Thursday, April 30, 2009

#3- Dean Lorey can Really Tell a Story: Screenwriting and Story Building

Dean Lorey, author of the Monster Academy, Johny Zombie a.k.a. My Boyfriend's Back, Happy Gilmore and Major Payne, knows a thing or two about telling a good story. He began by saying that once you see the standard structure of most of what comes out of Hollywood, you can't un-see it.

In facing a new project he suggested an easy way to know whether your plot is better for a movie or novel. Look at whether the conflict is external or internal. (Duh, but I didn't think of it until after I heard it.) Also, your hero has to have a clear goal and clean opposition. Hero's may or may not go through a story arc. Characters like James Bond and Indiana Jones don't change through their adventures and that's okay, because they've saved the world. Other character's lives are changed forever like Luke Skywalker.

Plot alone can't carry a story. Characters are very important. One great way to reveal characters is through puttng them in a position where they must choose between good and a different good. Their choice then defines them. He gave the example of Indiana Jones when he rushes in the tent where Miriam is being held by the Nazi's and finds they have a medalion that will tell them where the ark is. He pauses for a minute, weighing the choices- girl or ark. He chooses ark and puts the girl's gag back on her.

In order to fit into the time limit allowed by film, you have to tell the most story in the least amount of time. To do this, you begin at the last possible moment and end as soon as you've made your point.

For example: Neighbor knocks on the door and man opens it. She says "Ted wants a divorce." There is no "hi, how are you?" You just get right into it.

If scenes don't advance the plot, they shouldn't be there.

Common structure of a movie is-

ACT I- Length: 15-20 minutes- Life is normal when suddenly something happens that throws your character into a situation that turns their lives upside down.

ACT II- Length: 40-60 minutes- The heart of the movie has your character trying to fix whatever is broken or resolve the thing that has thrown their world apart. But as they try, they get in more and more trouble until they are hopelessly lost. In many stories the conflict shifts at mid-point when suddenly the main character realizes that the way they thought to fix the problem wasn't the right answer at all. Their new goal leads them into more danger and when all is nearly lost... then you start the next act.

ACT III- Length: 15-25 minutes- The final act has the main character reach inside themself and find a strength they never realized they possessed. Again, in Star Wars Luke puts away the guidance system and trusts the force, having character arc and story arc complete in the same moment. (He really liked that movie.)

If you have a great story idea that you want to make into a screenplay, Dean Lorry suggested that you go to and print off the script of a movie then read it as you watch it. This will give you a good idea of the basics.

Selling your script is another matter. His suggestion is to let anyone willing to read it, do so. If you think you've got a great idea, broadcast it. Also, if you can figure out the names of assistants to producers or writers, they may be more open- sort of like Junior Agents.

For me, the most helpful thing was to look at the skeleton of a story and compare it to my own plots, making sure they had clean arcs. I also have to admit that I spent a good portion of yesterday with a script in my hand watching movies. Now that was fun!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

#2- Making Money and Building a Name for Yourself: Article Writing with Carolyn Campbell

Overview of LDS Storymakers Writer's Conference-

Carolyn Campbell is a woman of great success. Her stories have graced the cover of People Magazine. She has regular articles in Lady's Home Journal, Redbook, and nameless other smaller publications. She has had thousands of articles published and averages numerous projects every week.

So what's her secret?

I raised my hand, skeptical that everything she touches turns to gold and asked how many rejections she gets. She shrugged and said about half of what she sends out gets turned down, but since she submitted five queries a day- that is still a lot of copy that actually pays.


AND at $500 to $1000 per article, she's making more in a few afternoons than I did over the six months it took me to put together my first book. Of course, her resume is impressive, but I'm ready to start trying. Carolyn outlined the way to start to make it all happen.

Choose Your Prime Time for Writing-

You need to face your writing seriously. She has a specific routine which she tries not to deviate from. Everyday she begins by sending out five queries. After an hour or so of doing that, she starts writing her current work in progress. She continues until two o'clock and takes a break. Then sometime in the afternoon she spends another hour on marketing and interviews. Just before bed, she plans what she'll accomplish the next day so that she stays on task.

