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A Ne ws lett er f or Ch rist ia ns wh o Writ e

Welcome to the first issue of PNEUMA

Moses tells us that the first born “So, why did it get sent to
male is “holy unto the Lord.” me?”
While I’m unsure of the gender of Volume 1, Issue 1
this newsletter, as my first born, I Because I know you person- April 2008
hope it too will be “holy unto the ally. Or because someone told
Lord.” me about you. Because you
claim the name of Christ. Be-
With that in mind, I’m sure you cause you are interested in Inside this issue:
have some questions. writing.

“What is PNEUMA?” “What will it cost me?” Finding Your Story’s 2

Heart, Part 1
PNEUMA is an irregularly issued Nada. Nothing. It’s my min-
newsletter focusing on the spiritual istry. I will pay for it. Just Three Important 3
side of writing. Yep, it’s me. enjoy freely. Things to Know

Over the years I’ve seen a number “What if I don’t want it?” Arlo 3
of newsletters and magazines aimed
at writers. I even wrote for several more. I want steak and pota- Let me know, and I’ll take you
of them. Most of these publica- toes. I want a practical think- off the list. No hard feelings. My Publishing Cred- 4
tions – secular or sacred – focus on ing man’s meal dealing with I won’t love you any the less. its
techniques. Why not? After all, how writing relates to the
the techniques of writing are the “upward call of Jesus Christ.” “What if I want to share it Quick Tips on Story 4
same whether you are a Christian or That is the goal of PNEUMA: with a friend?” Structure
not. to steer between secular in-
struction and emotional cotton PNEUMA is copyrighted by
The down side to secular magazines candy, to examine in a practi- me. That means if someone
is their understandable inability to cal and up front way the spiri- wants to reproduce any part of
deal with spiritual issues. Their tual side of writing. it he or she will need my per-
advice in those areas while always mission.
unusable can sometimes be danger- “Who is responsible for
ous. New Age answers never con- PNEUMA?” If you want to give copies to
stitute a Christian response. others, go ahead. However, if
It’s my dream; so I am. I will you plan to use it in some What will be in fu-
Likewise, the sacred side fails at do all – or at least most – of piece of writing, or to some- ture issues?
times. Confusing human wisdom the writing. That means the how make money off
for God’s direction is one such fail- tone here will be very per- PNEUMA’S material, talk to • Articles for both fiction
ure. Supposedly sacred articles that sonal, a dialogue between you me first. and fact writers
offer purely secular advice are of no and me.
• A look at some of the
use. The same is true of articles “What if I have suggestions to
that address the spiritual aspects of “What makes you think you’re make?” important differences
the craft but seemed to have been qualified to give anyone ad- between secular and
written by people who have turned vice on writing?” Send them. I’m open to ques- Christian writing
off their brains, pumped up their tions and suggestions. I will
emotional volume, and filled their A fair question. All I can say even look at submissions. I • A look at writer’s
vocabulary to overflowing with is look at my publishing cred- can’t promise I will use them; block—Yes, Virginia, it
adjectives like “glorious,” its on page 4. If you think that but I will consider them. The does exist
“wonderful,” and “awesome.” qualifies me, read on. If not, one certainty is that I can not
toss this aside. pay you for them. I’m bank- • Answers to questions
As a Christian who writes, I want rolling this myself, remember. posed by my daughter
Tara, an as yet unpub-
lished fictioneer

