Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I love being an author and writing The Sinners’ Garden was a lot of fun. It also presented quite a few challenges for me from the first couple drafts to what became the final version of the story, not because of the normal bumps in the road we authors frequently hit, but by my accidental deletion of the story’s original
ending along with around 19,000 other words, which was roughly the last twenty percent of the book. As miffed as I was when it happened, it was a relatively easy fix for me because the ending is what I worked on first. Though I made a few tweaks, it was a simple rewrite because when we begin with the end in mind, our target is set and we have an uninterrupted view of our final destination, that last stop that tells us who and where are characters really are without the full benefit of knowing how they got there.

Let’s say you’ve got a week off work, your vacation has just begun, and there’s a knock on your door. You open it and there’s a man outside that hands you the keys to a brand new car and tells you to get in and start driving. Though you hadn’t planned on it, it sounds like a great time, so you jump in and put the pedal to the metal. You are enjoying that new car smell, the ride is smooth, you’ve got the radio going, and it’s a lot of fun because you’re seeing plenty of new things.  

But then something begins to happen …

You start slowing down and then you begin to wonder where you are going. Before long, you pull over to the side of the road and stop to mull things over. Just for the fun of it, let’s call this “driver’s block.”

Writing a good book shouldn’t be all that different than planning for a good vacation, because at the end of the day, both are journeys and each should begin with a clear destination in sight. 

So why not start your next book by writing the ending first? 

Think about it. It’s a lot easier to hit a target you can see.

When we write the ending first, our target outcome is right in front of us and we have a better view of how to get there. Naturally, all of us author types go into our stories with an amazing roster of characters and a handful of scenes we know will make unforgettable movie moments, but do we really know what we are trying to accomplish when we begin or have we perhaps plugged into Google maps without knowing where we are going? 

By beginning with the end in mind, we get a sneak peek at where our characters have gone, what they have or have not conquered, and most importantly, we get a glimpse at how different they are compared to where we introduce them to our readers. This is a huge advantage for us because we know if our characters aren’t significantly different at the beginning than they are at the end … we know in advance that we can’t invite them along for the ride and must put them to sleep now before our editors do.

Once we have established the difference in our characters at both ends of the story, we are then better prepared for those saggy middle scenes that drag and don’t keep the story moving forward. Each scene must introduce three new concepts or ideas that take us toward that golden ending, and when we experience that phenomenon known as “writer’s block,” it will be short-lived, because our characters will jump up off the pages and tell us what to do instead of vice-versa.  Why? Because they (like us) already know the ending and understand that they have to make changes to get there. So when you hit a bump in the road, that’s our cue as writers to put our characters in situations where they have a decision to make. And that decision … that choice … if done correctly … will be both the catalyst for change and a key turning point in the book, which are both crucial for any good story.

Happy writing.
Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous

lows—some born of chance, some born of choice. Once a senior vice president at a major investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering, where he learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. His first novel, The Reason, was published in 2012. The Sinners’ Garden (available December 2013) is his second novel. He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan. 

Learn more about William Sirls and The Sinners’ Garden at www.williamsirls.com, Facebook, or Twitter.  

The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls, Reviewed by S. Black

The Sinners’ Garden, written by William Sirls, is a unique story depicting God’s love and mercy to the sinners’ hearts.  An angry unhappy teenager, Andy Kemp, whose face was disfigured at an early age, hides behind his books and long hair. His mother, Judi Kemp, lives her life guilt ridden for not protecting her son from an abusive father.  Andy’s Uncle, Gerald Rip Ripley, recently released from prison, who found Jesus as his savior while he was in jail, comes home to help his sister, Judi, and nephew, Andy.  Heather Gerisch, a police officer who followed in her father’s footsteps on the police force, haunted by her father’s mysterious murder years before, investigates the mysterious break-ins of the elusive “Summer Santa”. The “Summer Santa”, dressed all in black, enters homes and delivers to several of the towns’ people various expensive items (food gift cards, bags of money, etc.). Oddly these items match the items mentioned on the prayer request cards at church.  
Strange happenings begin in Benning after Rip gives his nephew an iPod. Although the IPod becomes broken, Andy hears music from the iPod and in a trance-like state speaks to specific individuals revealing hidden messages from God. In addition, while Rip and Andy are on a motorcycle ride, they find a beautifully landscaped wildflower garden, divided into four sections. This garden mysteriously grew up overnight in a remote area behind the abandoned steel mill. What is the meaning behind the garden and the revealing messages? Are they related? Who is this black clad individual known as the “Summer Santa,” and how does he continue to elude police capture?  
“The Sinners’ Garden” was a good read even though the story starts with an event that causes much sadness and heartache, the story ends with a happy conclusion.  I would recommend this book to my friends. 


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