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This topic contains 9 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Joy 3 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #40098

    • Rank: Charismatic Rebel
    • Total Posts: 46

    Hi, everyone! These are just some questions I have about writing.

    1. Whenever I’ve written stories before, I’ve never really thought about theme. Do I pick a theme for my story before I start writing it, or do I just start writing and hope it comes out?

    2. I have several ideas that I really like, but I don’t know which one to pick. How do I go about choosing one?

    3. Having settled on an idea, I have no idea where to start. Do I write an outline for the story or just jump in?

    4. I want to write, but when I’m sitting in front of a computer/notebook, I can’t think of anything. People say that to get over that you should just write whatever comes into your head and see what happens. Is that true, or should I have a plan?

    5. I haven’t written anything in over a year. I feel like writing isn’t fun anymore; it’s just work, but I don’t want to give up on it. How do I get back to feeling excited about writing?

    Any advice or feedback would be great!

    Tagging @daeus @kate-flournoy @emma-flournoy @dragon-snapper @Elizabeth @kina-lamb @Josiah-DeGraaf


    Dragon Snapper
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 2874

    @joy These are great questions!
    1. You should definitely pick your theme first. If there’s anything I’ve learned from KP’s Theme Mastery, is that your story should basically revolve around theme.
    2. I had this problem too. I picked out my favorite ideas of my idea notebook and tried to make a quick overview of each. I went through the process of elimination to find out which one I really wanted to write.
    3. I’ve found through hard trial that I should definitely make an outline first. At least the bones, and a goal. It will help prevent writer’s block in the future.
    4. Well, you can definitely go wild, but you have to careful of rabbit trails. Try to keep to your outline, but if just writing what pops into your head helps you write, you can always go back and change things later.
    5. First thing you should do is pray. Ultimately, God gives us all joy and writing is a talent and a gift that He gives us. Secondly, to get out of that, I personally had to just find a project to work on and work on it hard until I loved it. A few months ago, I was in your shoes. Hadn’t written anything significant in 6 months. Writing wasn’t fun, and I didn’t like what I wrote. At the beginning of my current project, I couldn’t stand anything, but I did force myself to write. Within a few chapters, I fell in love with the story. Now, I still struggle with liking what I write as I’m writing. As I’m writing, I’m thinking ‘this is terrible!’ or ‘who’ll read this?’, but when I come back later, it’s not half as bad as it seemed.

    Joy, this is exactly where I was a few months ago, so if you need more help or if you have more questions, I’d love to help.

    *melts chair*


    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1572

    Hi @joy!

    I’ll answer your questions just like Snapper did.

    1. Choosing a theme can be tricky. During the early chapters of my current WIP, I had one theme, but it’s different now that I’ve gotten further into the story. That being said, I think it comes down to a couple different things.

    –the message you want to share in your story.
    Do you want to share the power of love over hate? Mercy over revenge? Courage over fear? Writing a theme that you are passionate about will help you to pour your passion into the story.

    –the context of the story
    Like I said before, I tried to choose a theme for my story before I actually started writing it, but once I got deeper into the plot, I realized my theme didn’t fit with my plot. So I changed it.

    2. I have this problem sometimes. Balancing ideas is harder. Honestly, I agree with @dragon-snapper‘s method. It’s going to be easier to write your story when you’ve determined what you want each one to be. And once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to decide which one you like best. And if yPin still can’t decide…try writing one and see what you think.

    3. This question is going to prompt a variety of different opinions, and I may not be the best person to answer it. When I outline, I do so very minimally–jot down a few ideas here, a few there. Over time, I’ll start to see a pattern. That’s how plot ideas and character arcs form. It’s not the best method, and certainly not reliable, but it’s working for me.

    …at the moment.

    Another thing I do is keep a notebook. This way, I can have all my ideas in one place. 😉

    4. It depends. If I’m writing a poem or a short story, I usually write it down first, then take that draft and pull from it what I want to keep. Writing like that helps me get the major points in my head, and it helps me exclude anything that might take away from the story.

    I’m gonna separate this into two posts, because my response to the last question might be long.



    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1572

    I can tell you, even though we’ve never met and we don’t really talk much on KP, that I understand where you’re coming from with this last question. And before we get into the mushy-gushy stuff, here’s a couple of hard questions/statements.

    –writing is not for the faint of heart.

    It’s hard. It puts you in uncomfortable places. It tears you to pieces and makes you want to scream at the whole world. But if you love it, then moments like this, when your words seem tasteless and you just aren’t in a good writing mindset, are just part of the job.

    That being said.

    Why are you writing?
    Are you writing for fun? Great. That’s amazing! Roll with it. Explore. Push yourself, do something new. Learn to observe the world around you. Write a song praising God for creating the world. Start working on a poem.

    Are you working to pursue a career in writing? This is where I’m at. This is why sometimes, it’s hard for me to write because I’m pushing against m own standards. I’ve been where you are and here’s the reality: you will fail. You will write drafts that could be a lot better. You will get harsh criticism. But with every day that passes you’re learning, getting better, growing.

    Learn to love the things that make writing hard. Pray. Get on your knees and ask God why he’s given you this desire to write. He’ll show you what you need to see.

    Jeremiah 29:11-13 says this:

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
    ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    See that? God tells us in this passage that he has a plan for us. When you feel lost, cry out to him. It’s what he’s there for.