According to Carolyn by:

- facing your writing like a business,
- keeping the pipeline full with new queries,
- holding yourself to time limits so you take breaks and
- varying your activities,

it allows you to stay productive without getting burnt out.

Sending Out Queries

Unlike writing fiction where you write first, sell later, this non-fiction venue is just the opposite. She must have told us at least four times DON'T WRITE YOUR STORY UNTIL IT IS SOLD! I think she had to repeat it so many times because we couldn't believe her. She also reminded us that seasonal stories must be queried six to eight months out. Get ready for Christmas!

So what's in a query? This is Carolyn's formula:

1. The Lead-
Begin with something that will surprise people and give them a visceral reaction. A girl got in a car wreck while text messenging. Carolyn found out the girl had 11,000 text messages that month. That was her lead. Another Calculus teacher was leaving high school to paint lines in parking lots. When the camera crew showed up to take his picture, they were so entertained one said "This is a huge loss to education." That was her lead. Start with what about your article will speak to people.

2. Why Should We Care?
The next paragraph should explain what impact this story has on what segment of the population. Use statistics, regional interest, news pegs, or the obscure.

3. Why Should You Be The One to Write it?
So if you've sold the article with the first two paragraphs, now is the time to sell yourself. If you've got past writing experience include it, but more than that, include how you are connected to the article. What experience do you have in the field or how do you know the person you are writing about.
If you don't have that, tell them you called the resources at the center of the story and they have already agreed to an interview. (If you say this, really have done it.) She also said they love photos, so if you have pictures or the ability to get pictures, that's a big plus.

4. Ending Phrase-
Carolyn said she ends all her queries almost identically. Her words are "If you will send me an approximate word length or deadline, I will begin on the article immediately." Now you might want to tweak it a little so it sounds like you, but in essence here is where you ask for the job.

That's it. She also said that after you develop a relationship with a publisher she sends out mini-queries. From what I could get the only difference between a full-blown query and a mini one was the third part of the query on selling yourself, because they already know you.

What Do You Write About?

Carolyn is always on the lookout for good stories. The kernel of an idea can begin any number of ways:

Proximity -
What's going on in your schools, in your town? What are your friends worried about or talking about? Read your local paper and magazines. Listen to what people around you care about because chances are that other people care about it too.

Personal Connections -
Do you have friends, relatives, church contacts with a friend of someone who might be newsworthy? Is there someone they have spoken of that seems fascinating. Don't be afraid to ask. (Carol is fearless when it comes to interviewing. She said that she had one person say they didn't want to comment so she got the article from getting information from all his friends and then called to see if he wanted to comment on their comments. He did.)

Personal Passions -
Is there something you are passionate about? If you care about it, that emotion will shine through your writing. Passions could include things like quilting, scrapbooking, geneology, organization, fitness, health issues you've dealt with, humanitarian aid. Anything you really feel strongly about could make a great story.

Follow Your Instincts -
If your ears are open, you'll read a word or two or hear someone say something and it might spark something in you. When that happens, trust that feeling and pursue it. She told of many stories that started with an idea that panned out. One time her sister called and told her there was a contest she was sure she could win in the paper. When she opened the paper, her face fell. It was a contest for the messiest house. Well, she entered and WON! With the before and after pictures, Carolyn wrote an article about herself and it did really well. She was able to spin it and sell it multiple times. All because she followed her instincts and moved forward.

Types of Articles-

I know I didn't catch all of these so if anyone went to this session, please add the ones I'm missing in the comments, but here are the five types of articles I did get:

Informational- This article answers a question. If you want to know more about something chances are other people do too. More about the swine flu, the truth about global warming, more about the effects of mold and where it grows... whatever.

How-to- Begin with your own experience but make sure you FIND AN EXPERT for this type of article. Her example was a story she did on "The Healtcare Jungle" that explained her experience trying to find insurance. If you've been given the run-around, write about how-to avoid your mistakes. She also spoke about "Take control of the clock" and talked to a number of time management experts. She loved it because it was something she wanted to do better. Nothing like free advice AND getting paid for it.

Profile- If you hear or read about someone who's done something remarkable, call them and ask for an interview. She spoke about a woman who was told she couldn't make a scrapbooking magazine but did anyway and just sold it off for $15 million. That's a story! She heard about another woman that was in counseling that was speaking about her adopted teenager. The counselor explained that she had given a baby up for adoption and they found out it happened to be the same child. Wow! The person doesn't need to be famous to be fascinating.

