Friday, August 21, 2020

Formula and Familiarity vs. the Brilliance of Something New by JoAnn Durgin

Meme About Being Yourself

Formula and Familiarity 
vs. the Brilliance of Something New 

Allen Arnold is a well-respected speaker and the author of The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love, and Create, a brilliant blend of storytelling and teaching. Allen spent more than twenty years in the publishing industry, so he knows his stuff about writing, promoting, and selling books. It was a privilege to hear Allen speak and teach at a writers’ conference in southern California a few years ago. I follow him on Twitter, and this recent observation caught my attention:

“Some artists are convinced the world only wants one type of creativity from them. So they reluctantly quit blazing new trails for the sake of consistency. Yet it was the brilliance of something new that caused folks to follow them in the first place—not formula or familiarity.”

After reading this quote, I thought about a friend who told me I’ll never top my debut novel. When I asked her why, she said, “Because it was so new and different. I’d never read anything like it before.” When I stopped to think about it, I realized it was actually a great compliment considering I write contemporary Christian romance, perhaps the genre most often labeled as “stereotypical” and “predictable.” Obviously, even with variations, none of us should write the same story over and over. Madonna once said the key to her success was that she stayed “fresh” by constantly evolving and changing. “If you stay the same, you die.” While extreme, her statement made a valid point.

What makes a book stand out among the crowd? First of all, a fresh, lively writing voice. Fascinating and complex characters the reader cares about and can root for are a must; in a romance, this means a happy ending (or at least a satisfying one). The writing avoids formulaic convention and creates new twists on old plots. Realistic dialogue, beautiful prose, well-constructed scenes…these are only a few examples of the proven techniques to help your book shine. As cliché as it might sound, if you write what you love to read, then others will want to read it, too.

However, we’re living in an uncertain world where readers crave familiarity. When everything around us seems to be going crazy and long-held beliefs and standards are being questioned, abandoned, and/or outright rejected, many readers seem to want what’s safe and firmly within their comfort zone. That’s understandable, and it’s okay. But, as authors, we need to beware of the danger of slipping into writing books that are bland and mundane.

I spoke to a fellow author a number of months ago who told me she felt “obscure.” Her books sold fairly well, but she wondered if she was only “spinning her wheels.” Through tons of advertising, exposure on blogs, and especially in following the trends and writing what’s popular (and producing one quick book after another), she’s now become financially successful. But this writer confided to me last week that she’s constantly stressed, exhausted, pressed for time, and she can’t write what she wants. Further, she said she’d “go back in a heartbeat to the way things used to be” and feels she lost herself somewhere along the way. I’ve prayed often for this author, and I pray for all Christian authors, especially, as we navigate these uncertain waters.

The best encouragement? If you keep your eyes focused on the Lord, He’ll steer you in the right direction. Pray before you write and ask Him to guide your thoughts and words. Then write as He leads. Write your passion, and others will feel that passion. Guaranteed, they’ll want to come along for the ride!

Until His Nets Are Full,

Matthew 5:16

We're living in an uncertain world where readers crave familiarity. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Write your passion, and others will feel that passion. Guaranteed, they'll want to come along for the ride! #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Formula and Familiarity vs. the Brilliance of Something New #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Thee Will I Honor

Treasured Vow Series
Book 2

After serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan, First Lieutenant Matthew Henry Martin, returns to Meadowvale, his beloved hometown nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Wounded in a roadside IED attack that killed two of his comrades, Matt’s devastating leg injury ended his military aspirations. At 25, he’s earned his degree but unemployed and facing a move back into his childhood home. Surely God has a higher purpose and plan for his future?

Lesley Ann Randall is a woman on a deeply personal mission. A small Virginia town is the last place her older sister, First Lieutenant Faith Randall, was spotted. Could a sleek red Mercedes hold the clue to her whereabouts? When Lesley speeds into Meadowvale, she immediately captures the attention of the sheriff, the pastor, and a handsome war veteran with secrets of his own.

When these two join forces, will they discover something greater than they could ever have imagined?

USA Today Bestselling Author JoAnn Durgin is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Lewis Legacy Series, Prelude, the Starlight Christmas Series, Catching Serenity, Hearts Design, Gentle Like the Rain, Whisper to My Heart, the Serendipity Christmas Series, the Treasured Vow Series, the Wondrous Love Series, If You Believe, Echoes of Edinburgh, Portrait, and The Valentine Verse. Her most recent release is Love on Assignment in Millcreek, Book 1 of The Millcreek Christmas Series. She’s also written three novels under the pen name of Julianna Desmond, her latest being Only A Whisper Away.

A former estate administration paralegal, JoAnn writes contemporary Christian romance full-time and lives with her family in her native southern Indiana.

Feel free to connect with her at or via her website at