Tuesday, March 29, 2022

From the Archives: Spring Cleaning For Your Writing

When we have five Tuesdays in a month, or if one of our regular contributors is unable to make a deadline, we've been digging out some gems from the archives. Today's post was written by Cara Putman, as timely now as it was four years ago.


I've been feeling the itch to spring clean. There’s something about the feeling of order coming from chaos. The fact that everything has a place that it belongs. There's also something therapeutic about throwing old things away that truly don't serve a purpose anymore. It's hard to do, but it's good. That means I've been tackling a drawer here and a hutch there. I pulled all the out-grown kids clothes from various stashes and separated them for four families. Crazy!

What does this have to do with writing?

Sometimes our writing needs a spring cleaning. We've hit a point where we just need to go through and cut some words. We've gotten a little flabby with our sentences and need to exercise the delete key.

Maybe there's a character that needs to be punched up. A scene that's unnecessary. A chapter that needs to be enhanced.

We need to take a fresh look at what we've written and critically evaluate it.


Maybe it's time to read an award-winning or much talked about book in your genre. How does that writer craft their story? What can you learn from them? 

Or it's time to crack open that craft book you purchased years ago and remind yourself how to put tension on every page or create three dimensional characters. to crack open that craft book you purchased years ago and remind yourself how to put tension on every page or create three dimensional Could it be time to pray over your writing and ask God how you're doing?

Or maybe you need to step way back and take a break from writing. Try another creative endeavor. Give your subconscious a chance to noodle the plot points that are giving you fits.

Whatever you do, take a few minutes or hours to spring clean your writing.


The award-winning, best-selling author of more than 35 books, Cara Putman graduated college at 20 and completed her law degree at 27. FIRST for Women magazine called Shadowed by Grace “captivating” and a “novel with ‘the works.'” Cara is active at her church and a full-time Clinical Associate Professor on business and ethics to undergraduate and graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and was a second-generation homeschooling mom for twelve years. Putman obtained her Master’s in Business Administration from Krannert and her J.D. from George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. You can connect with her online at: caraputman.com.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Personality on the Page


Ten days ago, ACFW Indiana hosted author Lisa Jordan as our featured speaker on the topics of theme and voice, two extremely nebulous concepts. After twelve years of learning the craft of writing fiction, I had gained a grasp of theme. Basically, what is your story about beyond your plot? The central idea that drives your characters and the plot. Lisa compared it to the foundation of an iceberg. I liked that picture. Most of my theme will be under the surface, between the lines.

But author voice? I could never get a handle on that.

Here’s what I do know about it:

1.  Readers intuitively hear the author’s voice, but they don’t want that voice to interfere in the story. Say what? How do I know if I stuck my voice where it didn’t belong?

2.  It’s not any character’s voice. They have their own personalities.

3.  It takes time to recognize your own voice in your writing. Tell me about it! Readers comment about recognizing my voice, and all I can do is stare at them. What do they hear? I don’t want to put them on the spot by asking them to analyze something that’s so hard to put into words.

Lisa shared how her voice involves faith and small-town living, that all voices are built on the author's choices regarding sentence structure and flow, on vocabulary choices, and on each writer's life experiences. Simply put, author voice is your personality on the page.

The light bulb went on! I loved her phrase. Your personality on the page. It made so much sense. My author voice reflects my personality! And readers gain a sense of who I am when they read my work. My heart goes into my writing, and the reader recognizes my heart.

So, the question becomes, “Do I know my own personality?” Do I know my heart? Lisa listed items that influence author voice. She gave us exercises to help us find our voice and how to strengthen it. You can listen to our Zoom meeting to learn about those exercises. Go to our Past Events page, and the link is at the bottom of the March 5 entry.

I’ll finish with a simple quiz. Below are two quotes from contemporary American authors. By author voice, can you tell which one belongs to Frank Peretti and which to Ann Patchett?  If you can, you’ve recognized author voice! If you’re not sure, I’ll give the answer on our Facebook page tomorrow. 😉

1.  “It was a normal Tuesday evening. No one expected anything unusual. No one saw or heard a thing. No one could have.”

2.  “The news of Anders Eckman’s death came by way of Aerogram, a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served as both the stationery and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the envelope. Who even knew they still made such things?”


Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She has completed a  middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister and is currently working on a women’s fiction series.

Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.

A wife, mother of three, and grandmother to eight, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!

Where Linda can be found on the web: