Monday, 27 May 2019

How To Avoid Writing Stereotypes Like A Superhero: Endgame Edition

 WARNING: Article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame!
Originally posted on The Independent Initiative

It’s no surprise, Marvel knows how to make movies that move us and leave us with all the feels. I’m ecstatic to talk about one of their best films, Endgame, and how to avoid writing stereotypes like the pros.

It’s gonna be a good one for us because I want to talk about why being a stereotype can be good, and how to use it well and still break out of it.

When it comes to writing a superhero screenplay Marvel is good at using many of the tricks and tips that can be found with a quick google search ...

  1. Make your hero likeable, give them a set of rules with their ability, and never break them
We like Iron Man, Cap, Thor, and all the others, and each one follows a set of rules. Stark has his suit and smarts, Cap is inhumanly strong and lives by a high standard of old-school morals, and Thor has lightning running through his veins because he’s the god of thunder.
  1. Give the hero a villain who is more powerful than them
Thanos is a worthy villain, he’s more powerful than our heroes and if that wasn’t enough, he’s got a huge army that outmatches anything our heroes can provide.
  1. Give the hero a happy ending, one in which they discover they and their ability are the answer to the problem
In the end, we get our almost happily-ever-after ending. Even with a few hard deaths, there’s still hope for the future, and it was only possible when our heroes realise they are the answer to the problem of Thanos. 

Marvel follows the rules, BUT they also know how to make those stereotypes into something unique, and they do this by giving our heroes faults, quirks, and vices. AND they flip the whole concept of Story on its head right from the beginning of Endgame. There are 3000 amazing ways they do this, but I want to focus on two.

Let’s start with this major spoiler for the beginning of the film. Here’s me, sitting in the cinema, fully engaged in the story, when our Avengers discover exactly where Thanos is. Our heroes band together to head out to space and take the villain down. 

And they do. 

Without much fuss or fighting. 

Thor knocks Thanos’ head off within the span of a few seconds, and my jaw dropped.
Where were they gonna take the rest of the film? Would they jump into the multiverse and take down every Thanos in every reality? What was the big play? And how the heck were they going to get the infinity stones to reverse what happened at the end of Avengers: Infinity War?

Having Thanos’ death right at the beginning gave us a more complicated story to follow, which made it captivating. Three hours of story was easy to watch.

This is a great inspiration to break the stereotype: What can you do with your story to shake the audience up and avoid the normal journey a film takes? 

To do this well, you need to know story inside and out. Study everything you can about the art of storytelling and then, using your imagination, find a way to stay within the rules, but make it look like you’re breaking them. 

This is exactly what they do with Thanos’ death, they didn’t really break the rule because they end up fighting him again at the end - just like a normal narrative - but it’s definitely with a great twist. The Avengers fight a slightly younger Thanos who hasn’t had the experience of messing with their world as much as the previous version. But because Thanos doesn’t know our heroes as well as the other older Thanos, he’s relying more on a future yet to happen, which in turn makes him like a baby scorpion, super extra dangerous, because he doesn’t know when to stop. Thus the line to the Avengers about them not learning from their failure, so I’m (Thanos) just gonna have to end the whole world now, instead of only half.

This was such a brilliant move. Something I’ve NEVER seen happen to a superhero. We’ve seen superheroes having a bad day or year in tv shows like The Umbrella Academy, or DC’s Watchmen, but never have I seen a superhero experience such trauma from a failure like we get in Endgame

It’s just so epic. 

Of course, Thor would be riddled with shame and guilt. Half the universe - not just earth, the UNIVERSE - is gone because he aimed for Thanos’ heart instead of going for the villain's head. 

He blames himself for millions and trillions of deaths and because of his many travels to different worlds, he knows better than most of our Avengers, the extreme number of people who are gone. I can’t even imagine the weight he’d be carrying from that, so to make him a drunkard who’s let his body slip into a state of decay makes total sense, but it’s never something we expect to see.

And the best part is he remains this way for the whole film, there’s no quick ‘get fit now’ montage, he has to live with his consequences through the entirety of the film, and it reflects in his lack of ability to get the job done. Giving us not only a great character arc and unique look at a superhero but also a glimpse of the reality of life choices. 

If you find yourself writing a superhero that you’ve seen many times, how can you flip their experiences to make something unique and original? How can you ground that character into reality, while still maintaining their superhero feats? 

Watching Fat Thor go through a gamut of emotions, I found myself wishing I’d written a character like it. He’s a complicated mess, but he’s still written with simplicity. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely follow the old cliche “Keep It Simple Stupid”, even while their story is full of intricacies, they know when and how to keep it simple. 

Watching films like Avengers: Endgame with a critical eye can improve your own writing. What character’s journey made you cry? What was it about their dialogue that appealed to your emotions? What about the story made you confused? What took you out of the film? What engaged you most? What little quirks did the characters have that worked? What didn’t work? What about the villain appealed to you? What didn’t? What twists and complications worked? 

These questions and more can help give you an education on writing your own powerful and compelling screenplays, and will definitely help you avoid those cliches and stereotypes. 

What were some of your favourite moments from Endgame where they avoided the stereotype? Leave a comment below for the rest of our film community to learn from you too; now get out there and write!

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Why write true stories of faith?

by May-Kuan Lim

Why write true stories of faith?

When I was a young mum in New Zealand, our family kept a small cardboard box on the dining table. We would write down instances of answered prayer and keep the scraps of paper in the box.

One day, my three-year old son lost his Thomas the Tank Engine toy train. We prayed for it, and he later found it under his bed. I probably wrote down his words for him – don’t think he could write then. Now, about seventeen years later, I think back and remember words to the effect of, ‘I looked under my bed and saw the train engine face glowing.’

It would be easy to dismiss this story as childish. That’s not God answering prayer; that’s looking for stuff. Everybody does it, whether you are a praying person or not, whether God exists or not. Sometimes you find stuff and sometimes you don’t.

But is there more to that story than finding a toy train? Were my son and I learning to turn to God in time of need and so to acknowledge God? Did the act of writing imprint that small incident in our minds as a reminder of God with us?

In the Old Testament, Jacob fled from his father’s house because his brother Esau wanted to kill him. In the dessert, Jacob dreamt of angels and of God. When he woke up, Jacob built an altar to God and said, ‘Surely God is in this place and I knew it not.’ If we were to examine our lives, perhaps there have been many instances when God was with us and we knew it not at the time. Perhaps we have many stories of faith yet untold.

A call-out to all writers from Stories of Life

I am writing this guest post as a member of the Stories of Life team. Stories of Life is a writing competition that seeks to share and celebrate true stories of faith and testimony. Submissions are accepted from 1 April to 31 July. The categories are:
  • · Tabor Open Stories of Life (1000 to 1500 words, AUD10 entry fee)
  • · Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life (up to 500 words, AUD 10 entry fee)
  • · Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life (500 – 1000 words, for writers below the age of 17, free to enter)
First, second and third cash prizes are awarded in each category. Our 2019 judges are: Simon Kennedy (Open), Kit Densley (Short), Ruth Bonetti (Young).

Selected stories will also be published in the annual Stories of Life anthology. Since 2016, we have published 129 short stories. Some of these stories will be broadcast on radio in Adelaide, and published on our Stories of Life website.

Contributors at the 2018 Stories of Life book launch

What we are looking for.

The genre of writing sought is narrative non-fiction, also called creative non-fiction. That is to say, we encourage creativity. All literary devices used by fiction writers may be used to enable to reader to vicariously experience what it was like when God revealed himself to you (or someone else – you can write another person’s story with his or her permission).

A child might pray about and write of toy trains found under small beds. As we grow up our concerns change: from existential questions to personal challenges, from local concerns to big issues. We know that we haven’t fossilised into old age as long as we can still see and respond to what goes on around us, whether in grief, mirth, despair, or wonder.

For the writer, part of that response is usually to write. The act of writing sharpens our observations and clarifies our thinking. Unlike news reporting, narrative non-fiction requires the writer to interpret what has happened. This may be subtle and brief, but the writer’s worldview will be evident through the story telling. Interpretation requires honest reflection and may require opening some of the most vulnerable parts of our soul to others.

It is not without risk to write in this way, but the potential pay-offs are manyfold. We are strengthened in our faith. We encourage others, often regardless of their faith position, because stories that reveal deep truths resonate with the human soul. If art is a form of worship – and for writers stories are our art form – then to write is to worship.

As the apostle Paul wrote, we have different gifts according to the grace given to each one of us. If it is writing, let us write. Even if non-fiction is not the genre you usually operate in, may I ask you to consider writing a true story of faith and testimony and sending it to us? We would love to hear from you.

Key dates:

  • · 6 June - registration closing date for our Editing Workshop
  • · 13 June - Editing Workshop 13 June. Participation via Skype supported.
  • · 31 July - Closing date for submissions
  • · October – stories selected for publication announced
  • · November – prize winners announced at the 2019 Stories of Life book launch

May-Kuan Lim is a freelance writer who is publishing her book, Refuge, as a serial online release. It is a collection of true stories of people who have resettled in Australia since the Vietnam War. She is a member of Writers SA and Oral History Australia. She also runs Ethical Storytelling workshops, does the laundry and cooks dinners. It is a varied life.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Words that Change the World

by Pamela Heemskerk

It seems the fame of the legendary Quirky Quills has spread beyond Toowoomba, and even Queensland.

How little I realised back then, how much impact a supportive group can have on developing your writing gift. Some of us were rank novices to writing—lacking courage to even show our cat what we had written; others were, like the Man from Snowy River, fast becoming a household name.

I was talking to Mazzy, one of our QQ, recently, and she said QQ was like her ‘church’—a place of love, care and nurturing of gifts. It reminded me of the parallel between our walk with the Lord and developing as scribes. As the Quills met, with encouragement, teaching and nagging (what was that word?), along with some serious hand-holding, we sent off works to anthologies, devotionals, and even competitions. And some were accepted!

Showing your writing is like baring your soul. I felt so vulnerable, writing from the heart, and then exposing it. Scary. Yet from this, I learnt that others related to my experiences. I learnt about taking risks, stepping out. And I learnt resilience—that first rejection … Ow! And then the second … And then a few more …

As I grew as a writer, I grew as a person. I learnt to persevere, to motivate myself, to be disciplined and to take responsibility for developing my craft—just as I have learnt to take these same steps in my walk with God. He is my source of inspiration, directs my writing goals, and stretches me (ouch), to show how much I can achieve when I work in partnership with Him.

Although I am yet a relatively new writer, I am past coddled eggs and milk in my own journey. I have wanted to give back to the writing community. When I renewed my 2019 Omega membership, I again saw the motto, and this prompted me to continue meeting with other writers in our locality.

Now, as a person with a hearing impairment, I am well aware of the effect words have when they are received; and the lack of effect, or even the negative effect, when they are not received. Sometimes I don’t hear important things; sometimes I miss out on a crucial part of the conversation and it leaves me bewildered and unable to follow. Lost words have no impact on my life; worse they can have a negative impact because I missed hearing something really important that would have made a difference.

I figured that if I was having trouble with using hearing aids, then there’d be others. My struggles with hearing prompted me (with some badgering from a friend), to put my experiences on paper. I realised through this, that I could turn my frustrations and negatives around hearing loss into something positive. And eventually, with support from QQ and Omega, it became a book. I hope it has helped someone.


I was meditating on these words – and the Lord put on my heart that there are writers whose words are not changing the world. Their words are sitting on a computer, or in a drawer and not doing the thing for which they were purposed. How like unused hearing aids! Hearing devices are meant to enrich our lives, to help us participate fully and be involved in our world. They are to help us move forward in our lives again. But they take practice, perseverance, and sometimes some support from other users. We sometimes fail, or feel self-conscious or embarrassed about using them.

Just as a user of hearing aids takes risks in learning a new way of living, will you as writers take the risk? Will you persist? Will you move forward into your calling? Will you chance letting your words ‘change the world’? Or will you play it safe, carefully preserving your ‘one talent’ on a USB?

Now, I’m sure the USB retailer will have appreciated the sale. But words are far more powerful than a few dollars at the shop. Your words can make or break the health and wholeness of another; those timely words can transform a life. Your gift of writing can make a difference. Will you seek support, take courage, and put your words out there?

Who knows, one day someone might come up to you and say, ‘Your words changed my world’.

Pamela Heemskerk is a physiotherapist, writer and jigsaw addict. She acquired a hearing loss during her first year at work and has worn aids for approximately 30 years. After many conversations, where others who are hard of hearing reported similar issues, she decided it was time to fill the information vacuum by writing 'Rather a Small Chicken ... A Guide to hearing Loss for Family and Friends.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Meet Our Members: Sally Poyzer

Most Thursdays in 2019 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today interview Sally Poyzer

Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.

I got married to Josh when I was 19 years old and we’ve now been married nearly 21 years. We have two wonderful kids: our daughter, Promise (10) and our son, Rockford (4).

I grew up in cold, wet Mount Gambier at the bottom of South Australia. After our honeymoon Josh and I moved to the top of the country to sunny, tropical Darwin. We really loved it up there! 

Following God’s call into ministry, we moved back to Adelaide nearly 11 years ago.

Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

I have written non-fiction books, novels, middle grade fiction, picture books, poems, plays and even a musical!

So far I’ve only (self) published one book, ‘That Book for Wives’. I wrote it because I found the first few years of marriage challenging: my husband just wouldn’t do what I wanted him to do! I whinged to God and He began to show me how I could change my marriage. As I saw my marriage transform, I jotted down the different lessons God was teaching me. Eventually I turned it in to a book and published it. It only took me 14 years! It’s an easy to read book with lots of short, super-practical tips.

I write because I love to write – it is fun to create stories and I really enjoy trying to construct a well-written sentence. My other main motivation is wanting to help draw others nearer to God.

Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

It’s been lovely hearing from complete strangers in Australian and the US who have emailed me to say how much my book has helped their marriage. But, of course, I’d love many more people to read it. I would also love more CWD members to read it because I think we all appreciate how important reviews are to authors! So, to get more CWD members reading and (hopefully) reviewing it, I’d like to offer two things:

  1. A giveaway. I’m going to give away one a free copy of ‘That Book for Wives’, posted to anywhere in Australia. To have a chance of winning the free book, please share in the comments your best tip for someone who is about to get married. Next week I’ll send ‘That Book for Wives’ to my favourite tip!
  2. A free PDF. If you’d like to read my book and write an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or Koorong (or all three!), please message me your email address and I’d be happy to email you a PDF of ‘That Book for Wives’.

Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

I find it very challenging to get time on the computer to write. I have run my own consulting business from home for nearly 10 years, which has been a great blessing with young kids. However, it also means my kids always see me on the computer (for work) so trying to get back on it to write (for fun) is hard – to them it just looks like I’m ignoring them again! Not getting much time on the computer can be frustrating, especially since I have about 10 different books I’m thinking about/working on at the moment (4 books in a kids adventure series, 2 novels, 3 books in the ‘That Book for …’ series and a cookbook!).

One trick that’s helped has been to record my ideas on the Voice Recorder app on my phone, which I can do when driving to pick up the kids from school. Knowing the ideas are recorded removes the worry that I will forget them.

I also make sure I have a small exercise book lying around my house so I can quickly jot down thoughts when I get them. Then, when I actually get time to jump on the computer and type, I have plenty of material to work with. I usually aim to write for a couple of hours every Sunday afternoon, although sometimes I just end up crashing in bed with a good book and some chocolate!

What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I recently read Lisa Cron’s ‘Story Genius’, as recommended by some of you in CWD. I borrowed it from the library and quickly realised I needed to buy my own copy so I could highlight it. It’s definitely a book you need to interact with! I loved the first third or so because it really got me thinking about my characters and their motivation and how this (rather than the external plot) is really what the story is about. However, from there it got a little bit too prescriptive for me. I finished it, but the last part of the book had a lot less highlighting. Still, it was definitely worth reading.

If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

Um, all of them? I am so grateful for this group. When I first joined CWD (at the recommendation of someone at Book Whispers) I had no idea about the publishing and marketing process. I have learnt so much from the blogs, from people’s posts and from members who have answered my questions. Thank you everyone, for sharing your wealth of knowledge and allowing me to be a part of your journey too.

What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?

My goals for this year are to:

  • Finish writing the fourth book in my adventure series for 7-10 year old kids and hopefully find a publisher, which may be a bit challenging. The books have a strong Christian message, but also have some toilet humour! The kids who’ve read my drafts love the humour and the suspense, but I’m not sure if Christian publishers will be keen to publish books with references to wee and booger, even if the kids in the books meet heroes from the Bible and learn valuable Scriptural truths. Thoughts and suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.

  • Launch a blog. I watched a video by Cyle Young (a Christian literary agent) last year where he talked about the importance of platform which made me realise a blog could be a good way to increase my platform. My plan is to focus on writing practical blogs about Christianity (e.g. an overview of the story of the Bible, a ‘Reading the Bible for the first time’ reading plan), marriage (e.g. how to forgive when he hasn’t said sorry, how to apologise well), and parenting (e.g. teaching your kids to be kind to each other, how I got rid of TV during the week). I’ve started writing it already but want to get a few more finished before launching. I’m also thinking these blogs will help me get some content written for a couple of books in my ‘That Book for …’ series. I’m not sure how I’m going to achieve these two goals with only a couple of hours each Sunday, but I figure it’s one word at a time!

How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

All of my books (apart from the cookbook!) have a significant faith element. All the ‘That Book for …’ books are Biblically-based. I started writing the kids series because I was trying to teach my daughter powerful truths from the Bible (such as, you don’t need to be afraid because God is always with you) in a fun, engaging way. Even my novels, which don’t have a particular ‘message’, are written from a Christian world-view.

I’m really conscious that Christians don’t love super-preachy books, but at the same time, I believe story is a very powerful way of sharing the truth of the gospel. Hopefully I can get the balance right!

Sally Poyzer is a credentialed pastor with CRC Churches International and has spent many years ministering to women, particularly in the area of marriage. She is passionate about sharing how God can help wives enjoy being married.

​With a background in corporate training and a Bachelor in Adult and Vocational Education, Sally is an experienced and enthusiastic preacher and teacher. She has her own consulting business, specialising in writing and facilitating customised training programs, as well as writing and formatting business documents.

Sally was married at nineteen to Josh Poyzer, who is now the Senior Pastor of Portlife Church. They have been married over twenty years and live with their two gorgeous children, Promise and Rockford, in Adelaide, South Australia. She loves reading, especially literature, with Pride & Prejudice easily topping her list of favourite books.

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Danger of Words

Thoughts from Jenny Glazebrook

Dare I write this post? It could be misunderstood … and held against me for years to come.

Words are dangerous.

They can set a forest on fire; they have the same power as a small rudder which changes the path of ships (James 3:3-9).

They can be so positive but they can be equally harmful.

Words are powerful and that’s what makes them dangerous.

I believe the written word is even more dangerous. Especially in this day and age, where what is written cannot be wiped away. Technology allows it to be retrieved even when deleted. And when coupled with no knowledge of the writer and no body language to confirm the real meaning or conversation to validate what is meant by the words, misunderstanding is sure to follow.
In the world of social media, I see more and more misunderstanding. I see words written with no thought of the effect it will have on the people reading; things people would never say face to face. Hurtful, thoughtless words.

We’ve seen the impact of Israel Folau’s social media post. Many believe it shows him to be bigoted and insensitive. Some think he should have been more careful what he wrote; provided more explanation. Others believe he was speaking the truth and so has every right to have said what he did, the way he did. In the end, only God knows whether he was prompted by the Holy Spirit or made a costly mistake.

We are also seeing politicians in trouble because people have gone back over their social media posts from ten years ago, taking them out of context, using them to damage their reputation.

I have personally experienced the use of a Facebook post against me. Someone being deliberately vague, making accusations, implying I had motives I certainly didn’t, and not mentioning my name so that those who wanted to believe it was me, could, and those who didn’t know what or who it was about would either question themselves or start guessing who could have done what … and making it fact in their own mind.

What about our published works? Do people understand the heart and meaning of them? There is a fascinating article about a living author who couldn’t answer the test questions about her own poem; questions given to High School students, requiring them to dig into the meaning and purpose of her work.

See article here:

It got me thinking that the only real way to understand the true meaning of something written is to speak personally with the author.

And God’s Word is the same. We need to read the Bible with the Holy Spirit so that He can reveal God’s true meaning. Without Him to confirm the meaning and without a personal relationship with God Himself and an understanding of His heart, the words can be misconstrued, used as weapons, misunderstood and harmful.

As we write for God’s glory, I believe we need to ask Him for the words; words that can be understood, that He can use, that will be clear and meaningful to the reader.

To be honest, these times we live in scare me a bit. Now, more than ever, we need to use caution with every word we put out there. One of my books deals with an issue that, at the time, was socially acceptable to write about. Now it is politically incorrect. I could see it, in the future, being used against me to discredit all my writing. So what do I do? I have to trust that at that time, God was guiding my hand; that He is in control. I don’t want to be living in fear of the power of my words, but I do want to be cautious, respectful and seeking God with each word I write.

So yes, my words can be misunderstood, but they could also encourage someone, challenge them in their thinking, bring hope and life and be used by God.

I have concluded that we must not live in fear, but we must live in such close connection with God who knows the future; who knows all things, that each word we write will be of positive eternal consequence and bring light into this dark world. We need to trust Him.

May we take courage. May God be our inspiration and guide our hands in all we write. May we write hope and light and life. May we use the power of words for His glory!

Jenny Glazebrook lives in the country town of Gundagai with her husband, Rob and 4 children along with many pets. She is the published author of 7 novels, 1 traditionally published, and 6 self published. She is currently working on her Bateman Family series to be published by Elephant House Press with Book 1 due for release in December, 2019. She writes because words burn within her. She is an experienced inspirational speaker and loves to encourage others to walk closer with God and hear His voice each day.  Jenny’s website is:

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Meet Our Members: Ben Dixon

Each Thursday in 2018 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today interview is with Ben Dixon (aka Wolf McTavish)

Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from, Ben. 

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, I’ve pastored in several churches from NSW to Outback and North Queensland, but by far, my favourite job was in the Christian Bookselling industry. For over ten years I worked as a Bookshop Manager for a non-profit Christian book chain. You could say I married into it. When I moved to North Queensland to take up a position as a youth pastor I found the local Christian bookshop. There nice young lady who volunteered at this shop, and was also a member of my church, so it made visiting the shop all the more attractive.

After we married we were presented with two options, move out to a small outback mining town and continue as a pastor there or join the Christian mission as managers of a new book shop they were opening. We choose the latter. It was an interesting time. One of the things I loved about working for this small company was that there was a lot of job variety if you wanted it. I got to create several websites, train new staff and help set up shops in places like Mount Isa and Alice Springs.

By far my greatest achievement, and biggest challenge is parenting my four children and supporting my wife as she home schools them.

Tell us about your writing. What do you write and why?

Most of my writing can be described as non-fiction, I have a blog (and a YouTube channel) where I write about books, reading and why we should read. It focuses on science fiction mostly. I blog under the pen name Wolf McTavish.

I'm currently working on an adventure novel with a fantasy twist, along with a superhero novel, a non-fiction book for home schooling dads and two science fiction novels. I think I need to focus on one and get it finished.

When I was younger I tried my hand at writing a few science fiction stories. I presented them to my Grandfather to proofread and provide some feedback. He tore my stories to shreds and went to great detail describing how scientifically impossible my stories were. I know he meant well, but it did shake my confidence in writing.

Years later I discovered blogging, but as I looked around I noticed the internet was clogged with so many blogs already, some just waffly streams of conscious post that went nowhere. I decided that there was too much 'noise' on the internet already so why should I contribute to it as well. Then I read an article about how creating content (like writing a blog post) rather than consuming content passively is a far more rewarding use of your time and energy. It may be more difficult to do but this well eventually help you develop character. 

So, I decided instead of just reading books, I would review them. Rather than reading about books I would write about them. The other reason I decided to blog was for the experience. Recently my desire to write and publish some novels has been rekindled so part of my plan was to write more in order to improve my writing skill. 

We were all created in the image of God and have an innate desire to create as well. So in order to grow I believed we need to become creators, not for the recognition that might follow (even though that would be good), but for the sake of the process itself. My preferred way of creating is to write. 

Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it? 

Most of my work can be read online, it’s free to view on various platforms: Blogger, Medium, Wattpad and YouTube. I’ll add the links below so you can take a look for yourselves. 

My novels, though, haven’t been read by anyone yet. The exception would be the Adventure Story with the fantasy twist. My father has read a few chapters and told me to blow something up and I’m currently getting feedback on the first chapter from the Omega Sci-fi / Fantasy chapter. 

My target audience for the novels would be a general audience, with maybe the exception of the superhero story which I’m trying to write for my children to enjoy. 

Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most? 

For my blog posts, I normally read a book or an article which starts me thinking about a certain topic. I’ll write down some ideas that I have, then read what others have to say about that topic and grab some quotes. I’ll them mash that together into article.


In regards to writing a novel this is my process so far:

· I come up with an idea and think about it for a while.

· Then start world building – basically I do a mind dump and write down everything about this universe: the characters, their backgrounds, the way the magic or tech works etc.

· Start drafting out a few chapters…

· Come up with another idea and start world building that universe.

· Get distracted by life, which gets in the way and give up for a few weeks before starting the cycle again.


My greatest challenge is completing a writing project. But I find that becoming part of a community of like-minded writers, CWD is a good example, provides the encouragement that I need, along with the opportunity to help others by sharing my knowledge and story to encourage them.

So hopefully you feel encouraged :)

Silence would help me the most, but trying to work from home with four children who don’t know the meaning of silence, is definitely a challenge.

What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I have two for this list: 

· Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline by Dean Wesley Smith 

· How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson 

I knew I wanted to write novels but I didn’t know where to start so I just kept reading more books on the craft of writing. In the introduction of Writing into the Dark, Dean Wesley Smith says he wanted to motivate writers to write and not be bogged down or scared by preconceived ideas of how you should write. It certainly helped me. After reading all those other books on the craft this was the one that really motivated me to start writing and stop being scared of starting. 

Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method was another book that I found really helpful. He claims that his snowflake method will work for people who plot, those who write without an outline and those in between. But the line that really stood out to me what this one: “You’re going to get lots of advice on how to write a novel. But that’s all it is. Advice. If you don’t like that advice, if it doesn’t work for you, then ignore it. If it does work for you, then run with it.” 

If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

That would be Adam Collings and Jeanette O'Hagan. Adam introduced me to this group and the Omega writers group and both Adam and Jenny have made me feel welcome within the group.

Also they both write the type of genre l love to read, science fiction and fantasy. I can't say how much I enjoyed reading Adam’s Jewel of the Stars novels and would recommend it to anyone who loves science fiction. I was privileged to beta read book two in this series and can say that both stories are better than a lot of the newer science fiction novels I've read over the last few years.

I've just started reading and enjoying Jenny's Heart of the Mountain fantasy series too. What I also like about both of these authors is the way they’re able to subtly weave in ideas about Christianity and their faith without breaking the reader out of the story. This is something I'm still working on with my writing. 

What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?

I have an ambitious goal of completing and publishing two books by the end of this year. That was my goal last year but I ended up helping my wife publish a nature journal. (Still a win!) 

I believe the first and most important step to achieving this year’s goal is to finish a first draft of at least one of my projects.

(Could place image BenHeatherNatureJournal.JPG here with following link  Ben and Heather with the One Year Nature Journal. Click on link to find out more and purchase in Australia.) 

How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

I grew up in a Christian home and have been a Christian from an early age so I view everything that happens through a Gospel worldview and hopefully my writing and videos reflect that too. I’ve read some really good science fiction and fantasy novels which teach scientific principles or discuss philosophical and religious ideas as its part of the storyline in a way that seems natural. A good example of this, despite its name is Amish Vampires in Space which juxtaposes Amish, Christian and Secular beliefs, discusses each in detail and keeps the tension of the story going at the same time. It’s well worth the read. (See Adam Collings YouTube review for more detail)

This is what I want to do with in my novels, write them from a Gospel worldview and be able to have the characters discuss ideas like redemption or show these ideas through their actions without ‘taking the reader out of the story’ because it’s to cheesy or seems forced. This is something I’m struggling with but want to accomplish especially if I’m aiming at the general market.


Ben Dixon spends his days taking photos of his beard and dog to post on his Instagram page, while his wife, Heather home school's their 3 children.

He is also on a quest for a good book. While Science Fiction is his favourite genre to escape to, he also enjoy Fantasy and Detective Fiction. In the non-fiction section he likes to read Theology, History and Leadership books.

This quest is never ending as there are always more good books to read.

You can read Ben Dixon aka Wolf McTavish's work at:

BloggerYouTube |  Wattpad | Meduim | Facebook | Twitter 

Monday, 6 May 2019

Exploring Genres: Westerns

by Roger Norris-Green


About 55 years ago I picked up a ‘Cleveland Western’ for 2 shillings in my local newsagent. I thought I could write one so I had a go. At that time I couldn’t even type so I wrote 40,000 words in longhand in an exercise book. My dear wife Elaine typed it on a portable typewriter and I posted it off to the publisher.

The editor at Cleveland Westerns accepted it for publication.

I was paid 60 pound

Since then I have written 140 westerns for the company under the pen names Cole Shelton, Ben Taggart and Sundown McCabe and two under my own name, ‘Last Stage to Sundown’ and ‘A Stranger comes to Town.’

These last two titles are available direct from me for $10 each if you message me on Facebook.

What are Westerns?

Westersn are mostly set in the later half 19th century (1860-1900) in the American Old West. They usually focus a nomadic cowboy or gunfighter sporting revolvers, rifles and horses, in quest of justice in an unfair world. There may be a empahsis on arid desert setting of the 'wild west' and common themes or plots can revolve around building the railway, conflict with cattlemen or Native Americans, outlaws and lawmen, protecting family and/or revenge stories.

 Westerns include such classics as Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage or TV series such as The Lone Ranter, Bonaza or the John Wayne movies.

Settler romances, set in the American Old West may pick up some of these themes, but have less focus on gunfights and a greater focus on woman's lives and romance. Settler romances are popular in Christian Fiction.

Traditional Westerns with Old Time Values

I write traditional westerns with ‘old time values’. The hero is a good man or at least one who was formerly living a troublesome life but who is coming good. He treats women in a civil manner, respectful and of course, ‘always gets the girl’.

He might be tempted by the ‘baddies’ but he never gives in.

The hero isn’t perfect but the reader can always identify with him because he is a decent human being. 

I have just had two westerns accepted for publication by Black Horse Westerns. One has just been released. It’s titled LAST CHANCE SALOON.

The story concerns a gunfighter who hangs up his guns for the peaceful life but then receives a letter from a beautiful young widow pleading for his help. The exciting finale takes place in the Last Chance Saloon where the hero stands alone against the forces of evil—and wins, of course. I don't have copies for sale but some libraries may have copies. Or you can buy online.

Simply google Last Chance Saloon is on the right hand side of the front page. Also available in e-book.

Oh, although my wife typed my first few stories, I since learned to type and have a computer!

This is the monthly cross post between Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers

Roger Norris-Green is the author of Outcast, Seagulls, Secrets, Tipping Point, A Stranger Comes to Town, Sunday At Ten Ten, Redemption, Last Stage To Sundown, Pathways and The Lonely Shore .

You can follow him on his facebook profile here or learn more about him from his CWD Meet or Members interview here.