The Challenge of Love: Writing Love

Why does love in so many books or movies get relegated to the narrow confines of romance? Yes, romance is love, though much of what is portrayed nowadays is a very shallow love at best. But there is so much more to love than a love triangle or tangled romance. Love can be deep or shallow, directed towards self or others, portrayed in a godly manner or otherwise. There is so much one can do with love as they create characters and stories, be it the presence of love or its absence.  challengeoflove

The most important love which affects your character’s life is their love for God.

Whether the story takes place in the real world, or in a fantasy one ruled by a Great King, the love (or absence of love) for God molds and shapes the character and his worldview. At one end is a character who loves because of the grace and love given to him, who follows such love by obeying the orders of their God, and who shows the same love to others. On the opposite end is the one who disregards the love of his King, who loves only himself and works only for his own gain.

Of course, between these two, there is a wide range of characters, from those who love but don’t trust, to those who are lukewarm, to those who love greatly but place their love on the wrong object or show it in the wrong ways.

There is always going to be some love somewhere: be it for self, for a child, for a leader, for a nation, or for a god. And that is where fascinating backstories can come into play. What does the character love most above everything in the world? Why does he love? And is the object and reason of his love the greatest there can ever be, or might someone else come to his aid and claim that love for his own? And does the love of one beget more love, as in the case of loving God, or does it cause bitterness and hate further down the road?

The most difficult love in your character’s life will probably be loving their enemy.

[Read more…]

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Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

Keystone of The Matter: How to Execute Your Climax

Every element in the construction of a story is important.

The beginning catches the reader, the middle makes them care, and the conclusion satisfies. But the climax…the climax is the keystone of the whole arc. It’s the point which the whole story has been leading to, the turning where success is finally grasped, and the event from which the rest of the character’s life will lead away.keystonepost

And it needs to be done well or the rest of the story, even if it’s well written and intriguing, turns out at bit of a disappointment.

Viewed another way, if the beginning of the story is the foundation of a building, and the middle is the walls, then the climax is the roof…without which you have no house. It is the culminating event in a long chain, during which the main character must finally put to use all he’s learned during the book against overwhelming odds.

The best climaxes will tie together both internal and external struggles.

Regardless of your theme, the internal struggle, be it gathering courage, granting forgiveness, learning sacrifice, etc., is usually solved before the external struggle; [Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

The Writer’s Hardest Challenge…Writing

I’d heard about NaNoWriMo for years before I finally figured out what it was…National Novel Writing Month. Except the goal of writing 50,000 words though the month of November, and the goal of writing a whole novel aren’t quite the same thing for me since my books somehow make themselves quite a bit longer than 50,000 words.hardestchallenge

Anyway, that’s not important. It’s also, I hope, not too important for this topic that I’ve never actually had the time to participate in the November NaNo, though I was part of one of the NaNo camps earlier this year.

Still I am a writer. And one of the keys to completing NaNo, and to writing in general, is to actually sit down and write. Alright, so that’s fairly obvious. But obvious doesn’t mean easy, and writing steadily can be anything but easy.

Still, here are a few tips about how to write regularly and get your book or story done, be it during one month or a dozen.

Make reasonable goals dependent on the time you have.

There’s already the 50,000 word goal for NaNo, but setting a word or chapter count for yourself will help in everyday writing as well. Set yourself a date to get your book or story done by, be it one month or six, and make sure you give yourself a reasonable amount of time. If you’re busy with school and a dozen other things, setting yourself an impossible word count goal on top of that will just cause frustration. The goal doesn’t have to be easy, but it should be doable. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

Focused Hues: How Graphic is Too Graphic?

How graphic should one be when writing a battle scene?

When forming a beating or torture scene?

When describing the dark rituals of some fantasy druid?

These, and hundreds of related queries are valid questions. And yet, to answer inquiry with inquiry, there’s one question which can help clear up this confusion. And the answering question is this: where does your focus lie?

As Christians, when we write a story, what are we trying to focus on and portray?focusedhuespinterest

Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and are of virtue and praise. This would include what we watch, listen to, read, and, of course, what we write. There’s trouble in every story, as well as darkness, danger, and perhaps violence, but what is your focus on? The good or the bad? The golden hope and light, or black despair and darkness? As Christians, our point shouldn’t be to get a story as dark and gory as we can without stepping over the line. The point is to glorify God though our writing, and as we take up the pen or sit down to type, we need to keep that in mind. Darkness and violence may (and, quite often, do) have their own place, but don’t write dark and gory scenes simply for their own sake or to add shock value to the story.