PNEUMA is copyrighted 2008 by Larry E. Neagle


F i n d i n g Yo u r S t o r y ’s H e a r t , P a r t 1
Twelve Principles for Writing
I don’t know if anyone has character. It isn’t your style. It cultures, and in both genders.
Everybody has their favorite made a study of what goes on isn’t good story strategy. And
inside a writer’s head during it isn’t knowledge of your genre Once you know the character
set. Here’s mine. those first adrenalin filled mo- and how it works. and the source of his broken-
ments of a story’s birth. In no ness, you work your way to the
1. Do all for the glory of particular order, a character You can do all that well and the redemption part. Let the Hound
God. comes alive and begins to do story will still lie there dead and of Heaven loose in a series of
things on his own, or an inter- inert. What makes your story tension increasing disasters.
2. Write who you are. esting bit of what-if action ex- live comes from something that Your story ends at the critical
plodes inside, or both simulta- transcends those. moment when the only way to
Write from your neously. win is to release self and reach
passions. I have 10 possibilities to sug- out in faith to the unknown.
As soon as the blush is off, gest here as to what that tran-
3. Write only the truth. however, we discover our won- scendent item might be. The reverse of redemption is
derful idea is just like a dream: damnation. To tell a redemp-
4. Write on a regular basis,
full of inconsistent characters, Don’t be put off by the fact that tion story correctly, damnation
whether you want to or unnecessary characters, vanish- these will look like plot ele- must be equally as possible. So
ing characters and full of plot ments. Indeed they can be used make your story such that the
not. holes, unrelated actions, and as minor elements in almost any focal character could as easily
events with no resolution. larger story you care to tell. choose wrongly as rightly. If
5. Risk audacity. Be bold,
However, I’m talking about he chooses to abandon self, to
but not foolish. Depending on the severity of when one of these possibilities launch out into the invisible in
these issues, I’ve been known to is the central reason for the ex- self-sacrifice, he wins. If he
6. Write the first draft as sour on an idea altogether. istence of the story. Think of rejects that, choosing to hold
fast as possible. Edit Face it; some ideas deserve to them not as plot elements, but onto self, to cling to the visible,
be given up on. But some as plot starters, understandings he looses and sinks into trag-
later. There are no good don’t. So how do you find your to guide to appropriate plots. edy.
way through to a good story?
writers, only good Don’t be put off by the number Of my own stories in this area,
rewriters. In those post-blush moments, I 10 either. There’s nothing my favorite is “The Holy Man”
look for the story’s heart. I magical there. It could be 8 or which was reprinted in the first
7. Welcome obstacles. They look for what makes it live. I’m 12. And you could easily come of Steve Stanton’s Sky Songs
talking about what the story up with some I’ve left out. anthologies. The main charac-
are possibilities for really is, and from that an un- ter showed up with story possi-
creativity, places where derstanding of its underlying The first of my 10 is redemp- bilities sticky taped all over
unifying issue. Without that the tion. Many years ago I decided him. I’m still playing around
God can work. story will unravel. With it, I that I wanted to writer stories of with some of them.
can get a sense of what will lonely and broken people find-
8. Never let the non-fliers make it work. ing companionship and whole- The second of my 10 is deliver-
keep you grounded. ness. I’ve written a number of ance. I mentioned self-sacrifice
Sometimes that vision I ours these over the years and still a moment ago. If possible, self-
9. Expect rejection. And from the beginning. Praise the enjoy them the most. Character sacrifice is even more a part of
Lord! Sometimes we have to and plot work together in these. deliverance stories. Think of it
overcome it. work for it by writing and re- Much of the action will be de- this way: if your focal charac-
10. Listen to the pros. writing and rewriting. When termined by the character’s na- ter is on the receiving end, what
that happens I take comfort in ture. Where specifically is he he gets is deliverance; if he is
11. Master words. And, the fact that none of the words I broken? Myriad possibilities on the offering end self-
write are wasted. They guided suggest themselves here: frail sacrifice is how he offers it. As
when called for, don’t me to the story’s truth. health, angry relatives, any kind I said, the focal character in
hesitate to invent a new of sin – one’s own or that of “The Holy Man” came with
So how do you find your story’s another upon us – job loss, or multiple plot possibilities. It
one. heart? What is it really all income reversals. Well, you started a series, not all written,
about? see what I mean. When it not all published. Somewhen,
12. Always check your facts.
comes to man’s inhumanity to though, the time will come for
Before I suggest some possibili- man, the sky is the limit. Not to the final story. It will be a de-
ties, let me first give some mention the fact that theologi- liverance story. Because my
things it isn’t. Your story’s cally it is a universal need. It character became a prophet, he
heart is not the plot. It isn’t the exists in all time periods, in all must eventually go the way all
Volume 1, Issue 1 Page 3

