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  • Writer's pictureMark

What Do I Put In?

One of the hardest things about writing a story is what to put in. I’ve heard “experts” say that most of the time a new writer’s beginning should be what they have as Chapter Three. Don’t think that’s a hard rule, it’s a statement indicating a lot of backstory isn’t needed. The “start” might be Chapter Three, or half-way through the first chapter, or ninety pages in, but it’s the idea. When I was in journalism classes we called it “burying the lead.”

In a book I wrote (coming out soon, if it’s not already), there were whole scenes I removed. Michael Grambic had a date with a detective, Jessica James. But the scene added nothing to the plot so it was removed.

SIDEBAR: I think that’s why most TV, movies, and books are so predictable. If a scene is included it pertains to the plot, so when we see someone dropping a plate - which breaks to pieces - there’s probably a reason. The protagonist will need that shard which was never swept up.

So when Linda and I were watching a sermon on Nehemiah, the pastor was talking about building the wall around Jerusalem. They weren’t professional wall builders. There were bakers, sheep shearers, and people from every walk of life helping put up that wall.

I turned to Linda and said, “If I were preaching that sermon I’d have to mention that the people building that wall were living in the section where they worked on the wall. If the wall fell, they’d be the first ones attacked and killed.” I extended the logic to our life as Christians that if we didn’t help put up the walls of faith we’d be among the first destroyed by our Adversary.

The thing is, that wasn’t the point of the sermon. To include that train of logic would have added another five or more minutes. To a non-Christian, the forty minutes would already seem too long.

SIDEBAR: When I was going through confirmation I timed my pastor’s sermons. They were within a few seconds of ten minutes every time. These days if I don’t get a half-hour I feel cheated.

So like a good TV show a pastor has to decide what goes in and what gets chopped. The bible is so full of interconnections any particular section of one book can hook up to any number of other passages. To me, that’s one of the reasons I think the bible MUST have been inspired by God. No human could have set that up, and these books were written across thousands of years. Job, back in the days of the Patriarchs, is thought to be the earliest written, Revelation the latest.

There’s a joke about a girl who told someone “bible” is really an acronym for Basic Information Before Leaving Earth. Leaving a part of it out would be a tragedy, but adding more in isn’t really needed. It’s BASIC information.

So let’s extend this out a bit. What is the latest news story that has everyone in an uproar? As I’m writing this it’s about the Canadian Freedom Convoy. This matters only as far as people put their trust in others. To me, though it matters a great deal, that’s like saying a spelling error detracts from my favorite book - that is, not really all that much.

Frank Herbert’s Dune is among those favorites. There are pages in my copy where the print is just slightly smaller than the majority of the book. It makes me wonder why that happened, but in the totality of that novel it doesn’t matter one whit. The genius of the book isn’t impacted by the font size on page ninety-seven.

The same could be said of the Freedom Convoy and the Canadian government’s reaction to it. In God’s masterpiece of Eternity, it doesn’t really mean that much. When this all comes to a close, the news stories of today won’t really matter. That’s not to say we shouldn’t pray about day-to-day events, but keep in mind Christians put their faith and trust in Christ. Even the best of people will eventually let you down.

If someone doesn’t follow Christ, they won’t even make the deleted scenes section - not even the bloopers. They’ll end up on the cutting room floor.

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