“Still, as every painter knows, it takes the dark shades to bring out the vividness of the light. Which brings us back to the original question of how much darkness a Christian writer should put in their story.” 

The most common question, and also the broadest, involves how much blood, gore, and violence should be shown in a book or story. Like many things which aren’t really a ‘sin issue’, different writers will have different convictions on this topic, and unfortunately there isn’t a hard line of ‘over here, everything is acceptable and good, but on this side everything is bad and wrong’. Somethings are obviously good, some are obviously unnecessary and over the top, and yet the majority of these red colored queries are tinted with gray and depend on the circumstances. It can make things a pain to figure out sometimes, but here are a few guidelines which will hopefully help.

First, don’t write something that you’d be uncomfortable reading yourself.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

How Skeletons Can Help Your Story

I view outlines as the dry bones of a book or article.

The inner structure of a story, invisible and yet affecting the shape of the final work. Of course, sometimes these skeletons are larger and more detailed than others. And sometimes major bones are missing. When I sat down to outline this article, the finished product was messy and splintered. Talk of irony…how do you outline an article about outlining? But I digress.

At the very outset, let me say that every writer has their own views on the usefulness and manner of outlining. Some people don’t outline at all. Personally, I like to outline almost everything I write. And I think that at least a basic outline is of great help to any writer skeletonsto help keep the shape of your story as you flesh it out (pun partly intended). The bones help you keep in mind what you are aiming for, and may cut down on major rewriting later on. Having said that, I’m sure there are many different styles of outlining and an almost unimaginable depth you can go, so I’m going to simply focus on what has worked for me.

Outlining is…well, outlining.

For me, it also involves a number of brief synopses laying out a rough draft of what happens and in what order from the beginning of the story to the end. At the same time, these bones need to be flexible to change at any stage. They aren’t rules, they are more like…guidelines. My own outlines change multiple times, and the longer the work, the more often I tend to rearrange parts of the skeleton.

My first outlines, no matter what I’m working on, ends up very sketchy. It involves a lot of thinking, mumbling to myself, writing contradictory points, and backspacing. Basically, I get a rough idea of the whole story or article. There are normally minor, or even major, details that need to be figured out, but the basic pieces are in place. Here’s an example of what I could have written for a book of my own: [Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

A Three Tiered World

By Hope Schmidt 

I’ve created three fantasy worlds in the past four years. Designing worlds, writing legends, holding the first printed copy of your book…it carries a thrill of creation. Of bringing to light something which didn’t exist before.

For those on one end of the spectrum, creating worlds is exciting and it can be tempting to avoid actually writing the story while forming layer upon layer of details worthy of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. On the other end of the spectrum are those who want to get the world building over as quickly as possible so they can move onto the story. In either case, it’s important to have enough development in your world so the story rings true and yet not get so bogged down or glide so high that you don’t ever move on with the story by which this world will be known. 3tieredworldpinterest

It may be easiest to view your world like a three-tiered structure and, while I’m focusing on fantasy worlds here, this same template could work if you are writing about our own world in the far future.

 

3 Tiers to every story world

 

1. The Foundational Tier

The first, or bottom level is the Foundational Tier of your world. This is your geography. The lay of the land. Whether you have one nation or several, there are the same basic formations such as rivers, forests, mountains, cities and roads. National lines need to be drawn and the nations themselves named (there’s no need to worry about national flags and cultures yet…that will come in a bit).

Also part of this first layer are fun details, like how many suns and moons your nation has. And then there are other aspects which you may or may not decide to develop depending on whether you need them or not…details such as what stars travelers use to guide them, nighttime constellations, weather patterns, unique storms, and length and type of seasons.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

Realities of War

Swords flash. Shields clash. Spears glint. Horses thunder across the plains. Grim lines of soldiers advance and retreat. Flags flutter and trumpets blast amid the glittering glory of battle.Realities_of_War

This is what may come to mind when the word ‘war’ appears in a fictional or fantasy setting, but it’s a far shout from the bitter, slogging endurance of a real campaign.

A war builds up long before the first battle lines clash.

How many details actually appear in the story depend on the writer’s choice and what time the book starts, but there are many things which should be known about the ‘pre-war’ weeks, months, or even years.

