Good, Better, Best

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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


Today, I'm going to deviate a bit from the art of writing and post something that came to me a couple of weeks ago.

In church we had a lesson about the principle of choosing. It was titled, “Good, Better, Best.” It was about how to make correct choices in our lives when we have several good alternatives, some alternatives being better than others, and some being the best options.

In his book, Spiritual Roots of Human Relations, Stephen R. Covey states, “By obedience to the principles and the ordinances of the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ, man will gradually become a ‘partaker of the divine nature’ and will feel comfort and confidence in the presence of his Eternal Father and his Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of life. It all may be summarized in another way – growth toward Godhood.”

He goes on to say, “In life man is immersed in various kinds of values: physical, social, material, family, spiritual. Life can be seen as a series of alternative choices within these value systems. Many times man finds himself in conflicting situations where he must choose to accept one value, and, by so doing, he knowingly or unknowingly rejects another.

“This choosing process is the growth process. If a man loves God more than pleasures, he will grow to become like God. If he loves his worldly pleasures more than God, he will choose and grow in another direction.”

Good, better, or best. Sometimes we have to make choices within these values. How do we decide?

Later on, Covey says, “Through continued faithfulness, sin gradually loses its pull and attractiveness, and man loses all desire for anything but continued service to mankind and obedience to higher and higher laws of the gospel.”

In other words, as we obey God’s commands, we will learn to wisely choose the best.

I pray we will all learn to make correct choices in our lives.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008

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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)



Here's my latest cut at the dreaded query. I know it ain't no gud yet, but I'm trying to get it guder so I c'n start sending out queries next month. I figger by the time agents respond, I'll have the book close to being dun with the critting stuff.

Thanks bunches,


Dear Agent/Editor

The Viet Nam war is looming and if Mark Wilkerson can’t get a student deferment from the draft, he at least wants to spend his last Christmas Eve at home with his friends and his girl. But when he narrowly escapes from a fiery crash that kills most of his family on the fog-bound Carquienz Bridge, his life changes forever. The unknown driver flees with only a dent, and Mark vows revenge. But how will he ever find that driver? And what will he do to get even when he does?

Following the tragedy, Mark finds himself in a new home, a new school, a new town, new friends, new loves – and new enemies. Mark is hoping for a student deferment and Jeff Marino hates him for that, calling him a draft dodger. But when Mark steals Jeff’s date, Genie Lombardi, Jeff nearly kills him. When Mark recovers, he discovers Jeff could be the one who killed his family and he plots how to claim his revenge. Before he can, however, Jeff loses his only true friend in a drug induced accident. In his grief he blames everyone but himself, especially Mark. To get even with Mark, he gets drunk and kidnaps Genie. When Mark tries to rescue her, the situation turns deadly, until he learns the truth that could destroy him and what's left of his family.

Sweet Revenge is an edgy 70,000-word coming of age story set in the small northern California community where I grew up. The Carquinez Bridge, known for dense fog and multi car pileups, helped to inspire elements of this story.

I would be happy to send you a synopsis, sample pages or the completed manuscript of Sweet Revenge upon your request. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

As most of you, my faithful readers (all 3 or 4 of you), know, my first novel "Sweet Revenge" is set in the mid-1960s. My second "GERTA!" is set in the early 1950s. Now, I'm a regular follower and sometimes poster on several writers message boards, and agent/publisher blog sites. One publisher in particular was asked about what constitutes historical fiction for young adults. Her answer got me to thinking. Do my novels qualify as historical. Certainly, "GERTA" is set more than 50 years ago (the so-called magic time-frame for a novel to be considered historical). Also, some publishers have considered anything about the Viet Nam War as being historical. Well, "Sweet Revenge" is set prior to the major conflicts of the war, so maybe it qualifies.


I asked several writers their opinion about whether or not my novels would qualify. They all pretty much agreed that my novels do not qualify. To be considered historical, the time-frame needs to be a part of the plot, almost as much as a character. The story needs to be set in the social/historical aspects of the time frame. My stories, can just as easily be set in modern times.

While I loved writing about the time frames I was using, I have to agree. So now what do I do? One more revision? It appears so. Poor "Sweet Revenge." It's been through so many revisions I've lost count. The biggest problem is the settings have changed from what I remember. I was writing what I know - that being the places I grew up in. Now, it looks like I'll need to do a lot of research to make sure everything "tracks" with how the settings look today. Not an easy task, living nearly 1000 miles away from there.

Oh, and by the way. Have you read BasicGuy's blog lately? Check it out. He's got some great comments for the basic person. A link to his blog is on my sidebar.

Okay, now it's back to the drawing board. Wish me luck.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


I found a few more over-used words that I'm adding to my list.

-ly words

I went through the previous list and did a global search for the words. Where I could, I either changed the word to something more descriptive, or in many cases simply eliminated it, or the phrase in which it was contained. I didn't eliminate all those words. Some were properly used.

I've found this to be a very rewarding experience. I had been relying on my critique group, The Writers Pen at the Authors by Design website, but by going through this, I think my books now read much smoother. It's tightened up my prose immensely.

Give it a try. It takes some time, but not as much as waiting for your critique group to catch them, and it's much more efficient, considering your critters are likely to miss most of them.
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