Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bonnie Harvey’s Good Writing Rules

The Russian Nikita Khrushchev once remarked,
“It is not without reason that writers in our country are called ‘Engineers of the human soul.’”
Khrushchev’s observation could well be applied to Christian writers, too. Who can be called more qualified to “Engineer the human soul” than a Christian writer?

Since I teach fiction and non-fiction writing classes at Kennesaw University in the Atlanta, Georgia area and am always the consummate English teacher with a Ph.D. in English, I’m much aware of a writer’s needs. In addition, I work with writers in my editorial consulting business and am also a published author with 22 books and over 100 articles. These various pursuits feed into Harvey Literary Agency, too.

Keeping Khrushchev’s ideas in mind, here is my compilation of “Harvey’s Good Writing Rules”:
  1. Write daily at your peak time.
  2. Read widely—fiction, history, biographies, travel books—analyze what you read, see how the author puts her book together.
  3. Write about who you know—find characters from your own acquaintances and friends—you’ll find that characters often take on your own traits—that’s ok, ‘cause who do you know better than yourself?
  4. Story equals a character & a problem—unless the character struggles with a problem, you don’t have a story; also make your protagonist strong, but with a fatal flaw, and let him be in conflict with another character.
  5. Start in the middle of the story—and in the middle of the action—avoid setting scenes or explaining background at first.
  6. Use all five senses—avoid just using description—even in non-fiction writing; use dialogue, active verbs to make scenes active.
  7. Point of View—try to stick to third person POV when first writing a story (It allows for the narrator to view each character and doesn’t limit)—don’t mix points of view—too confusing.
  8. Make your manuscript readable—double space with Times New Roman 12 point font. Have title, name, address, phone, and e-mail on first page.
My “Writing Your Life Story” class can help you find strong ideas for your articles and books. I look forward to seeing you there!

Visit Dr. Bonnie Harvey at

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