Are there tensions between the two nations (assuming, of course, this isn’t a civil war)? War is a grave matter, not to mention expensive, so what has led two or more nations to such a confrontation?

And are both sides at various levels of fault, or is there definite division of evil and good?

The most common story-line is for one nation to invade another. The invaders, of course, are bad while the outnumbered and battered resisters are on the side good. (But what if the stereotype was reversed? Hmm…it’s worth a thought. But back on topic).

Is the attack a complete surprise? The invading nation has had to gather troops and supplies, so have such signs been noticed? And if not, is it because of laziness, carelessness, or expert security on the invading side…any one of which could be yet another obstacle in the way of the ‘good’ army?

In either case, whether with months to prepare or mere hours, organizational networks need to be set in place.

How many men sign up or are drafted into the army? Depending on the size of your country, this could be a considerable percentage of men. At this point, many of the younger men may think of war in terms of glory and heroics, while their elders remain silent and serious. And, as the army’s numbers swell, the villages and towns change. A quarter of the men may be gone. Or half the men. The mothers, daughters, elderly, and young children must now tend to the fields to keep life going as before…and more.

Logistics

For there is bustle on the home front as well. Weapons must be supplied for all soldiers. Food, tents, clothes, medicines, boots, bandages…the list of supplies could go on and on. Someone has to make and transport these things. And that someone isn’t going to be the steel clad soldier now lining up to give his life, if need be, in defense of those he loves.

And, of course, the armies of both sides must meet before the first battle takes place. An army moves an average of 10-30 miles a day depending on many things, such as seasons, roads, weather, number and formation of troops, and their condition. The Roman army regularly traveled 15-18 miles a day, and then stopped in mid-afternoon and set up camp, complete with trenches, a solid wall surrounding orderly tents, and roads laid out regularly throughout the whole. The next morning they tore up the logs, burned what they didn’t carry with them, marched another day, and rebuilt the fortress that evening.

However quickly the army moves, they need to protect their baggage train. Supplies of all kinds must be carried along for the army’s well-being, but this baggage train can be quite troublesome for an invading army. And the further they move into an enemy land, the longer supply lines will stretch and the more vulnerable it will be…unless they can get all the supplies they need from their defeated enemy. Relying solely on the enemy’s land can be a risky proposition however…especially if the invaded decides to retreat, burning fields and stopping up springs as they go. This is known as a “scorched earth policy,” famously employed by the Russians on multiple occasions, much to the chagrin of Napoleon and Hitler.

Non-combat casualties

Just as preparations for war starts long before the first battle, so many lives may be lost without a blow being struck. Disease does not spare victors from vanquished, but strikes everywhere with a heavy hand. In many wars, the number of soldiers who succumb to sickness are several times greater than those who fall in battle. In the American Civil war, dysentery, typhoid, and pneumonia were among the top three killers, with two out of three deaths due to disease of some kind. The number was even greater among English troops in the Napoleonic era.

If your story takes place in the future or present, sickness might not be as great a problem. Even a fantasy-style medieval army could cut their losses by basic protocols which, obvious though they may seem, can be overlooked…such as camping on dry ground away from swamps and making sure latrines are downstream of wherever the army’s drinking water is drawn from. While all these details may not even be referenced in a book, it is something to keep in mind. And, if you need another challenge to throw at your characters, a deadly epidemic is in no way unrealistic.

Battles

Finally, one day, both armies ‘see each other in the face’. They may or may not attack the first day. Roman armies would sometimes march out and face each other for several days before the battle took place. Sometimes one general would draw up his soldiers, taunting the other in an effort to draw them into an attack. Positions may be shifted and secured. But, eventually, one or both sides will move and the battle will be joined.

Battles are not necessarily won by one glorious (or not so glorious) charge. Sometimes one army will charge the position of the other, while other times they meet at the center of the field. A running charge is for the practical purpose of closing the distance between armies and so escaping javelins and arrows as quickly possible. All too soon the flying projectiles are exchanged for the dubious security of hand to hand fighting as both sides meet and the battle proper begins. And the soldiers, now fighting for their lives amid the heat, screams, and blood of battle are quickly disillusioned to whatever thoughts of glorious combat they may have had.

A battle’s length varies. Some battles last two or three hours. Others are fought from dawn and into the night. In the Bible, some battles were fought all day with the victors pursuing the enemy all night. Others battles are fought for several days in a row before one side conquers the field.

