The What and Why of Writing: Boy Scout Moment

Say the words “Boy Scout” and most people will think “Be prepared.” That’s the Boy Scout Motto. Or they might think of words like trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous. These are parts of the 12 Points of the Scout Law. I know all this because my husband, who is an Eagle Scout, recited all 12 Points to me in rapid-fire succession. Once a scout, always a scout.

And yes, all of this Boy Scout trivia is applicable to writing a novel.

What: Boy Scout Moment

This is a sweet moment in the beginning of the book where we glimpse the hero or heroine doing something kind: Maybe they are  kind to an animal. Maybe they help an old woman across the street (Boy Scout, remember?). In some small way, your character sacrifices what they want for someone else. The Boy Scout Moment helps your readers like your hero and/or your heroine.

Why: I already explained why you need a Boy Scout Moment early on in your novel. Look at the last line under the section labeled “What.” You want your readers to like your hero and your heroine.

As novelists, we understand the character arc in a story. Character arc is the timeline that allows our main characters to change and mature as the story progresses. This is why in Chapter One you can have a hero and heroine who loathe each other but then discover Happily Ever After together by the time you pen “The End.” Thanks to the character arc, they are not the same people they were at the beginning of the story.

But not all our characters are likeable at the beginning of the book. As a matter of fact, we’re supposed to write characters who are less-than-perfect. How do you show readers that your hero or heroine are still worth their time, despite their faults?

This is the brilliance of the Boy Scout Moment.

While your heroine may not glimpse the hero’s heart of gold until later in the book, give your readers a quick peek. Here’s where you can peruse that 12 Point Scout Law again:

  1. Trustworthy
  2. Loyal
  3. Helpful
  4. Friendly
  5. Courteous
  6. Kind
  7. Obedient
  8. Cheerful
  9. Thrifty
  10. Brave
  11. Clean
  12. Reverent


Example: In my novel Crazy Little Thing Called Love, my heroine Vanessa doesn’t do close relationships. She’s good at saying hello and she’s good at saying goodbye — but she doesn’t know how to do all that comes in between those two words. And yes, there are reasons for that. I knew if I wasn’t careful, Vanessa could come across as distant, yes, even unlikeable, to my readers. At the beginning of the book they wouldn’t know all the reasons why Vanessa would seem closed off toward people. That unfolded as the story progressed. So I crafted a Boy Scout Moment for Vanessa where she helped out a single mom who she’d met during one of her shifts as a paramedic.

What kind of Boy Scout Moment could you give your hero or heroine? Could he look like a jerk to the heroine but prove himself to be trustworthy to someone else? (#1) Could she be loyal to her family by helping out a sibling? (#2) Could he continue to be courteous to his boss even though he’s seething inside? (#5) Or could she clean up a mess she didn’t make?  (#11)


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To Anyone Struggling with the Day Job by Nick Kording


I watched the Tony Awards this past June with my eldest child, a Broadway nerd in the best sense of the phrase. It’s my fault she is this way. I started taking her to the theatre at the age of six and made annual mother-daughter pilgrimages back to the Holy Grail of theatre – the City. We’ve watched the Tony awards together for 12 years and probably will watch it for more than twice as many more. One of the things I love about Broadway is that many of the actors, writers, and members of the theatre community are unabashedly followers of Christ. They thank their family and God when they win and genuinely seem happy for those who beat them.

What does this have to do with the day job, you ask.

One of the winners, one we were rooting for and who has done some amazing work, mentioned the day job in his speech. While he didn’t thank God, he did say something that has sat with me ever since. After thanking his family and theatre companies supporting his work, which he also referred to as family, he said:

And to anyone struggling with day jobs out there in order to make work that comes from your heart and your gut, keep the faith. Thank you.

Those were his last words. They were the ones that stuck with me. Only they stuck in a way that felt… well, startling. Maybe it was an afterthought. I think it was meant to be encouraging. Though they weren’t to me. In fact, they kind of stopped me in my tracks. And they took away from the excitement I had for his achievement.

Fast forward two months and I am thinking about what I would write just before taking my daughter to college where she will major in dramatic writing. This speech settled somewhere in my head comes to mind. Maybe it is because my daughter will likely have a day job as she pursues the dream of seeing her work performed on the stage and small screen. She may be an assistant in the writer’s room or a PA (Production Assistant) who does a lot of running around filling whatever need on 13 to 14 hour days with very little pay for a graduate-school educated person. Am I worried about her? No. I trust the gift God gave her. He showed me her talent as He enabled her to win national contests and have her work professionally produced not once, but twice while she was still in high school.

Then maybe it is because I’m looking for a day job myself. Maybe my own situation made it sad for me. Sure, it would be amazing to have a big contract and be sitting behind my computer with the next two or three books just waiting to flow onto the page. That’s the dream, right?

And if your day job is more of a nightmare, then keeping the faith is encouragement – hope even. But I don’t look at the day job as a struggle. I look at it as part of the journey. Whether your day job is mom and wife, journalist, photographer, professor, waitress, salesman or clerk, it went through God’s hands. I know that sounds like the Christian thing to say, but probably not heartfelt. Only it is.

