Turn up the Music in Your Writing Style

Turn up the music in your writing style by Karen Jurgens

Lyrical writing is musical, like playing a piece on the piano. The words float along like poetry, creating a mood that sweeps the reader into a magical cloud. This technique is considered a gift, like plucking chords on a harp. But can it also be learned?

In my opinion, the best practice for acquiring and perfecting style is studying the Masters. Remember, the human brain learns from exposure and repetition. Visiting, revisiting, analyzing, and adapting desired techniques take years of study until those seeds become rooted in the soil of a creative soul.

As a former English teacher, I have spent a lifetime studying many authors’ works in-depth. Of all these, my favorites are John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

When I read Steinbeck, I can crunch grit between my teeth from the swirling Oklahoma dustbowl. I suffer on the hot, slow trip to California, which greets the Joads to the Land of Promise with despair instead of hope. How long can the oppressed struggle forward before they collapse in pathetic defeat? As a reader, I crawl, pant, and shed tears with the characters all the way to the last page.

Turn up the music in your writing style by Karen Jurgens

How can writers acquire such a powerful gift?

For an ultimate study of lyrical writing, I return repeatedly to Gatsby. During my former studies of the author’s life, I discovered just how Fitzgerald’s style adds layer upon layer to a written scene until it’s fertile with imagery that comes alive and dances in front of the reader. The author often states action in one simple sentence, followed by three or four with similes and metaphors, layering it all up, like cementing bricks together with the mortar of emotional imagery.

Turn up the music in your writing style by Karen Jurgens

Have you ever read a paragraph that took up permanent residence in your memory? Here’s an example of one of my favorites:

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor. (Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 8.)

As one example among hundreds, Fitzgerald’s words depicting his brilliant style sparkle like diamonds on a black velvet cloth, never to be forgotten.

Click to Tweet: …Fitzgerald’s words depicting his brilliant style sparkle like diamonds on a black velvet cloth…

How about you? Taking time to immerse yourself in the study of the lyrical style of one of the Masters will permanently enrich your soul and your writing.

Writing Prompt: Finish this line from The Great Gatsby using lyrical style.

The Late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like…


Karen Jurgens Author Photo

Karen Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. Since retiring from teaching, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, editor, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry. She blogs about scriptural answers to life’s trials at Touched by Him Ministries and writes for other Christian blogs. She is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Connect with her at Touched by Him Ministries , Writing Prompts blog,  HeartwingsBlog, Twitter,  Facebook Author page, Amazon Author page. Link to purchase A Perfect Fit.

 

 


A Perfect Fit by Karen JurgensFormally titled Desire’s Promise – Newly revised and expanded. Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.

She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense.

Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for in a Christian mate. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?

 

 

Research: The Inspired Prompt Way

Research. We’ve spent the month of March dissecting this topic from all angles. From how to start, to research on the road, and current events research, a way to gather information should be coming clear.

I’ve asked the Crew to share their go-to source when it comes to research. Here’s what they said:

Harriet Michael: As a Christian nonfiction writer who writes a lot of Biblical pieces—devotions and essays to a Biblical theme, my go-to resource is Bible Gateway where I can look up passages, do word searches, find commentaries, and find passages in all translations. Here is their link: https://www.biblegateway.com/

Jennifer Hallmark: Sometimes when I write, I just can’t think of the right word so I use an online thesaurus. Even if I don’t find what I need, it often gets my creativity flowing so I can move forward in my writing. Their link is http://www.thesaurus.com/

Kristy Horine: I find the Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org to be a great resource due to its interlinear concordance, cross references, language explanations, and access to commentaries. It has an app that is free that can be downloaded to your phone.  In addition, www.biblestudytools.com is helpful in the commentary area.

Another source is www.thoughtco.com. This is not a Christian-based resource, but it sure is fun for those strange and unusual questions like if brain cells regenerate, or the difference between racism and prejudice. It is based on the idea that we should be lifelong learners and seeks to teach just that. Plus, it has a really neat daily email you can sign up for. And, for numbers: www.barna.com and www.pewresearch.org

Betty Thomason Owens: I attended a class on researching at the Mid South Conference. The instructor gave us the Library of Congress website. It’s huge. You can find articles, photos, and lots of other interesting studies and stories and books. https://www.loc.gov/  I also love History.com  https://www.history.com/ and the Smithsonian.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.

Gail Johnson: I use the Bible, Webster’s dictionary, and the Strong’s Concordance. Also Bible Gateway and the online versions of the dictionary and thesaurus.

Bonita McCoy: I love  Biblehub.com because it gives you the verse in several translations. I use it for my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog. Also the good old library for articles for the Inspired Prompt site and my Courageous Writers blog.

Fay Lamb: My research varies on what the subject happens to be. If it is medical, I will look up medical research on various sites, but I also look for journals of people who have undergone medical procedures. I also use slang dictionaries for slang for certain times. I even have a surfers’ slang dictionary.

Tammy Trail:  I tend to look for historical societies. There is a blog I like to catch up with too, Colonial Quills. Lots of historical information there for me. I use the Colonial Williamsburg website also. For writing related information, I love Seekerville.

Carlton Hughes:  Like others, my research varies depending on the subject. I’m mostly writing devotionals now, so usually I’m searching for a specific scripture on Bible Gateway. Blogs like Novel Rocket are good for general advice on fiction writing.

Shirley Crowder:  I use Blue Letter Bible — lots of commentaries, words studies, etc. https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Karen Jurgens: I use Google for whatever I need to know when I’m writing about Paris and other parts of the world. I study maps of the city, and I use reference books I’ve purchased while visiting. For example, I bought lots of historical books and maps of Cayman Island when I vacationed there a couple years ago. I always write about settings I know personally or have visited.

Cammi Woodall: Started in September of 1998, Google is the world’s largest search engine. You know how I know that? I googled it! When you can use your search engine name as a verb, you know you are doing something right. I love other sites like AskJeeves.com or Yahoo.com, but I always come back to Google. In one research session, l learned that the world’s oldest church is the Dura-Europos house church in Syria, arsenic poison will still show up in your fingernails 6 to 12 months after ingestion, and a ten-gallon hat really only holds three-quarters of a gallon. Who knew? Google did! And now I do, too.

Thank you, Inspired Prompt Crew! As you can see, there are research sites galore for the fiction and non-fiction writer. Do you have a go-to site that’s not listed above? In lieu of a writing prompt, we’re asking you to share that in the comments below…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their go-to source when it comes to research for writers. #research #Google

3 Questions Wednesday with Karen Jurgens

Our guest today is author, Karen Jurgens.

Formerly one of our regular bloggers, Karen is now a guest contributor here at the Writing Prompts blog. It’s my honor to welcome her to today’s 3 Questions, and congratulations, Karen, on the release of A Perfect Fit.

Readers – she’s giving away a copy of A Perfect Fit – see details below!

And now for the first question:

What inspires you?

Karen:  Interacting with people face-to-face, especially with teens and young adults, inspires me. During my teaching career, I looked forward to each day because that age group is fascinating, and they taught me as much as I taught them. These days I love to hang out with my daughters and their friends. Just knowing that there are such great young people in the world inspires me to reach out with my stories of hope for their lives, with God as their helmsman.

You sound like a people-person and a wonderful example to your daughters. Next question–

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Karen: White would be my choice because of its significance in the Bible. Our sins are washed away white as snow in the blood of the Lamb. The Bride of Christ will be clothed in fine linen, clean and bright. The armies who accompany Jesus at His return are clothed in fine linen, white and clean, and follow Him on white horses. It’s the color of purity, innocence, and goodness.

I love that, Karen. White is color in its most pure form. It’s the color of perfection–what a great choice. Now, one last question:

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Karen: I always wanted to be a teacher. As soon as I could hold a piece of chalk in my hand, I lined up my dolls in rows in front of my blackboard and taught them everything from basic arithmetic to reading. As “Teacher of the Day” in the third grade, I vividly remember dressing up and borrowing my mother’s orange beaded bracelet for the occasion. I wrote multiplication problems on the big board for the class to copy and work out. That evening, I felt so important grading their papers! I was permanently hooked.

What a cute story! (And inspiring, too). Karen, thanks so much for being our guest on today’s 3 Questions Wednesday. READERS, she has a new release, A Perfect Fit–which is actually a re-release, revised and expanded–you can read about it below. She’s giving away the e-book version here, so leave a comment to be included in the drawing. And feel free to ask Karen a question about her writing, teaching, etc.! And thanks for stopping by.

[Don’t forget to leave us a comment below to be included in the drawing]


Living in Texas for more than 30 years has been an adventure, but Karen still proudly claims her Cincinnati roots. She spent her career as a high school English and French teacher and will always be a lifelong learner. She loves everything French, especially creating gourmet cuisine for birthdays and holidays, and you will likely find French culture and language in whatever she writes.
She began a new ministry, Touched by Him, where she blogs monthly. Her passion is to share answers from God’s Word about life’s trials and to incorporate those answers into her fiction stories, especially written for women seeking God’s best in marriage.
Her greatest accomplishment has been raising two lovely daughters who are now grown and living out their own adventures. Along with her mother who is now 95, the four of them enjoy fun times together shopping, dining out, and traveling.

Click to Tweet: Karen Jurgens is a teacher, a minister, a writer, who loves to #travel and create #gourmet #cuisine. Catch her today on the Writing Prompts blog via @inspiredprompt


A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens

Formerly titled Desire’s Promise – Newly revised and expanded.

Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.

She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense.

Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for in a Christian mate. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?

Website: https://karenjurgens.com

Fb Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/TheKarenJurgens

Twitter: https://twitter.com/karenha00661653

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/karen-harrison-52aa4071

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenh2000/

Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/karenjurgens

A Perfect Fit Link: https://www.amazon.com/Karen-Jurgens/e/B016CXTOOG

The Wedding of the Ages

The Wedding of the Ages by Karen Jurgens

 

I never met a girl…

who didn’t dream of her future wedding day. And I’ve rarely read a sweet romance that didn’t end with a radiant bride on that special day. What is the source of this inspiration?

The dream begins…

with a handsome groom standing at the church altar, looking toward the back doors. The music swells, and the processional begins. After the bridesmaids have taken their places, his beautiful bride steps down the aisle, adorned in gleaming white on the arm of her father. Her veil and long train compliment her gown, styled to accentuate her figure to perfection as she marches in step with the music. He receives her hand from her father’s, and together the couple turns toward the minister to take their vows–to love and to cherish until parted by death. After the exchange of rings, their vows are sealed with a kiss. Their new life begins with a celebration meal—simple or elaborate—followed by cutting the wedding cake.

Today’s traditions

have evolved over time, but two thousand years ago, they were very different. The bride waited at home, dressed and ready because she didn’t know at what hour of the day or night her fiancé would arrive. When he appeared, he carried her off to his home where they would be joined in marriage. Afterward, a huge celebration with a feast might continue for days.

Inspiration for happily-ever-after…

originates from God, who performed the first wedding in the Garden of Eden. However, if you’ve decided my favorite book of the Bible is Genesis, you’re wrong. Here are some more hints:

7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.” ~ Revelation 19:7-9, NASB.

The wedding of the ages…

is about to take place in the near-future, and we, the church, are the bride. As we await our groom to take us away to His heavenly kingdom, we are dressed and ready to meet Him in the air. Imagine…bedecked in our righteous acts of dazzling-white linen, we will walk down the aisle on the arm of our Father God. He will give us away to His Son, Jesus Christ, to be His bride. After our vows and exchange of rings, we will receive a new name written on our foreheads, sealed forever as the bride of Christ, followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb. What a feast that will be!

Have you read…

 the book of Revelation? There is a promise of blessing attached.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near ~ Revelation 1:3, NASB.

Although this final book is full of God’s judgment on a sinful world, the story ends victoriously for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Jesus is revealed as King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our groom with whom we will live happily-ever-after in God’s kingdom.

