Sunday, March 12, 2017

Passive Voice

Thank you ACFW for publishing my post Passive Voice on your blog, 3/12/2017. #WritingTips #Christian #Author #ACFW #EyesOfANeighbor    Enjoy!

Passive Voice

by Lynn Hobbs
Years ago I began attending writing workshops. My first encounter with passive voice left me undecided.
Did I care about passive voice? Was this merely someone’s preference in writing? What did it matter, anyway?

Was this something I’d eventually learn through trial and error?
It certainly didn’t interfere with the show don’t tell method of writing. Or did it?
I was not a learned writer at the time. I was an avid reader. Once I was knee deep into a story, I didn’t care about adverbs, passive voice, or justified margins. I knew a good book when I read one, and I read it as fast as I could. I recommended the book to others, gave a review on Amazon, and waited for more books from the author. I was a happy reader. No knowledge of don’t end a sentence in a preposition, or don’t use an exclamation mark but, at the most, three times in one book.
Don’t, don’t, don’t was jotted in my notes more than any other word.
Naturally, I decided it must be a personal preference of the workshop speakers not to use passive voice. I still couldn’t understand what difference it made in the story.
As an author, I continued to grow, learning more at writing workshops, and kept an open mind.
The following year, I attended an online workshop…from a well-known author. His first topic was not to use passive voice.
I was shocked. Hmm, must be something to it, after all.
I suddenly had my ah-ha moment!
Mind-boggling. It had nothing to do with narrative. I realized it was more important to dialogue.
If you write, “I was hurrying into the store;” you are telling not showing. “I was” is passive voice. If you write, “I parked my car in the closest parking spot. Locking it, I ran to the store minutes before they closed.” Showing is not in passive voice.
Readers relate to more vivid descriptions. They want to see it in their mind through imagination. A short sketch is all that is required. Yes, you need something to propel your story forward, but not drag it into an unnecessary paragraph with flowering words. Brief, and to the point.
I finally got it.
Here are examples:
1. Bob was exhausted. (Telling: Bob was exhausted, and written in passive voice.)
2. Bob yawned, and closed his eyes as he leaned back in the recliner. (Showing: how Bob is exhausted, and not written in passive voice.)
The reader will enjoy the second version as it will allow them to picture the scene for themselves.
Another example:
1. I had to drive to Houston, Texas for a job interview. (Telling, and written in passive voice.)
2. Waking earlier than normal, I splashed cold water on my face, drank hot coffee, and drove alert to Houston, Texas for my job interview. (Showing, and not written in passive voice.)
Learning the craft of writing is a daily process.
Enjoy, and happy writing!
Lynn HobbsLynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series: Sin, Secrets, and SalvationRiver Town, and Hidden Creek, and won 1st place Religious Fiction in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Texas Association of Authors. She is also the author of Lillie, A Motherless Child won 1st place Biography 2016, TAA, and the American Neighborhood Series: Eyes of a Neighbor. Visit Lynn on FacebookTwitter, and her website.
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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Inserting Spontaneous Humor

Thank you, American Christian Fiction Writers for publishing my post, Inserting Spontaneous Humor on your website December 7, 2016.

Inserting Spontaneous Humor
Posted on December 7, 2016 by ACFW
By Lynn Hobbs

Have you ever read a Christian fiction book; either romance, suspense, or historical, and were amused by an unexpected sense of humor from one of the characters? I find it outstanding.
If you were to ask me what the hardest part of writing is that I have encountered, I’d have to reply inserting spontaneous humor. I have practiced, re-wrote, edited, and am still learning this style of humor.
As a Christian writer it can be a challenge to insert humor using a non-humorous character. Dry humor is a treasure, but if you are aiming for believable humor it should appear spontaneous.
  1. It creates a genuine character others can relate to.
  2. It shows character growth between characters.
  3. It can endear a character to readers who in turn expect the unexpected from that character, and experience a more enjoyable story.
In “Hidden Creek”, the third book in my Running Forward Series, I inserted humor in the most unexpected moment for one character, and it helped readers relate to that certain character. Ben and Izabella are one of the couples in the book. Ben is a rascal, and Izabella doesn’t believe they are legally married, but by adding humor to a tense situation; he became a lovable rascal.
“…but I want to talk to them.”
“…and I want to go back to Texas. We will not wait hours for the couple to return. Adious, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, shalom, au revoir, goodbye…”
Izabella put the car in reverse, and frowned.
You’re not funny…and you can’t play down the issue…
As a reader, having read the previous pages, Ben does display a side to his character not shown before. His attempt at humor makes the reader see him as not a silly character, but one who can slip out of a tense situation.
As a Christian writer, we all continue to learn our craft daily. I do admire a writer who can insert spontaneous humor with …in all appearance…complete ease. At times, it can be a challenge, but I personally love it!
In the book I am writing now, “Eyes of a Neighbor”, book one of the American Neighborhood Series, I played with the idea of a harmless UPS truck in a scary situation for one of the characters. Writing the scene was a total joy for me, and it did have an unexpected moment of humor.
I can remember, as a teenager, reading the stories by Alfred Hitchcock that began as typical daily events unfold for some average character. Hitchcock had little humor, if any at all. A reader became involved in his suspense, and toward the end of the story, he added a sly bit of humor. For me personally, now as a writer, it is the ultimate icing on the cake. As a Christian writer, we insert lessons, and values; creating each character and each book as carefully as a chef prepares a meal. Inserting humor can be a delicious slice of pie to that same chef.
I encourage you to experiment with adding spontaneous humor.
Happy writing!

Lynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series: Sin, Secrets, and SalvationRiver Town, and Hidden Creek, and won 1st place Religious Fiction in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Texas Association of Authors.
Lillie, A Motherless Child won 1st place Biography 2016, TAA.
Her books are available on 
Amazon. She is currently writing a new Christian Fiction series. Meanwhile, visit Lynn on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and her website.
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2 Responses to Inserting Spontaneous Humor
  1. Description: Ashby says:
This is great advice. How easy it is to follow probably depends on your own sense of humor. When I was growing up, my whole family delighted in the well-told joke and the sudden turn of phrase that could lighten even a serious topic. We raised our kids the same way, filling our house with chuckles and laughter.

If there’s an underlying joy in a character, it will bubble up spontaneously throughout the work. I love those kinds of characters, and I write them myself. Good-natured teasing and kind-hearted repartee are part of my debut novel, Forgiven, that just released, and there’s a character in my WIP who can’t resist using a snippet of humor to relieve tension even in a deadly serious situation.
Maybe the best way to train ourselves to write spontaneous humor is to use it often to brighten the days of our real-life friends.
  1. Description: Hobbs says:
I agree! We all enjoy a light unexpected chuckle in the midst of our daily routine, and if you are reading a book and experience this… I find it awesome! A welcomed surprise!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

No Profanity

Thank you, American Christian Fiction Writers for publishing my post, No profanity, on your website  blog on Oct. 23, 2016.

No Profanity

By Lynn Hobbs
About a month ago, I tried to read a book where every other word from the main character was a curse word. Annoying? Yes. It distracted me from the story…and I really liked the story. More important, I admired the author. Excerpts from the book had been placed on social media for weeks. Momentum mounted. I looked forward to the release of this new novel, and I would give a review.
After the first chapter, the main character not only cursed but cursed God and did it often. I put the book down.
How can that author justify such dialogue in a book? Sins Secrets and Salvation
How can they be proud of such a book?
True, some have told me it is necessary for an accurate description of that particular character–a violent criminal spitting out foul language.
I disagree.
In my opinion, other descriptions can be used and still have the desired effect without cursing… and especially without cursing God.
For example:
In the first book of my Christian Fiction, Running Forward series; Sin, Secrets, and Salvation…you are introduced to Susan Penleigh: a Christian wife unequally yoked to a non-Christian husband. He belittles her in public, verbally abuses her, and is controlling with her life. He doesn’t need cursing to stay in character. His actions speak louder than cursing.
I want to encourage you as Christian authors to not feel pressured by others who add profanity.
Stay true to your beliefs.
I do.
You will never find profanity in any books I write.
Oh, back to that author I had admired before the latest book was released.
I did give a review.
It remained on Amazon for half a day, and later disappeared.
I described how difficult it was for me to get past all the vulgar language. I’d lay the book down, and later read another page–only to be shocked at the character cursing God again. I had to stop reading it. I gave an account of how I did enjoy the part of the story I could read.
No, I was not being a prude.
I gave an honest review.
The author received over thirty reviews on release day. Other readers gave the book five star reviews and went in depth congratulating the author…even going as far to state they couldn’t wait for more…possibly a series.
Secular readers and authors do not notice what stands out like a sore thumb to Christian readers and authors.
How sad.
We, as Christian authors must continue writing with values, morals and integrity.
Who knows…someday, someone could pick up a Christian novel and learn a new way to live, or believe, or receive hope where they have none?
We are God’s vessels, and I give Him the glory for my writing.
I always pray for direction before I begin writing.
I pray for others as well.
Maybe, by being an example and by having our writing as a tool, a secular author may decide profanity doesn’t sound right in their book after all.
Lynn HobbsLynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series: Sin, Secrets, and SalvationRiver Town, and Hidden Creek, and won 1st place Religious Fiction in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Texas Association of Authors.
Lillie, A Motherless Child won 1st place Biography 2016, TAA.
Her books are available on Amazon. She is currently writing a new Christian Fiction series. Meanwhile, visit Lynn on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and her website.
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4 Responses to No Profanity