We write from what we’ve experienced and what we wish would be. We write what we see and feel. For me, at least, these things come from my day job. For the last several years, the bulk of that day job has been as a full-time mom and part-time ghostwriter. And while I don’t write stories about moms or even their children, my experiences as a mom and ghostwriter, as well as from my past jobs, are a part of my writing, my perspective and my response to the struggles of the human heart, as well as Jesus’s redemption of our heartaches, which is what I write about.

So, thank you for the day job. For the time I don’t feel guilty for not writing. For the experiences, people and thoughts the day job gives me that sitting behind my computer cannot. For the income (when paid) that allows me to go to writing conferences. Thank you for the day job for the person it has made me… and, for how He will use it to change me and my writing.

One day, writing fiction may be my day job. Until then, I’m thankful for the ones I’ve had and the ones to come.


Nick Kording writes contemporary and Biblical fiction with a touch of romance, as well as Christian living, Bible studies and devotionals. She writes for His glory.

When Publishing Doesn’t Go Your Way – 19 Things to Remember

It’s easy to get discouraged in the writing industry. It’s a tough business, and as they say on Project runway, “One day you’re in, and one day you’re out.”

So what’s a writer to do?

Here’s my list of things to remember when publishing doesn’t go your way:

  1. We always have a choice, we can get stronger through adversity or defeated by it. This is true in life, and also in publishing.
  1. Failure is an option, but it’s not as bad as you think. Some of my most valuable lessons have come through repeated failure. The key is to not let failure stop you.
  1. Publishing is subjective business. What one editor loves, another hates. Don’t let one or two opinions stop you in your tracks.
  1. It’s important to cultivate a positive attitude. Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you ignore the negative, you just don’t let it defeat you.
  1. The best opportunities are often disguised as problems.
  1. Success has nothing to do with perfection. It’s important to strive to be the best we can be. But perfection is out of reach. Don’t let a lack of it hold you back.
  1. Every writer needs a tribe. We need others traveling a similar path to encourage us and hold us accountable.
  1. Every writer’s journey is different. Although we need companions, we have to remember our path is unique. Comparing your opportunities and milestones are not a productive use of your time.
  1. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. We all are afraid of things—failure, the blank page, not living up to expectations. But the courageous writer continues on in spite of fear.
  1. Publishing is five percent talent and ninety-five percent perseverance. The tide will turn. It may seem like your turn with success with never come, but that’s only true if you quit.
  1. The harder the climb, the better view. When we work for something, we value it more.
  1. Publishing is a process, not a destination. We look at others ahead of us and feel like they’ve arrived. Truthfully, no one has ever arrived.
  1. It takes as long as it takes. There are so many things that go into the publishing equation. The key is to not rush the process.
  1. In this business, a lot of success does come from who you know. Networking is vital. Learn the lesson early and you’ll find the path easier.
  1. You are stronger than you think. So often we underestimate ourselves. Stop and look back at what you’ve already accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back.
  1. Every writer struggles with insecurity. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never published a book or published fifty. The blank page remains an enemy to be vanquished.
  1. Nothing lasts forever, not even the writing slumps.
  1. Flexibility is key. We can make plans, but just because things don’t turn out the way we hope is no excuse to give up.
  1. Finally, remember these words, A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

These are the things I try to remember when publishing gets tough. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Writing Nostalgia by Ron Estrada

There are two things in fiction guaranteed to sell: sex and nostalgia.

If you’re like me, you watched in horror as a poorly written smut book shot up the best-seller lists, so it’s not likely you’ll write the next 50 Shades of Anything. But the second option is up for grabs. In case you haven’t noticed, there seems to be a plethora of books, movies, and TV shows set in the not-so-distant past. We’re talking 70s and 80s. You know, the years we lived through!

Authors like Rainbow Rowell are seizing the moment on the rush to nostalgia. And her teen readers love it. After all, they’re reading about characters who may have been their own parents. TV shows like Stranger Things are not only set in the 80s, the entire production reflects the production styles of the time. Check that one out on Netflix or just Google the opening credits and you’ll see what I mean.

While a few of you may be mortified that the younger generation considers your childhood a fascinating taste of American history, I, for one, am rejoicing. One of the difficulties of writing contemporary fiction is keeping up with modern technology, trends, and language. Have your characters texting each other and, by the time your book is published, we may be using holograms sprouting up from our iWatches. And we know better than to slip current slang into our dialogue. In six months, it’ll be ancient history.

With nostalgia writing, however, we know exactly what our characters have at their disposal. Not much, right? Got a flat tire? You were stuck changing it yourself or walking to the nearest phone booth. Younger readers will be fascinated by “life on the frontier.” Older readers will nod and reminisce along with you. As for slang, we’re finally free to go for it! Your readers expect it to be a lost language, so no one is going to write you off as out-of-touch.

Since settings from the 1970s on aren’t considered historical fiction, we’re not held so tightly to the standards of the armchair historians. After all, we’re simply remembering our past. If you haven’t given nostalgia writing a try, this may be your time. So start flipping through those embarrassing yearbooks and see what sparks an idea. You get a trip down memory lane. Your readers get a great story!


Ron Estrada is the author of the Cherry Hill series, a regular columnist for Women2Women Michigan, and contributor to The Novel Rocket. You can find out what he’s up to at