prophets go. He must give up Think changing lanes on the with an opportunity to slide Why Readers Read:
all – and thus win all – to save freeway in rush hour traffic. back into stagnation. Tempt
his people. Once forced into moving, they him. Tempt him mightily. But • Excitement
don’t want to change speeds or never let him succumb. When
As with all 10 of my possibili- directions. Think of the little his will proves shaky, pull out a • Escape
ties, the in-between plot just blue-haired turtle – “It’s my cattle prod.
ratchets up the tension in steady lane. I’m going as fast as I in- • To live someone else’s life
strokes. The ending, however, tend. You slow down.” Or, in Plot-wise, it works like this:
while looking to the world as a my case, I won’t tell you how terror or something similarly
• To experience tension
tragedy, must be shown in its often I have shot past my exit. significant forces him on his
true light as the greatest thing journey. He starts to slide.
that could possibly happen. In Something significant must You come in with a prod – in- Why Readers Don’t Read:
other words, it must be an abso- start your character on his ternal or external, but definitely
lute wowser. quest. Something must move related to his goal – that forces • To be confused
Frodo from his comfortable him to pick up speed again. He
The third of my 10, and the last Hobbit home all the way to starts to slide and you prod • To be insulted or belittled
for this article, is quest. Some- Mordor. The fact that the ring again. And again. And again.
times I call these journey sto- will eat his soul if he doesn’t And again. Until you have him • To be bludgeoned with
ries, or on-the-road-again sto- move isn’t enough. That will where he needs to be, filled – your greatness or
ries. In a sense every story is a happen tomorrow. Or the day because of your relentless prod-
quest for the focal character, after. Today the sun is shining, ding – with a determination to technique
usually an inner quest. This the temperature is invigorating, do what must be done, even if it
type of story just exteriorizes and a snooze, or a good book, means his own death. • To be reminded they are
the journey. or the garden is calling. So
along come the Ring-Wraiths. That’s enough for this issue. reading
Again you start with character. I’ll pick
What moves him? Like real Find what will scald your focal up here
people, focal characters are character’s behind and get him next
amazingly slothful. They don’t hopping. Then keep him hop- time.
move unless they have to. ping. Prelude each forced hop

