The wise men began their journey seeking Him with the appearance of His stars.
What is the felt need? What is the takeaway? And I don’t outline, so we’re on our own there.
I will confess I try to be normal. I know (yes, I’ve taught writing 101) that outlines are necessary. They give your writing foundation and they give a writer direction. Like a life lived without goals writing without an outline is just wandering, and when you reach the end…how do you know it’s the end, and how do you know where you’ve been?
I’ve had a number of critique partners. These are sometimes kind and sometimes not so kind people who read part of your stories and point out the good, the bad, and the ugly parts as they see them.
Being part of a writing community was my first experience at this critique thing, and having a novel-length manuscript my work needed to be submitted in increments of 2500 words at a time. That didn’t usually break chapter by chapter, but section by section.
One example began in the middle of a chapter and ended in the middle of the next chapter. I had asked for another critique so someone who wasn’t familiar with the story obliged, but one of her comments was, ‘there doesn’t seem to be much point here’.
I don’t know about romance novels, maybe there is a set of criteria, but for my mystery/detective books the point is drawn when you get to the takeaway.
On a similar critique (by another one-time critique person) after the first of the chapter began with a ‘tour of the downstairs’ of the house, the end of the chapter dealt with a conundrum the detective had whilst doing a quick scan through the rooms already dealt with during the previous writing. The person rendered the critique of their portion of the chapter with, ‘it would be nice to have a description of the house/rooms’.
The point is a story isn’t like poetry. Poetry tells a story in a few words, sometimes in a very few words, such as a Haiku. However, like poetry, there are short stories and there are epic length stories.
Another point is you won’t have an ending of the story without a beginning. I have for as long as my memory serves me found the time of the year from harvest time through Thanksgiving and into Christmas time to cover all the beauty and mystery of the ages.
Some Christians say we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. It’s a holiday rooted in pagan beliefs that the Catholics hijacked to meet their needs. What can I say here—I don’t deny this, and I don’t condemn or condone it either.
Their point is that God tells us to ‘remember Jesus death on the cross, his burial, and resurrection’ every Lord’s Day; which we do when we partake of the Lord’s Supper.
But does taking a time—any time to remember the birth of Jesus wrong? The angels sang at the birth of Jesus. The shepherds were told of the birth and decided to go see and worship this wondrous happening announced by the angels. The wise men began their journey seeking Him with the appearance of His stars.
Yes, many people prefer the babe in the manger and many are offended by the Savior on the cross. The Savior on the cross is a call to repentance; a call to take up your cross and follow…
And the last point of course is without the babe in the manger we wouldn’t have the Savior on the cross. We wouldn’t have the ending of the story without the beginning of the story.
8 And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.
9 And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people:
11 for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.
15 And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.
17 And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child.
18 And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds.