If you’re going to build something, you need to have the right tools. Right? As a writer, I can think of lots of tools that I find indispensable: a computer, a word-processing program (or two), pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, style guides, grammar books. And to that list, I am now happy to add the Character Development Journal from Sweet Harmony Press.
I received mine as a Christmas gift from a thoughtful girlfriend, and I absolutely love the simplicity of this journal. It’s the same two-page spread repeated about fifty-something times (and I don’t imagine they’d appreciate me sharing a photo of it since then you might not want the journal). It lets you list things like the character’s name and nickname, age, other physical characteristics, jobs, beliefs, people the character loves and hates, pets, and much more. There’s even a bulleted list of dozens of character traits for you to check off, ranging from A (“accountable”) to Z (“zealous”), and I’m looking forward to going deeper with the characters in my first novel as I continue to work on book two in the series.
I’d read before that an author needs to keep a “character Bible,” but I hardly knew where to start other than jotting down a few disjointed lists in one of my many brainstorming journals. As I continue to build an imaginary world for my characters, I now have a handy journal that will (hopefully!) help me create characters that, as the book cover says, “readers will love.”
A sweet New Year’s revelation: my spiritual studies and my grammar studies can overlap. At the end of the year, I was taking stock of my daily Bible-reading habit and realized it left me wanting … more. Yes, I read through the Bible again in 2018, but I wasn’t sure I’d gotten as much out of the reading as I would have liked. Then I remembered that a friend had passed along a Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible she no longer wanted. What if I tried reading that during my morning devotions? Couldn’t hurt, might help, I decided.
I also started reading with a notebook at hand to write down observations about the scriptures I read each morning. So far, my Bible-reading plan has me in Genesis in the Old Testament and Matthew in the new, and I have yet to finish a day’s reading without jotting down several new insights I’ve found. I can’t help thinking that this Hebrew-Greek Bible has something to do with these new insights.
This week, I found myself looking up the word “scribes” in the book’s concordance of Greek words. Imagine how it delighted my grammar-geek heart to learn that the Greek word was “grammateus.” The definition wasn’t especially profound (a writer, a scribe), but I did learn that the word could also mean “town clerk,” which was news to me.
The other big discovery? This Bible has a whole page of verb tenses that I had never even heard of. I was ridiculously happy when I found that, and I wonder how much time I’ll spend this year learning about things like the “aorist subjunctive active” (be still my heart!).
Of course, no matter how many Bibles I read and study from, I’ll be most happy if, at some point this year, I make some progress with the Christian basics, verses like Luke 6:31, and “do unto others as I would have them do unto me.” One day, I hope I’ll pass along a Bible to someone that will make them as happy as this one has made me!
To kick off the new year, I wanted to mention a few of the tools I’ll be using this year, and one simple one that I absolutely adore is this new Bibliophile planner by Jane Mount that was a Christmas gift from my husband.
While I already had an everyday planner as well as a planner just for my writing career (that one is available here), I have never before had a journal or planner that I devoted to what I was reading—not what I was writing for myself or clients but what I was simply reading. So each morning or evening of the year so far, I’ve pulled the planner aside and jotted down the titles of the books I read each day. Since January 1, that’s included the Bible (a few chapters a day), The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle (a prayer book), and whatever fiction and nonfiction I happen to be reading at the moment. I’m also recording the names of books that my online book club is reading. Hopefully, this new tracking method will prevent me from waiting till the last minute to read these titles, as has frequently happened over the past two years of the club’s existence.
Many times over the years, I have tried to recall where I read something that week. This reading journal, I hope, will help me keep up with the books I enjoyed—or didn’t!—during the year. If you haven’t yet seen this planner, it’s not too late to check it out or to come up with a system of your own for recording your reads in 2019. However you choose to chronicle your reading life this year, good luck and happy reading!