Three Important Things

Yo u N e e d t o K n o w
I am not infallible. I don’t popularity of film, of cable/
know all the answers. I make satellite television, and the
mistakes. And sometimes I just Internet have changed every-
get it wrong. Then again, there thing.
are things I know to be mistakes
that a publisher may let you get I can help you come up with
away with. The odds are something a publisher might be
against such, but they do hap- interested it. I cannot guarantee
pen. it. Publishers are in business to
make money. That means that
The things I will tell you are you have no God given right to
things that work in today’s writ- get published. If you want to
ing. Today’s writing means get published you have to write
that it is the kind of thing that the kind of thing they think they
publishers and readers are look- can make money on. They are
ing for today, not what they not infallible either. Many
looked for ten – fifty – a hun- good books have a hard time
dred – years ago. Many books finding a publisher. However,
that were published that long they do have a pretty good feel
ago would not get published about what the folks who buy
today. What readers look for their books want. Your job –
has changed. Things that used should you decide to accept it –
to excite them have become is to provide what their readers
trite. Things they used to put want – not what you want, but
up with now just irritate. The what they want.
My Publishing Credits
During a violent storm, a woodpecker de- At one point I was writing for every issue of
cided to hammer away at the tree he was six different magazines. Along the way I
Published by:
in. A few pecks later, lightning flashed began to illustrate some of my articles with
Larry E. Neagle
down and split the tree in two. Shaken the my own cartoons. So, over 1000 of my car-
703 Windridge Lane
bird stared at the tree for a moment then toon illustrations have published as well.
Burleson, TX 76028
flew off. A few minutes later he was back
with seven other birds. Puffing out his My first venture into the book world, actu-
chest he said, “Look at what I did.” ally, was as an illustrator. I created the illus-
trations for a book entitled How to Disci-
Publishing is as much a gift of God to me pline the Hard to Handle Child. Along that
as lightning was to that bird. I didn’t do it, line I later created a cartoon feature, “Arlo,”
God did. for the long since defunct Living Streams.
How to Market For those that keep records, however, I’ve I wrote two books of my own: Bungle,
been writing for publication since 1974.
Your Writing the (That is, that’s the first year someone
Botch, and Fizzle: A Compendium of Prac-
tical Advice on How to Fail in the Ministry
Easy Way bought and printed something I wrote. I’m
not counting the joke that was published
published by CSS Publishers in 1982 and An
Underground Manual for Spiritual Sur-
under my name in a comic book when I vival published in 1986 by Moody Press.
Every editor for a Christian publisher was 12.)
wants these four things: I wrote “Branching Out” articles for the sec-
1. To fulfill his publication’s mis- Since then I’ve written somewhere be- ond and fourth editions of Religious
sion. tween 350 and 400 articles, short stories, Writer’s Marketplace, a precursor to Sally
2. To please his readers. and so on published in newspapers and Stuart’s annual market book.
3. To increase sales. magazines. Most of the magazines were
4. To fill a spiritual need.
Christian. At one time or another I’ve Oh yes, I also wrote a dozen or so 15 minute
Help him do those things and you written for Christianity Today, Charisma, video scripts for the Sunday School Board of
will be published. Home Life, Pentecostal Evangel, and too the Southern Baptist Convention. These
many more for me to even try to remem- were all done in connection to the standing
ber. My most recent publishing credit was commitment I had at the time with their The
in the January issue of Cross and Quill. Deacon magazine.

Q u i c k Ti p s o n S t o r y S t r u c t u r e
The first novels were told – that is present the story from one person three are important. In rapid-fire so on. 99.9% of that is totally
the action was related not as it hap- and only one person’s head. This conversation you may leave out unnecessary and totally uninter-
pened but from some vantage point is called viewpoint. It is one of the internalization for a short esting to anyone other than the
down the line a bit. There are the easiest elements to mess up time; but only a short time. Inter- writer. Start the story/scene not at
many problems with that. The and one of the surest ways to keep nalization is how you do view- its beginning but when the action
main one is that it keeps the reader your work from selling. The first point. It is getting into your char- gets hot. The reader is after the
removed from the action. When question a reader asks when read- acter’s head. By the way, the or- juicy stuff. So start with the juicy
the action isn’t immediate the ing is “Whose head am I in?” The der here is important. The se- stuff.
reader loses interest. The second is focal character – the head they are quence is always cause, then in-
that it screws up the story line with in – needs to be set from the first ternalization, and then the effect. Contrary to popular belief the sole
author intrusions – asides and ex- sentence of each scene. You can It is always “Hearing the shot, Joe reason for reading fiction is enter-
planations to the “dear reader.” change your focal character when turned” never “Joe turned after tainment. That means that at any
you change scenes, but NEVER hearing the shot.” You may think moment a reader could get bored
The structure of a story should be within a scene. it is cute or powerful to hide the with your writing and put it down
such that you put the reader smack cause of a character’s reaction; to watch Jerry Springer. This is
into the story “now” – just like For now just keep in mind that the but it only frustrates and confuses important. You may have all sorts
what happens when you watch a scene is the basic unit of writing a your reader. of things you want to teach them.
movie, experiencing the story as it story. Each scene is a unit of ac- They are uninterested in that.
happens, and not merely being told tion – it may be just a few para- Keep in mind as well that the right They will only put their money
about it later. graphs long or an entire chapter starting point for a story or a down to buy your book if it offers
long. Its length is determined by scene isn’t where most beginning and delivers an entertaining story.
One of the main elements in story the importance of that action to writers think. They want to start
structure – one that has been found the story. Action is always cause, at the beginning and tell the roots
to work time and time again – is to internalization, and effect. All of the event, how it built up and