Butterfly Briefs

6/21/2018 2:32:00 PM by: Leona Choy

In the heat of passionate writing, your manuscript may stretch longer and longer. Virtual smoke seems to be coming from your fingers as they fly over the keyboard.

Should you keep going? Is this wonderful idea on its way to be a book? Or should you shorten it? Perhaps cut it into pieces and do a blog series? Or give it a big squeeze and condense it into a short story?

Let's personify an idea as it comes to you. It is quite naked.  As a writer, you need to creatively “clothe” it.  Problems arise when you try to convince the idea to wear virtual long pants when virtual short pants would be more appropriate.

You may try in vain to force an idea to become a book when it would be much happier dressed in shorts—a feature article in a magazine, a short story, a guest post, an online piece, an editorial, newspaper column or a blog post.

Perhaps it would look better as many pairs of shorts of different colors and styles slanted for various publications.

Be realistic. Does your idea really have enough substance to carry you through an entire book manuscript? Is there a market for it.

Or the other hand, prepare for surprises. Especially when God is in it, which is a given for the Christian who is a writer.

While in the process of clothing your idea in shorts, you may discover that several short articles are beginning to connect and could morph into chapters of a book. One book of many chapters may come from what were previously separate or short stories, if the right adhesive is applied by a creative writer to bind them together.

In my ten years as a blogger, I wrote a considerable number of posts on related themes each with a fresh hook and slant. For several of my recently published inspirational books, I “stitched the shorts together” with a compatible theme. With considerable editing, I published them as full-length books. The formerly abbreviated stand-alone posts eventually appeared in long designer jeans.

In another of my books, I used an interview format for twenty-four chapters imagining dialogue with prominent Christian leaders of the past century. I allowed them to “answer” my plausible planted questions based verbatim on their writings and collected them under a common theme titling the book, The Life-Changing Power of the Holy Spirit. Each chapter was dressed in its appropriate shorts.

After the book was published, one of the persons (chapters) began to “speak out” and ask for a change of clothing—he demanded, as it were, long trousers instead of abbreviated shorts.  During my research I accumulated more than enough fascinating material to propose a new book project to a publisher based on the noted person that chapter offered. The single short chapter turned into an extensive biography of Dr. Andrew Murray, a well-known missionary statesman of the nineteenth century. In fact, I became accepted as his “authorized biographer.” After wearing shorts, his chapter changed clothes and wore long trousers.

As writers, we don't always know immediately how to clothe an idea when it comes strolling into the edges of our minds. It is critical to success in writing to know the long and the short of the material at hand. Or anticipate that its attire might change as time goes by.

We learn by experience when to muster up the courage even to discard an idea entirely and move on. Sometimes an idea that we think is grandiose turns out not to be suitable either for book length or a short article.

Your bright idea might simply be happy wearing a pair of short-shorts—like a simple, creative poem?

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