes let visual images substitute for actual dialogue. In the movie "Shane," after the drifter has his supper with the settler family, he gets up and goes outside without saying where he's going. He gets an axe and starts to chop out a huge tree root in the middle of the yard. Soon, the dad joins him. They work for hours and get it loose, but they refuse to use the horses to pry it out. Instead, they break it out themselves. All the while, the little boy of the family watches the men and it is obvious he is learning a lesson about how to say thanks with work rather than words. The audience understands, too.
See how few words you can use and still have it flow. Don't repeat a beat (scene). Cut bloated passages. Eliminate all one-word passages (orphans), such as "No" and "Why?"
Keep this list handy. When you find that the words won't come, use some of these ten tips and "loosen the tongue."
Dr. Dennis E. Hensley is director of the professional writing program at Taylor University Fort Wayne, where he is a professor of English. His 40 books include such titles as Surprises and Miracles of the Season (Beacon Hill Press), Man to Man (Kregel Publishers) and How to Write What You Love and Make a Living at It (Harold Shaw/Random House).
Writing TipsStormie Ormartian could have looked at the market and noted the hundreds of books which have been written on prayer. Instead, she knew firsthand how prayer worked in her own life and developed a book for other wives, then husbands, then parents to experience the power of prayer. What firsthand experiences are you having in your own life? Can you write about these experiences in a magazine article or a book? Take some time during the next few days to capture a few ideas that you would like to work into a magazine article, then take active steps to get these ideas into print.
Whether you write screenplays or novels, Dr. Dennis Hensley has ten valuable tips to help you. Good storytelling is good storytelling whether it is in fiction or nonfiction. I recommend you look at the Writers Are Readers button and select one of these resources to boost your own writing.
Does your writing have blindspots? Each of us have areas we could improve. In the early days of my writing, I got help with my blindspots through a critique group. Some groups meet often and some groups meet once a month. If you'd like to know how to get your writing moving through a critique group, be sure and read Join A Critique Group to get your writing moving.
New Links to Check
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