  1. I agree 100% with you. It is never necessary to include profanity. One can simply describe the scene and say, “He swore” and the reader gets the idea the character is bad. If a writer describes violence, abuse, or whatever, it’s not necessary to furnish the accompanying language. I do not appreciate any book with swearing throughout. I will, however tolerate one or two curse words–though I note their presence in any review. I think Christian authors have a duty to their readers to keep their books clean. Your post is excellent!
  2. Lynn Hobbs says:
    Thank you, Lou Ann Keiser! I appreciate you taking time to express your views and agree with me on this important issue. Yes, I too think it is a Christian authors duty to the readers to keep their books clean. Thanks again, and I’m glad you enjoyed my post.
  3. To me, cursing is lazy writing. It takes a lot more effort to show grit than to curse.
  4. Lynn Hobbs says:
    Thank you, Patricia Bradley for your comment. I agree…cursing is lazy writing. It does take a lot more effort to show grit than to curse…and creates a story we want to continue reading.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ACFW Posts Lynn Hobbs Submission, "A Brief Writing Experiment"on National Blog 6/22/2016

Thank you, American Christian Fiction Writers, for accepting and posting my submission to your blog on 6/22/2016.

A Brief Writing Experiment

By Lynn Hobbs
Learning new writing methods can be rewarding. I noticed several men writing a tighter style, and it did get my attention.
They mentioned more white space on a page drew readers from a younger generation.
What were they doing?
What happened?
Not any back story. Later in the book it could be introduced, but only a small part.
I have great respect for all three male writers. Each is well known, and I listen to their words of wisdom through blogs, newsletters, and writing conferences.
They happen to be men. So far, I have not noticed any female writers adopting this new style.
I was taught to delete extra words or unnecessary words. Who, what, where, when, and why should be near the beginning. The five senses should be used as often as possible. Don’t use many exclamation marks. Show your story, don’t tell it, and always continue to learn the writing craft. We learn from each other. That being said, I kept an open mind, and considered the new tighter writing style.
In their observation of the younger generation, it was pointed out that text messaging and tweeting were the norm. This generation of new readers and aspiring writers are not familiar with long flowing stories. They don’t have time for long stories. Their writing cuts through the chase and gets to the point.
Do we want them as potential readers to our genre?
Can we accommodate them without losing our own style of writing?
Our voice?
I believe we can.
Yes, I do text and tweet messages. I tried incorporating texting and tweeting into my style of writing, and it felt awkward. What a challenge! I decided to experiment and rewrite the first chapter of my new book using some of this method.
My first chapter went from eighteen pages to a total of twelve pages. I tightened more and deleted a lot. Final page count for my first chapter: six pages.
Did I lose any important information?
I spaced it out.
I didn’t give away details.
I saved them for later.
I wrote short sentences like I’m doing now.
Short and sweet.
One on top of the other.
It built suspense.
It created pages readers turned fast.
My paragraphs were what I refer to as normal. In between some of the paragraphs I’d branch out and sprinkle in a few short sentences.
More white space was created on the page as well as momentum. I have to admit I enjoyed locating the perfect spot to insert a few short sentences. Of course, I had already written the chapter, so it was more of an editing experience than a writing one for me.
Dialogue took on a whole new snappy approach.
Steve pivoted. “You leaving?”
“I thought…”
Stepping forward, Kate frowned. “Don’t assume.”
I usually don’t use a lot of tags but it worked for this example.
That’s the whole point.
Try something new.
It may work.
Happy writing!
Hidden CreekLynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series; a powerful faith and family saga.
Book #1: Sin, Secrets, and Salvation, awarded 1st place, Religious Fiction, 2013, Texas Association of Authors.
Book #2: River Town, 1st place, Religious Fiction, 2014, TAA.
Book #3: Hidden Creek, 1st place, Religious Fiction 2015, TAA.
Lillie, A Motherless Child, 1st place Biography 2016, TAA.
You can find Lynn on her website at,Facebook and Twitter
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Monday, June 13, 2016

Lynn Hobbs on Author Spotlight

Thank you, Barb Schlichting, for featuring me on the author spotlight of your blog, Barb's Books, on 6/11/2016!