Personal Experience- If you have started a business, lost your wallet, entered a clutter contest. Do wild things so you can write about them- think travel magazines.

Inspirational- As the ecomony gets tougher, inspirational stories will sell well. Look for people that have triumphed and tell their story.

Some tips for how to find people or stories-
The Encyclopedia of Associations is a great resource for finding experts. It should be in the reference section of your library. Don't choose the best expert but the most interesting. One who speaks with visual terms.

Also, Infotrac or EBSCO can give you great articles to start with and you can go from there, expanding or going into more depth.

Find the editor's name to send it to. It may take some digging but you can do it. If all else fails and you have the name, look for the email format of the magazine and guess, based on the other emails.

Also, is worth the $40 per year. When looking for names you can also look in Check under the advertising section or media kit if you can't find the name you're looking for.

If you've got a great story, make sure you spin it and try to sell it multiple times. Organizing your office can be with business magazines or at home. Time management can apply to any number of fields.

Story lengths have changed. A long article is 1000 words. A regular article is only 500 words.

So roll up your sleeves and go for it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

#1- When Am I Done? Editing with Julie Bellon

An overview of the LDS Storymakers Conference

I'm back and filled with such good stuff, I'm almost overflowing. The LDStorymakers Conference was FABULOUS!!! Rubbing elbows with talented writers right and left was awesome. I went to bootcamp led by Heather Moore, was constantly surrounded by Donna and Julia of my own little critique group, sweet ANWA sisters like the incredible Liz Adair, Monique and Marsha, AND fun storymakers like Rachel Nunes, Julie Bellon and Tristi Pinkston.

In addition I met Carolyn Campbell, a string reporter for People Magazine. I can't wait to share some of her techniques and ideas. The keynote speaker was Dean Lorry of Happy Gilmore, Major Payne and the Monster Academy. His overview of screenwriting included little tricks that could make any story better. I couldn't write fast enough.

My plan is to review my notes in blog form for the next few weeks. Today I wanted to begin by giving the highlights of Julie Bellon's great class on editing. In it she answered the age-old question every writer asks themselves-


Julie told us that the key to good editing is simply using the CLAW.
That stands for:

C - Check off basic editing checklist
L - Let someone else read it (actually, three someones)
A - Always print out a hard copy and read it
W - Walk away and leave it for a while before your final review

That's it! Then you're done. She told us to be careful not to edit our projects to death. Stop there, send it out and move on with your life.

So let me go over CLAW in a little more detail.


Checking off the basic editing checklist is made up of two parts- the copy edit and the content edit.

THE COPY EDIT includes these 10 items.
1. Don't trust spell check. Read for common spelling errors like your and you're (one of my favorites), there and their, or the and then (another I like to make.) A friend of mine never wants to conjoin "in to."
2. Check page numbers and blank pages. Sometimes hard returns don't cooperate at the end of a chapter. Flip through the file and see how the layout works on the pages.
3. Check for too many adjectives and adverbs. Adding narrative action instead of simply using an adverb or adjectve is usually a second draft activity. (Even Heather Moore does it.) You can really deepen your characters and improve your story this way.
4. Tense consistencies and verb/subject agreement. This normally shows up green in Word but really, check your green.
5. Avoid cliches. Not only in phrases and descriptions but in storylines. She calls that combo meal stories. You want to be delicious and unique.
6. Repetitive words are a huge issue for people who tend to repeat a lot of things in a repetitive way over and over.
7. We all have favorite words that really don't say anything. They are the "Um's" of writing. Some of these offenders are some, just, really, thing, that, there, one. (I read through my first book and am horrified by the really's and just's. Hey, it was really just my first book, give me a break.)
8. Too many dialogue tags or not enough. (I hate it when you get lost.)
9. Point of view changes.
10. Balance your narrative, exposition and action.

After finishing your Copy Review, you are ready to face the dreaded CONTENT review. For some reason Julie likes the number ten because there are ten of those too.

1. Show don't tell. Do a search for the words feel, feelings or felt and replace it with emotive action.
2. Keep the voice active. Passive voice adds a form of to be. See how many was's you can get rid of.
3. Point of view shifts AGAIN. It's really important NOT to head hop. (Again, a rule I broke constantly in my first book but who's counting.)
4. Chapter Hooks!!! Go to the beginning and end of each chapter and make sure you start with something great and end with a cliffhanger. If you've ever read R.L. Stein's Goosebumps, he was great at this even though he totally cheated. Okay, so don't go THAT far, but it's still worth doing.
5. Does each character have REAL motivations? Sometimes readers won't notice motivations but many writers and ALL editors do. Don't cheat and manipulate characters into behaviors they wouldn't do. In another workshop someone gave a perfect example. If you have a babysitter who needs to go in the attic, and you just have a sound up there so they go to investigate, you have an idiot as a main character and we want to throw the book across the room. If, on the other hand, she is playing hide-and-seek with the kids and she hears a sound in the attic, thinking it's a child she is watching, we are there with you and want to read on. Motivations are REALLY important.
6. Does the setting contribute to the piece? Why have you chosen the setting? Looking at the whole, would a change make it better? You aren't stapled to what you've written yet. Also, do you really describe the setting or just assume we know where you are.
7. Is the timeline consistent? I know writers who use planners or calendars to track ther timelines. Use something because this can be an HUGE mistake.
8. Does the conflict continue to increase throughout the story? Sometimes we try to end the conflict too soon and then keep on writing. Things should get worse and worse for our main character until they are almost defeated. In the end they should have to reach in their heart and find a strength they didn't know they had to finally succeed.
9. Does it have a natural flow or is it too contrived? Could this really have happened? Are there scenes you have to give up or adjust to make it believable?
10. Look through each page at your white space. Are there any pages that are too heavy? If so, add dialogue. Don't make the reader want to skip pages. We are all natural eavesdroppers so use it to your advantage.
***11. BONUS POINTER- Lean up! Cut any scenes that doesn't further the plot, reveal important character points or add intrigue. Okay, so I added this one but I know it's true because I like to go on and on, touching on tangents that don't impact the story in a serious way and have very little to do with it, sort of like what I'm doing right now.


Now, if this seems like a lot to you, don't fear because the next step is easy. You get THREE other people to read it. Three is a great number, if they are the right three. You should get:
-one avid reader who loves your genre,
-one reader who is a strong technical editor and
-one who understands plot and characterization.

Almost everyone knows someone who loves to read. If you are on Good Reads, you might find a fan or you might have a friend who is a total read-a-holic. The gift of this review will probably be more general and the discussion with this person after they read your work may be more useful than what they write down in the margins. Oh, and remember to give this person a hard copy.
Your other two readers can be other writers. If you swap manuscripts, you can develop a nice pool of potential readers that will stay fresh for a long time. If you aren't willing to read other manuscripts, you may find that after a few projects, you've burnt out potential friends- so be careful. Give as much as you take.

When you get back their edits, go through each separately. This will provide three more reviews of your work. Remember, you are almost done.


With copy and content edits and the three reader's edits complete, it is time to print out the entire manuscript. No, you can't just read it off your computer. Actually spend the time and money printing the thing off, even if you have to buy a new ink cartridge. Then read it OUTLOUD. It doesn't matter that your neighbor thinks you've finally gone crazy because you're talking to yourself. You'll see things that may have worked on the page, that don't work in your mouth. Also, it's a great thing to do, if ever you get that book on tape (dream of dreams.)


Not forever. Just for a few weeks. Do something that totally takes your mind off what you've done. Start outlining a new project, clean out your garage or edit someone else's manuscript. When your brain has unraveled its tight grasp on your current project, you are ready to go over it one last time. Enjoy it. See if there is any part that bores you or doesn't sound smooth and clean. Catch the little typos you overlooked. Once you've made it through this final read, YOU ARE FINISHED!!!!

There are very few things in this world that feel better than writing those two little words - THE END. But it doesn't take long to figure out that they are really only the beginning of the editing process. Now, thanks to Julie, I finally know when THE END is really THE END.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Off to Conference

The day after tomorrow I jump in the car and head off to the LDStorymakers Conference at the Marriott in Provo. Last year was my first attending, and it was a fabulous experience. I went with a friend but still felt nervous, not knowing what to expect.

Ths year the nerves are back but for a completely different reason. I'm doing a face to face pitch and perhaps a face to face rejection. It is anxiety-causing to say the least. The good part is that my two partners in rhyme- or at least in prose- are coming along. Both Julia Wagner and Donna Fuller and coming along and doing pitches of their own so we can all be shaking in our boots together.

There is much I'm looking forward to as well. The grammar class alone will be worth the trip. Boot camp will feature specific authors, and I'm really struggling between two-- and I can't switch back and forth. Lastly, simply seeing in person the many friends I've made both through LDStorymakers and ANWA will be a great treat.

So I better roll up my sleeves so I leave a happy famly behind. Dishes, ho!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WaHoo, a Contract! What a Blessing

I got an unexpected email today from Jennifer Fielding, the acquisitions editor for CFI. For Enrichment Meeting a few weeks ago I wrote a fun little poem about a stressed out Mom who has an angel appear to her and ask if she can take over his job for one day. Since I was emailing Jennifer about another project, I decided to include the poem.

Well, she emailed back and said they would like to use it for a small gift book around Mother's day. I say "Awesome." See, good things come from accepting new callings even if they won't release you from cub scouts and you're given a board the size of a small town to manage. I think that's called blessings.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Amazon, Rejection and Editing

So I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I wrote my entire entry in less than a month, because I had a plot bouncing around in my head that was fun and would need little research. When I entered it, I knew it was a little rough but it was a great story and turned out really well.

If you don't know already, I was kicked out during the first round. Ugh. Yesterday I got the reviews and was surprised. Apparently, they liked the story too. The problem was that it wasn't clean copy. So guess what I'm doing this summer. Working on editing, line by line.

I don't know if there is any other way. With my last submission I put it through two writers groups, read it at least ten times and still missed a comma or two. That is something I really need to take more seriously because I know clean copy makes a huge difference.

If your interested, here's what the reviewers said:

Reviewer #1-

I feel like this could be a good story. The plot is interesting, and the pacing is good. I don't feel bogged down with descriptions or a big set-up that just goes on and on.

However, the writing isn't fantastic. There are a few odd word choices - "straddled" where I think the author means "saddled" and a "that" where I think it needs to be a "who", and several places that I would change the sentence structure to feel more natural. There are many unclear antecedents. Several sentences need either another word or a comma, or need to be split up. I mention this only because a well-written story is much easier to stay "lost in." Bad grammar and odd word structure pulls me out, as I start editing rather than reading.

Aside from the errors, it all just feels like it needed one more read-through to polish it up before it was submitted. There's a slight stilted feel to some of the conversations; a need for more contractions or a feel for how people really speak.

I would imagine that some of this could be fixed with a good editor, but I also feel that submissions should be as good as can be if someone's trying to win an award.

With some grammatical help, though, I think the story could be a good one. It's interesting, moves well, and has potential.

Reviewer #2-

This seems to be the beginning of a political/legal thriller. The writer has established some interesting characters, given them some background through the use of a prologue and gotten the action and mystery off to a good start in this brief excerpt. There has been so much action in these few pages that it is a bit confusing at this point but that will most likely be resolved in the next few pages.

The writer has done a very good job with these beginning pages, if the rest of the novel continues in this vein this should be a very exciting novel.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

An Easter Story

For Easter a cousin asked me to write a story for her Primary. It's not an original idea but I think it turned out well and could be used for FHE.

What do you think?

Luke’s Easter Hunt

By Christine Thackeray

The school bell rang, and Luke grabbed his backpack and headed outside to catch up with his friends Thomas and DJ. The three boys always walked home together. They were all excited because Easter was coming.
“Are you going to be at the Easter Egg hunt at the park on Saturday?” Luke asked.
“I am.” DJ answered with a grin. “Last year I got so many eggs that I couldn’t fit them all in my basket. I got more candy than I did at Halloween!”
Thomas shook his head. “Our family goes to visit my Grandma and Grandpa. We have our own egg hunt with all of our cousins. Most of the eggs have candy in them, but Grandpa always puts money in a couple. There’s even one that has a hundred dollar bill in it.”
“Wow!” Luke laughed as they rounded the corner of their street. The boys raced to their doors and waved good-bye to each other. Luke walked into his kitchen to find the table covered with plastic Easter Eggs and bags of candy.
“I’m so glad you’re home!” His mother ripped open a bag of jelly beans. “You can help me finish getting our eggs ready for the Easter Egg hunt tomorrow. I promised I’d bring four dozen.”
“Sure.” Luke threw his backpack in the corner and pulled up a chair. As he pried apart the two halves of the bright orange egg in his hand, he began to wonder something. “Mom, what do Easter egg hunts have to do with Easter? I thought Easter was when we celebrated Jesus being resurrected.”
“You’re right. Good Friday is to commemorate the day Christ gave his life, and Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus rising from the tomb. Remember, we learned all about it last week during Family Home Evening.”
“Yes,” he said. “We talked about the last supper, Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, and the garden of Gethsame. But we don’t really celebrate any of those things, do we?”
His mom put down the fake grass she was holding. “It is funny how so much of what we do on this holiday isn’t directly about Jesus, but many things around us are symbols that stand for the idea of his atonement.”
“I don’t understand.” Luke clicked the filled egg he was working on shut and looked at his mother.
She held a soft pink egg in her hand. “For example the eggs we fill are like little gifts. Just like the gift Christ gave us on Easter. Can you think of a symbol that helps you remember the real meaning of Easter?”
“My Primary teacher told me that the sacrament was a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection.” Luke smiled.
“It is.” His mother nodded. “And it all started with the Last Supper. That was the first time the sacrament was ever given, and it was administered by Christ himself.”
“I’ve got an idea.” Luke took the last package of unopened shells. “What if I go on an Easter Hunt? I’ll look all around for symbols of Easter and see what I can find.”
“That’s a great idea,” said his mother. “You can put what you find in those eggs and when we have our family celebration Easter Morning, you can tell the family what you found. I think you have your first egg filled already.”
“Yup. I’ll put a sacrament cup in it.” Luke said.
Luke’s little sister burst through the door. “I’m home!” She called.
“I can’t believe the time.” His mother said. “Luke, I’ll clean up this mess. Why don’t you go wash your hands then you can help me with dinner?”
He hopped up from the table and walked to the bathroom. As the water poured in the sink, Luke remembered that right after the Last Supper, Christ had washed the disciples feet. He turned off the water and dried his hands, wondering if Jesus knew that would be the last time he was with them. Smiling, he ran into the kitchen and got a piece of paper towel. His second symbol of Easter.

After dinner Luke went outside to play kickball with his sister and Dad. He stood over the smashed shoebox lid that served as home plate. His dad rolled the ball his direction. Luke kicked it as hard as he could, and it sailed over his sister’s head and out into the lawn. He dashed to the tree and touched it and then turned and headed for the old shoe that was second base, but the grass was wet and he slid to the ground, landing solidly on his elbow.
“Are you okay?” his dad ran to his side.
Luke swallowed and held up his injured arm. The skin on his elbow was torn and bleeding. “It stings a lot.” He said through gritted teeth.
Dad led him into the house where he put some ointment and a bandaid on the wound. Luke watched and thought about how much it hurt to spill a little blood. At Family Home Evening his dad had said Christ had bled from every pore. “Hey, Dad? Can I have another bandaid?”
“Sure, what for?” his father handed him one and closed up the first aid kit.
“It’s a surprise.” Luke grinned and put it in his pocket.
As he was getting ready for bed, Luke reached in his pocket and noticed some coins there. He ran down the hall to his parent’s room.
“Mom,” Luke said, “I had thirty cents left over from lunch, do you want me to put it on your dresser?”
Luke’s mom looked up from the book she was reading. “It’s not very much, so why don’t you keep it? You’ve been such a big help today.”
He smiled and turned to leave the room when he stopped. “Hey, Mom, how much money did Judas get for betraying the Savior?”
“It was thirty pieces of silver.”
Luke wrapped his fist tightly around the quarter and nickel, knowing what he would put in his fourth egg.
The next morning Luke asked his dad to tell him more about the Easter story. His father told him about Christ being bound and judged. They put a crown of thorns on his head and nailed him to a cross. Luke found a piece of string on the carpet and put it in his pocket. Outside he got a thorn from one of the rose bushes and found a nail in the garage.
When he came back in the house, he found his mom and sister getting ready to color eggs. They had the cooked white eggs all ready and his mom had vinegar and dye on the table.
“Wasn’t there something about vinegar in the Easter story?” Luke held up the bottle.
“Yes. It’s very sad.” His mother looked down. “When Christ was on the cross he asked for water. He was given vinegar instead, but he refused it. They pierced his side with a spear and he died.”
“That is sad.” Luke’s sister said softly.
“His friends took his body to a tomb but because it was almost they Sabbath, they didn’t have time to prepare it for burial so they simply covered his body with a white cloth.” His mom continued. “They planned to come back at sunrise, when the Sabbath was over.”
“I bet they were surprised when they got there.” Luke smiled.
“Yes, because he had risen.” His mom smiled back.
“I know.” Luke got up from the table with the vinegar. “Can I borrow a little of this?”
“Sure.” His mother gave him a knowing wink, and Luke hurried to the bathroom and poured a little vinegar on a cottonball and put it in his eighth egg. He ran upstairs and found a small spear from an action figure that he put in his ninth and got a little white hankerchief for his tenth.
With only two eggs left to fill Luke felt happy when he heard his mother call to go to the Easter Egg hunt at the park. The whole afternoon he had fun with his friend DJ and collected many eggs filled with candy. It was almost sunset when he was getting ready to leave that he remembered his last two empty eggs at home.
“I can’t believe it. I haven’t been looking for my last two eggs.” Luke shook his head.
“What do you mean?” DJ laughed, pointing to his friends overflowing basket. “You have plenty of eggs. You don’t need any more.”
“No, I’m not talking about eggs filled with candy. I’ve been filling eggs with symbols of Easter, and I have two more to go. I should have been looking.” Luke kicked at the ground and a little stone rolled across the path. “Did you see that?”
“What?” asked DJ.
“That stone. When the women came to the tomb after Jesus had died, they found the stone rolled away.” He picked up the small rock. “This is perfect. Now I just need one more.”
All that night and the next morning, Luke looked. He went to church, took the sacrament and listened to his Primary teacher tell the story again of how Christ gave his life for us. When he got home, he slowly put each of the eggs in a basket and went downstairs, but he was sad. He still hadn’t found anything to put in the last egg.
His family sat in the living room while his mother explained about Luke’s Easter hunt. She told them how he had been looking for symbols of the first Easter, and they were all excited to see what Luke had found.
Luke numbered each egg and handed them out so they could be opened in order as his family told the story. These were the things he had saved.
1. A Sacrament Cup to remember the Last Supper
2. A Paper Towel to remember how Christ washed the Apostles’ feet
3. A Bandaid to remember the blood spilt in the Garden of Gethsemane
4. Thirty Cents to remember the Thirty Pieces of Silver Judas was paid to betray him
5. A Piece of String to remember how Jesus was bound and taken to a judge
6. A Thorn to remember the Crown of Thorns placed on his head
7. A Nail to remember how he was Nailed to the Cross
8. Vinegar to remember the vinegar given to him when he asked for water
9. A Spear to remember the spear in his side
10. A White Cloth to remember the cloth placed upon him in the tomb
11. A Round Stone to remember the stone rolled away from the door of the tomb on the first Easter morning
Luke held the last egg in his hand unopened and lowered his head.
“What’s in that one?” his sister said clapping her hands. “I bet it’s the best one.”
“No.” He opened it and bit his lip. “The last egg is empty. I couldn’t think of anything to put in it.”
His dad stood up and put an arm around his son. “Luke, that’s the best egg of all,” he said. “The best part of the story of Jesus is that on that first Easter morning the tomb was empty, just like your last egg. Christ wasn’t there, he is risen. He is alive and loves us and watches over us today. That is the greatest part of Easter.”
“You’re right.” Luke smiled. “It is the best symbol. He isn’t in the tomb, but watching over us right now.” Luke closed the last empty egg and slid it in his pocket. He felt warm inside and knew that all around him he could now see symbols that would remind him how much Christ loved him and that from now on Easter eggs would help him to remember that love every year.