    Fear not. The Bible says that when we put out into the world the word of God, it will not return void. So whatever you write, write for the glory of God. And you’ll do great things.



    Dragon Snapper
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 2874

    @that_writer_girl_99 *nods sagely* Good, sound advice, my friend.

    *melts chair*


    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 422

    @joy, I don’t want to sound like I’m just repeating @dragon-snapper and @that_writer_girl_99 because that isn’t really going to be helpful for you. but I agree with pretty much everything they’ve said.

    However, when it comes to theme, I’ve never actually planned my theme before writing. That’s just something I’ve never done. my theme comes through as I write. For instance, once I did actually know what I wanted the theme to be before I started a novel. I wanted the theme to be ‘Is everything black and white? are there grey areas?’ I was interested in exploring the way humans decide between right and wrong and God’s place in that, the laws he’s laid down and all of that stuff. The novel seemed to be the perfect place to explore and learn about that. But when I actually started writing, I hardly even touched on that theme because a new theme came through, which centred around loneliness. Loneliness was what I was struggling with at the time and that just naturally became the theme of my novel.
    Anyway, what I’m trying to say in that very long paragraph is just this: You CAN plan your theme (a lot of people do that and works for them really well) but I don’t. I let whatever I struggle with, fear or wonder about, become the theme of the novel (and that approach also might not work for some, but it works for me).

    As Elizabeth said in her reply to your last question, ‘Why are you writing?’ if you’re writing to God’s glory and because it His desire for you, He will help you! You don’t need to worry about that. Pray and ask Him for guidance, and he’ll give it to you. These are two bible verses which I really like and you might like too. Isaiah 40:31 and 1 Peter 1:6-9.


    N. C.
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 794

    *looks around at all this awesome writing advice* *tries to think of something wise to say* *can’t* May I just say I love you all. I’m learning a lot from this thread.

    But not without regard for the double negative!


    Kate Flournoy
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 3852

    @joy yep. What they said, pretty much. I’m just going to add one more thing, and it’s kinda tough… excuse me ahead of time. 😛

    It’s simple. Stop avoiding writing and just write. I know that sounds so callous and oversimple, but it’s so easy to put it off and put it off, and fool yourself (guilty!) into thinking you’re doing something about it by going in circles of asking for advice and mulling over everything you’ve gotten and just not choosing to do anything because you ‘have to make sure you’ve got everything right before you start.’
    Newsflash: you’re never gonna get to where everything’s right. Not this side of Heaven. Setting impossible standards for yourself is the quickest way to failure. You do need standards. But you can’t keep yourself from writing just because you’re not there to begin with. They’re called goals because you haven’t achieved them yet. It’s a ladder. You start at the bottom and work your way step by step to the top.

    Also on the subject of joy… oftentimes it’s easy to get so caught up in progress and ‘doing something for Christ’ with our work that we forget to simply be thankful for this amazing gift of words and imagination He’s given us. I firmly believe that stories are gifts not only for the hearers, but also for the tellers, because even if no one else ever reads them, they’re God’s gift to you of understanding and wonder at His beautiful creation. They’re His way of opening your eyes to the complexity and wonder of the world around you and of giving Him the glory. For you as the recipient of the story, they’re your worship. An adoration of sorts, I suppose. And if that’s not a reason for joy, I don’t know what is.

    • Rank: Loyal Sidekick
    • Total Posts: 237

    @joy, like @seekjustice I don’t decide on a theme beforehand. I like to let the first draft alone in that regard, and then when I’m going through later, I can see what themes are rising naturally from it, and then prune here, or add a bit there, to focus it, or them, better. And sometimes if I do enough rewriting the theme will be completely different at the end. Like the novel I’m working on right now, I thought the first draft was about Loss, and now it turns out it’s about Home and Time, very Psalm 90 stuff, and I had no idea when I was just starting it. (In my experience, also, the ones that grow up like that, instead of being put in, tend to be less preachy?)

    It makes it easier to write the first draft, too, because then you know you can do things like that later, and for now, just focus on telling the story. You don’t have to make it perfect the first time through. That’s very encouraging for more than just the theme.

    On a similar note, outlines. I’m INTP, and let’s just say the P does not stand for Planning. I usually start with a character or scene, and then details sort of snowball. I have noticed, though, that when I start a story with some idea of the middle and end, the story tends to be stronger. If I know exactly how it’s going to end, I don’t finish it. I need to discover things to keep me interested in it, usually. (And then when I do get to the ending I can be very indecisive; @dragon-snapper will know.) But if I can write up a short paragraph like this: “Main character starts here, this happens, X complicates Y, leading to confrontation at Z” and then add a question like “Once you’ve lost for something, is it necessarily gone forever?” or “What if Robin Hood weren’t named Robin, married a girl named Rose (with Beauty and the Beast connections) not Marian, and quoted the Princess Bride and were a pastor?” That’s usually enough to go on with.


    • Rank: Charismatic Rebel
    • Total Posts: 46

    Thanks, everyone 🙂 This has all been really great. @kate-flournoy, you’re right, though – I do keep putting it off and putting it off, both because I’m afraid of what other people might think and because I like things to be “perfect”. I don’t want to be like that anymore, and with God’s help, I’m going to try to move on from it.

    Thanks again for all the advice!

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