I’m honored to announce that I am now an official member of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. I was made a member due to my upcoming novelization of the film Persecuted.
Excited for Persecuted? I am! It’s my first-ever novelization, and I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on it. Bethany House Publishers has posted a 26-page preview of the book, which includes the Forward by filmmaker Daniel Lusko, the Prologue, and the first three chapters. You can read the entire thing below.
By the way, if you haven’t seen it yet, the official website for the movie Persecuted is up and running now, complete with a timely blog covering the persecution of Christians around the world, so be sure and check out this super important resource.
Oh great God of Creation, be God over all of me.
I am weak, but your strength is without equal.
I am weary, but you never falter, never sleep, never run out of energy, and never make excuses.
This body is broken, but you are the greatest physician of all time.
I am tiny, but you fill every corner of the universe’s vast expanse.
I am poor, but you own all of Creation.
I am flawed, but you are perfection.
I am selfish, but you sacrificed everything you are to come to my rescue.
I am apathetic, but you care about the soul of every person who has ever lived and ever will.
I am dirty, but there’s nothing your blood can’t wash and make pure.
My tongue is wicked, but your words are the source of life.
I am ineffectual, but you are all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful.
I am inconsistent, but you never change.
I am unreliable, but you are faithful beyond the very end of time.
I am pursued by trouble and darkness, but you are my protector, sheltering me under your mighty wing.
Oh great God of Creation, be God over all of me.
One of the basic tenets of creative writing is that feasting on a regular diet of good literature will help improve your own writing. And I agree that there’s value in this tactic. But that’s not the kind of “brain food” I want to talk about today.
I’m talking about actual food. As in, if you want to write well, if you want to do your best work, then you have to eat.
It sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? But it’s a lesson it took me a while to learn, and it was an eye-opener. When I engage in a fiction writing marathon (usually thanks to a fast-approaching deadline), I find myself getting hungry more frequently than usual. I didn’t understand this at first. Why would writing — which requires almost no physical exertion — make me hungry? It sounds silly.
And yet it happens every time, without fail. I finally came to understand that engaging in the kind of deep concentration required for writing may not be physical exercise, but it’s exercise nonetheless. Your brain is a muscle like any other: use it more than usual, and it needs extra fuel. Fail to provide that fuel, and it won’t be able to function properly. If you’re not eating enough during a period of heavy writing, then what you’re writing won’t be very good. In a worst case scenario, you may not even be able to get the creative side of your brain into gear.
Yes, you run the risk of gaining a little weight by following this tip. But your mind is your body’s engine. And every engine needs fuel to run.
When a writer thinks of creating suspense, we often think of building tension through pacing and/or action. But there are any number of ways to build suspense — it’s less about what you portray and more about how you portray it. (The same goes for storytelling in general: it’s better to have a humdrum story idea that’s told brilliantly than to have the greatest story idea ever but execute it horribly.)
Here’s a perfect example. The clip above comes from the 2002 Tom Clancy movie, The Sum of All Fears. If you’ve never seen it, I’ll be straight with you: it’s not that great a movie. But this scene is utterly brilliant.
Sum was an attempted reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise with Ben Affleck taking over as a younger version of the main character (12 years before Chris Pine did the exact same thing). Ryan spends most of the movie attempting to track down a missing nuclear bomb, and this sequence, roughly in the middle of the film, is when his search comes to a head. He phones his boss — played by Morgan Freeman — to tell him that he has a lead on the bomb, which has recently been seen at a harbor in Baltimore. Unbeknownst to Ryan, Freeman’s character and the U.S. President himself are in Baltimore at that exact moment, attending a highly publicized football game.
Watch how the suspense builds when Freeman’s character slowly realizes what Ryan’s report means. What’s so fantastic about this scene is that it builds suspense in an atypical way. There’s no action, no explosions or gunshots, nor any other standard suspense tropes that we’re used to. Taken out of context, you probably wouldn’t even know anything is amiss at this football game. It looks like all American fun, business as usual. But the music and the expression on Freeman’s face sell the truth of the scene.
Obviously, movies and books are quite different, and novelists employ different tools to create suspense than filmmakers do. But this scene always inspires me as a writer because it creates exquisite, heart-pounding suspense in a completely outside-the-box way.