Mom.” My son giggled. “You’re a girl and you baited a hook.”
I smiled at my boys lined in a
row and waiting for me to squeal at the cup of worms.
“You bet. I love to fish and
you can’t fish if you don’t bait the hook.” I swiped the slime on my
shorts, popped the release on my reel, and cast the line. The red and
white float zinged through the air then plopped at the edge of a
jutting rock. “Now we wait.”
Little did I know my fishing
experience would later teach me to write good devotions. Seems like a
real stretch, eh? Not really—not when you write with fishing in mind.
As writers, we’re all gifted differently. Some of us love writing
romance, others suspense, some historical or nonfiction. Regardless of
your chosen genre, the basics lie in a devotion . . . well, in fishing
When I ask writers to pen a
devotion, their eyes roll. “I don’t write devotions. I write fiction.”
“And your point is?” I ask.
There’s great skill in writing
devotions. Not only does it improve your relationship with God by
dropping you into His Word, but there’s a certain consciousness
to a devotion. You’re forced to say a lot in a very small space. The
skill of writing tight is suddenly revived. One
romance writer commented, “I’d forgotten how important writing
devotions is. It’s hard. It made me work.” It’s true. Devotions are the
perfect writing workouts.
So what does fishing and
devotions have in common? We bait the hook, cast the line, set the
hook, then reel in the catch. It’s all about fishing. I’d like to
return you to the old school method of writing—Hook, Book, Look, and
Took. When you write (whether it’s a devotion or a chapter) with these
elements, your work will be well-rounded. The hook, book, look, and
took method offers you a solid foundation.
Begin with a hook and bait the
line early. As a writer you understand the importance of a good hook,
but threading the worm early (in the first line or so) tempts and
tantalizes the reader. The world is full of busyness, and if you want
your reader to stick with you, then thinking through a good hook is
valuable. Drawing your readers in immediately raises their curiosity,
strikes a chord, and bonds them to the words. It makes them keep
reading. A hook sets the tone and pace of the work. So let’s go
“Trout like the cold water and they like bright lures.” He drew the rod
back and cast. The lure whistled past my head and sailed gracefully
through the air, landing with a plop into the cold mountain stream.
Once we’ve baited the hook, we
have to cast the line. In writer’s terms, we move to the “book.” The
book is where you present your point or interpretation of the
Scripture. It doesn’t mean you repeat the Scripture you’ve chosen, but
it means you lay the groundwork of the story. This is where
you begin to develop the paragraphs the reader will count as
other words, you begin to tie the Scripture to your story and make a
“relatable” moment for the reader. One they remember.
I had the privilege of fishing with my uncle only once. I don’t think
he made it a habit of taking along extra baggage, but Mom was in the
hospital and Dad was forced to work, so he’d
volunteered to watch me
for the day. I was just little, but I remember my uncle strapping a
bright orange life jacket around my chest and then his allowing me to
slip on the giant wader boots. If anything came from the day, the boots
were a hoot.
I watched as he slowly
reeled the line, jiggling the rod just enough to make the lure dance.
“You gotta tempt the little scutters,” he said. “They’re easily
The lure inched its
way toward the end of the rod. My uncle smiled. “Watch now. We’ll catch
us a fish.” Within moments, the end of the rod bowed and the line
whirred as a rainbow trout leapt above the wash and slammed back into
the water. The
fight was on...my uncle carefully reeled and
released, reeled and released as the fish fought frantically. When the
battle was over, the fish lay sprawled on the rocks, lure hanging from
its jaw. Dead.
you’ve laid the groundwork then move on to “look,” or snagging the
catch. The “look” portion of your devotion is where we observe the
bigger picture and bring home a practical application. Readers love to
feel our struggle but they love more to understand our resolve and this
is what we do in the “look” portion of a devotion—we bleed our wounds
and tie in how Christ has offered us resolution, even if it’s not what
I learned more than one lesson that day. I learned my uncle enjoyed
tempting the fish almost as much as he enjoyed the catch. But I also
learned how easily enticed I could be. My uncle warned me about the
hooks hanging from the lure and still, like the fish, I wanted to touch
it. So when the end of my finger felt the prick of the hook, it didn’t
take long for me to suffer the consequence of sin.
That’s how sin
works—tempting by desire, and once we’ve taken the bait, the ripple
effect begins. A sin to cover the sin, to cover the sin . . . We give
birth to a pallet of fallacies, and if we ignore the consequences, the
ultimate result is our demise.
Finally, we reel in the
catch—the “took.” Once we’ve given the hook, shown the book, honed the
look, it’s time to offer the reader a takeaway. Many think devotions
should be sweet, airy, or restful. But devotions are meant to make the
readers think. Hopefully you’ll offer them a bit of unrest, a reason to
want to change things in their lives. “Took” is the part of the
devotion that allows you to pull in the catch . . . change a life.
Offer the readers a challenge. Lead them to make a decision and accept
the challenge to make a change in their lives. This is what makes the
Life offers us lots of lures—shiny, tantalizing, and fun. Learning to
seek the truth opens our eyes to the hooks. Don’t be enticed by the
beauty of the lure. Christ can satisfy your desires.
Christ charged His disciples to
be fishers of men, and He gives us that same challenge. Brush up your
skills, take on a challenge and write a devotion. It’s a great
responsibility to write a devotion. You’re responsible to Christ for
your words, so choose them carefully. Apply the Hook, Book, Look, and
Took method to your work—bait the hook, cast, set, and reel in the
catch. You’ll be surprised what you can do for God and for your