Monday, December 7, 2015

Power up Christian writing with original ideas

By Ada Brownell
Before I married I observed a woman whose husband was having an affair and she had no clue. So I decided I would be unpredictable, especially because my husband worked until midnight. Some nights I’d be in bed when came home; other times I stayed up....

This first-person story has a lesson. The experience ended my suspicious fears and became an idea for an humorous article.

I am a Christian writer and ideas often come from time on my knees and then thinking, listening and looking. Like the first light bulb, said to be lightning in a tube, original ideas illuminate hidden truth

Humor is immensely popular with readers. You can make a story about something funny your pet did. Like our poodle afraid of a watermelon and kept barking at it. There’s a spiritual lesson there.
 The greatest source for humor is your own life. After all, when you tell on yourself you’re the only person offended by it. We all have embarrassing moments and those of pure stupidity. Editors use a lot of first-person point of view, and humor is made for it.

There’s nothing funny about some things happening these days.  So take the risk and tackle an unpopular opinion by using facts.. Do your research well, and  identify your sources.

My spirit has been outraged at the government giving kids birth control and morning-after pills and abortion without parental consent, giving youth the idea you’re expected to sin. I wrote an op-ed piece with the angle  “the government doesn’t know anything about love.” It was published in a daily newspaper.

 I related how schools, supported by local health departments and the Department of Education, in the 1960s proclaimed they would end teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases with sex education. For my op-ed piece, I quoted the latest Centers for Disease Control statistics that show 40.7 percent of all births now are to unmarried women. CDC estimates on sexually transmitted diseases show 20 million new infections each year, half among youth. There was more to the piece, including a testimony of how knowing God and His Word made a difference in our family. I’ve been married 62 years, and I and none of my seven siblings were pregnant before the wedding or had a child out of wedlock. The headline in The Pueblo Chieftain was “Love is more than many Americans think.”

There probably are Christian magazines that would publish the article. I often prefer to send a piece out among non-believers instead of preaching to the choir.
When you need ideas, Look at a subject from an unusual angle

If you’re a thinker, these ideas can come from questions such as “Why?” or looking at popular thought and reversing it.
Read  the news, letters to the editor, or television talk shows .

My op-ed piece on why The Ten Commandments are censored appeared as a Voice of the Day in The Springfield News Leader. I explain, “Our society is on a feeding frenzy of all things sinful. Hearing the commandments triggers guilt. So they ban the document.”

On July 29, my article “Why I am Christian” appeared in The Pueblo Chieftain. I wrote it as a different look at a poll by Pew Research Center that said the number of Christians in the United States has dropped significantly. But Pew reported seven out of 10 Americans still say they’re Christians, so I wrote a “why” article, and gave my testimony and showed how the world would be drastically affected without Christianity because of charity, hospitals, schools and universities founded, as well as disaster relief.. I put a different twist to it...
I used the Christmas season to grieve the 55 million babies aborted in our nation since Roe vs. Wade. I started with the grieving parents whose infants were killed by Herod trying to get rid of the Baby Jesus. The piece was published in The Chieftain. It brought a different look to Christmas and abortion.


Do your work well, and check the facts of the person you’re ghosting for. I found errors in two ghost articles I wrote from sermons of two different ministers, not associated with doctrine, but numbers. One was about pastors who quit the ministry; another about Take that Mountain, and it had the wrong number of mountain peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado. 

I’ve ghost-written articles for several pastors based on sermons. Many popular ministers use ghost writers, even Joyce Meyer and Chuck Colsen. Most preachers are speakers instead of writers. I’ve ghosted testimonies, such as I wrote for The Pentecostal Evangel about a woman’s father being instantly healed of blindness.
Cece Murphy, a frequent speaker at Christian writers’ conferences, is the ghost writer who wrote the best seller, 90 Minutes in Heaven, that became a movie.

I just ghosted an article about the flooding in Galena, MO, where God stopped water from rising in an answer to prayer during the June 2015 storms. I submitted the article to a book anthology about miracles.

Just a side note, you can find almost any facts you need online. Editors don’t consider Wikipedia a reliable source, and surprise! A lot of other polls aren’t accurate, either. I found a disturbing article that said 57 percent of Republicans would like to make Christianity the National Religion. Who wrote these articles? The leftist Huffington Post, supported by George Soros; the Atheist Channel; New Republic,  a leftist magazine; Progressive Secular Humanist; and on and on.

Truth is, if I know how things work, if these politicians made any comment close to what they’re talking about, I would guess pollsters asked if the Republicans wanted America to be a Christian nation., and they probably said yes. That’s a whole lot different from saying they want to establish Christianity as the U.S. religion. Any real Christian understands you don’t become a Christian through any law, or even parental urging. God gave free will to each of us and accepting Jesus as Savior ourselves is the only way to be a Christian. Be aware of this sort of misrepresentation of facts and keep yourself out of the muck. To know how to properly report on a subject you must first understand it, and unbelievers often don’t understand what it means to follow Christ.

If you want a poll to help you in your research, use Barna, Gallup, or Pew.


If you’ve had the question in your mind, probably other people do, too.
Years ago I wrote a story for The Pentecostal Evangel, “Are Christian marriages better?” and interviewed a Christian psychologist about the topic. He wisely said if a Christian couple obeys the biblical guidelines for how we should treat one another, they’ll have a good marriage. Then he added if non-christians treat one another with respect, the husband loves his wife as his own body, and they honor and love each other, they’ll have a good marriage. If Christians don’t obey the Word, they’ll have a lousy one.

About three years ago I sold “Are long-term marriages better?” to Mature Living. I found an attorney in Florida who specializes in divorces for people married more than 50 years. He agreed to an interview, and gave me some great quotes. I included a sidebar quiz based on scripture, titled “Are you a good marriage partner?”

Right now articles and books on “7 ways to do this or that” are extremely popular. Think about your expertise, knowledge or experience that you could share in this manner. I sold an article to the Free Methodist Evangel “7 Ways to Stretch Spiritually” as a New Year’s feature. Although 7 is the most popular number, 21 seems to be next, you can use others.


Interview a famous or outstanding person or someone with a unique testimony.
 You can do a profile from research, such as a biography. I sold a story years ago to Live about Billy Graham’s mother, Morrow Graham. She already was in heaven. I found the information in Graham’s biography

 In conclusion, keep a list of ideas. When the list grows, divide it into topics and possible markets. Keep paper and pen handy, and don’t wait to write your ideas down. When you wait, even if you don’t forget it, you lose the reason why you were so enthusiastic about it in the first place. Usually it’s impossible to regain that enthusiasm. As soon as you can, write your hook and basic thoughts about where you intend to go with the idea, and complete the piece.

Then send an editor a query letter.

 Jesus said “ I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). 

Copyright  Ada Brownell 2015

Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six books, about 350 stories and articles in Christian publications, and she spent a large chunk of her life as a reporter, mostly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. A Bible student since her teens and a youth educator, she also taught Bible and science; courses from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict; and other faith-building courses. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.
Among her books: The Lady Fugitive, a finalist in the 2015 Clash of the Titles Laurel Award; Imagine the Future You, a youth/parent Bible study;.Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, a novel for middle grade up; Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, includes evidence we’re more than a body; Facts, Faith and Propaganda, a book that unmasks propaganda as well as reveals amazing truth; and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but released in 2012 for Kindle; Most books are available in paper or for Kindle. Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at  Free book with new Audible membership.
Amazon Ada Brownell author page:
Twitter: @AdaBrownell