Could a love story have a better ending? 

Click to Tweet: The wedding of the ages…Could a #lovestory have a better ending? Fav book of the #Bible

Writing Prompt: The story you’re writing ends with a happily-ever-after wedding. What will be your final line (or paragraph)?

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The Most Adorable Dogs Ever

By Karen Jurgens

Growing up, I developed allergies to everything clothed in fur and feathers. That basically meant no horseback riding and no indoor pets. But there was one bright spot. The doctor said I might tolerate a French poodle.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens francois

My family’s first poodle was a silver toy named François. He was a grumpy little guy who endured my affection but preferred to lie in my dad’s arms while he sat at the kitchen table and read the newspaper. After my mother chose to have his glands surgically removed, the poor little thing caught a staph infection and eventually had to be put down.

My dad took his death very hard. So hard, in fact, that we promptly found a new puppy.  Our second was a black toy we purchased from a show breeder in Lexington, Kentucky. With his jet-black coat and long legs (the reason why he couldn’t be a show dog), we named him Bojangles—Bobo for short.

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Having Bobo pacified my dad, but this sweet boy was utterly devoted to my mother and she to him. He traveled everywhere with my parents, by plane or car. He later developed a quirky security attachment to one of my mother’s purses, so she let him sleep next to it. When they stayed in a hotel, Bo knew that his mommy would be back because he had her purse.

But that wasn’t the cutest part. He also had a baby blanket he carried everywhere he went. When it was time for bed, he would snatch it and prance upstairs to my parents’ bedroom where he usually slept. After a few rounds of chasing his favorite squeaky toy, “Mousie,” he would be ready to cuddle on his blanket and go to sleep.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

At the age of twelve, little Bo lost his hearing and his eyesight. Understandably, he developed severe anxiety. To help relieve it, the vet scheduled him for cataract surgery. That morning, the anesthetic affected his heart and halted the operation, and he died the next day, on Thanksgiving Day.

Many sad years passed without a poodle in our family. But when my daughters were very young, the right time came to add a new pet.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens betty-with-cait-at-bedtime

Babette was a large white toy, and like the others before her, quite beautiful. Although not nervous or high-strung, Babette developed a territorial nature that had to be controlled. She was born with the propensity to snap before she thought, so we all had to handle her carefully to avoid being bitten. I was her “handler,” understanding her body language the best. Whenever I bathed and groomed her, I always knew she had had enough when she gave that warning growl. We always listened and left her alone—except once. When she snapped at my nose as I kissed her head, that was the last time I ever lavished her with casual affection.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens betty-on-couch

But she certainly possessed her adorable moments. One Christmas Eve she stayed up all night guarding the presents around the tree as if they all belonged to her. So, on every Christmas and birthday, she also had to have her own presents. We would loosely wrap up chew bones and squeaky toys, and while my daughters opened their presents, Babs would open hers, chewing and tearing off paper until she reached her gifts. Afterward, she would guard them for days, and we knew better than to bother her.

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My daughters both took piano lessons, and Babette absolutely loved to listen to them play–so much so, that she would sit on the cushion with Cait while she practiced.

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When she was younger, she tolerated being put into doll cradles and strollers. She also loved to watch the girls swim but refused to ever get in the pool herself.

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At the age of almost fifteen, her health began to go downhill. Like Bo, she developed heart trouble, but in her case, she died peacefully at home on her favorite ottoman. My mother had recently had her groomed, so she was absolutely beautiful in death. We still have a tuft of her fur that her groomer had packaged inside a glass Christmas ornament years earlier. Every December, we still lovingly hang it on our tree.

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We haven’t adopted another poodle since our sweet Babette, and it has been an empty eight years. However, we do plan to look for a new puppy this summer. Again, it’s time!

Writing Prompt: The most adorable thing about my dog/cat is …

This will be my last regular post for Writing Prompts. I regret having to say adieu, but I will still be around as a guest blogger from time to time. Many thanks, Jennifer and Betty, for an enjoyable and adventuresome two years. I have been truly blessed to be part of the Writing Prompts Crew.