Make Your Words Hit the Heart!
In this blog post, my good friends, Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller, share a technique for aiming your words straight to the heart of the reader. Check out what they have to say, and at the end of this post, we’ll tell you how you may be able to win a free copy of their latest book. — Dave Fessenden
How can words, which are read with the mind, touch the heart? That’s the challenge for any author: both fiction and non-fiction. And that was certainly the challenge for my husband and I as we wrote our book Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers).
The reason? Our non-fiction book is about encouraging and equipping Christians to become more holy! But we wanted to encourage holiness at the heart, not only in behavior. Because of counseling and being open to God revealing the hidden—and often sinful—motives of our hearts, we were having a heart change. And we wanted that for others.
But how to touch our readers’ hearts with words?
We found the answer in sharing stories. Yes, we included Bible instruction and practical ideas but we knew we needed “story” to impact the heart. And so we shared our own stories—and those of others—in powerful, fiction kind of techniques. We remembered how to do that using a DEA acrostic:
D: description and dialogue. Give descriptive details of the setting and people. Write out the dialogue.
E: emotion: how are you and other characters feeling?
A: action: include body movements, setting changes, character reactions.
Let me give you an example from our book.
I, Larry, was taking a walk with Kathy recently and she asked me, “Honey, remember how you mentioned that you rarely prayed before a potentially dangerous situation that you faced as a police officer? Why do you think you didn’t pray?”
I paused and stroked my beard. “Well, I would pray for the safety of other officers but frankly I never gave a thought about praying for myself. I was so confident in my training and decision making skills that I believed I was prepared for anything.”
Kathy looked curious. “That seems a little presumptuous. Could your prayerlessness be tied to your first acting role?”
(For the sake of word count, I won’t give all of the interaction but Larry recalled how as a junior higher he had all-consuming stage fright in a play and stood mute on the stage stopping the play. As a result, he vowed to never be out of control again so that his weakness wouldn’t be exposed.)
Then we pick up the story:
I turned to Kathy and my voice raised because I knew an “ah-ha” moment was coming. “I was presumptuous because I was terrified. I falsely believed there was no room for God in those crisis situations. My training, skill, and mastery over my job just took charge. I spent my entire life honing that strategy of depending upon myself to prevent any weakness from being exposed.”
We continued chatting and the puzzle pieces fell into place. “I realize now that anything that threatened my image must be handled by the only one I really trusted: me! I left God out of the equation so that I could maintain control. Of course I would gladly pray for the protection of my peers. That cost me nothing. It didn’t make me look weak—only them!”
As we walked, headed for home, I felt a sense of sadness and repentance that my prayerlessness was rooted in a rebellious spirit that instinctively rejected anything that a sovereign God might place in my path. I exclaimed, “Oh honey, it’s a good thing I am redeemed!”
Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 50 books and has spoken in 31 states and 8 foreign countries. Kathy and her husband, Larry, have been married 44 years and he is a retired police lieutenant who also speaks and writes. Larry and Kathy speak often together and individually on a variety of topics. They live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com and www.KathyCollardMiller.com.
Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers) offers Christians hope that they can change their destructive patterns of behavior through identifying their sinful self-protective strategies and then being empowered to trust God instead. Their book includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction. It also provides discussion questions that can be used by individuals or groups. Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions at:
Would you like a free copy of Kathy and Larry’s book? Just leave a comment to enter the drawing, and “one lucky winner” will be sent a copy of Never Ever Be the Same!