As the battle progresses, there are many minor details that should be kept in mind to add to the feeling of reality. For example, what direction is your army facing? Is the sun behind them or in a position to blind them (or to the side where it could do either)? Keep in mind that if the sun rises behind your troops, it will eventually set before them and get in their eyes if the battle progresses into the afternoon. What is the weather like…sunny, overcast, windy, stormy? Weather is very important and can be used as a help or hindrance. And the geography…are there hills to retreat to, forests to ambush from, or a solid anchor for the flanks?

Most of all, what of the soldiers? Many of these men are probably killing for the first time. They are horrified and terrified. Men, comrades, friends are dying about them. Some are struck down. Others are wounded and, unless they can move, run the risk of being trampled underfoot. Yet the soldiers fighting must ignore the cries of their comrades and struggle on.

And, no matter what weapons your army is using, death is never pretty. Swords don’t just stab cleanly through the heart and neither do bullets. Blood. Severed limbs and bodies. Raging thirst. The stench of battle. Screams of the wounded. Vultures, perhaps, circling overhead. You get a portion of the picture. Choosing how graphically to portray the battle is another topic, but what the men are seeing is something that will affect them mentally and emotionally for months and years to come.

The end of a battle rarely ends in the complete destruction or capture of the vanquished army. And sometimes, if the battle ends in a rout, more men are killed as they flee than were cut down in the fight itself. The pursuit, either on horse or foot, can last the whole night and into the next day.

Aftermath

Many books and stories close with the victory of the hero and his army, but that is hardly the end. Hundreds, thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of dead from both sides cover the ground. And, mixed with those who gave their life for their cause, are the wounded. Depending on the situation, a truce might be arranged so the opposing side can carry away their casualties. Or it might be the task of the weary victors to clear the field, tending to the wounded and dying as best they are able and quickly disposing of the fallen. This gruesome task can drag on for several days. There’s also spoil to be gathered and perhaps riotous soldiery to control. On top of this, there are still normal mundane things to attend to, such as watches on the camp, care for prisoners, and the steady supply of food. Weather and animals, such as the aforementioned vultures or wild dogs, can also complicate matters.

And that’s just the first battle. Some wars are completed in the spring or summer of the campaign season. Others drag on for years. Armies march and counter march, taking passes, holding cities, and trying to starve each other by cutting off supplies. More men are drawn into the ranks from back home and eventually another battle is fought, and yet another, and another until one side surrenders, is defeated, or a treaty of some kind is worked out.

The length and ferocity of any war has long reaching effects. Quite often, famines are coupled to war due to the shortage of men to raise crops, as well as the destruction of fields by the armies on both sides. With many men being cut down, there will be numerous families living without the head protector of their home, and many children growing up without a father. A shortage of young men of marriageable age may also be a real possibility in some parts of the country.

Quite often, in books, a single crushing defeat repels or destroys the enemy. This is theoretically possible, but after a nation has braced itself for war, they normally won’t back down after a single battle. Even if the ‘good’ army, who is normally outnumbered, manages to completely defeat and conquer the invading army, the belligerent nation can probably raise another army to send against the now battered conquerors. So make sure the ensuing peace is realistically brought about, perhaps by a wiser leader who’s risen after the fall of the main villain, or by the combined outrage of the people of the opposing nation who never wanted the war in the first place.

But no matter who wins the war, the land has changed. Things will never be exactly as they were before. Hundreds and thousands of men are dead, their families shattered and mourning. Others come home, wounded or with sights they will never forget emblazoned in their mind. Young men are now old in the horrors they’ve seen. Treasuries are drained, villages are burned, fields lie fallow.

Though war is sometimes necessary, and in books is commonly part of the plot, it isn’t pretty, it isn’t glorious, and it isn’t to be desired. Heroics consist of normal men doing what needs to be done in the face of fear and death. In the place of the glorious feats the young soldiers once dreamed of, there is a comradeship and strong love among the troops. A love for those they defend, and a brotherly love among themselves. For no greater love has any man, than that he lay down his life for his friend.

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

Winning The Battle Against Writer’s Block

By Hope Schmidt

The battles of life take many shapes and sizes, and writing is no exception. Glaring plot holes, inconsistent characters, and tangled timelines oppose the author in their turn. And then there’s writer’s block.

Surrounding us with a confusing mist of ‘what should we write?’, these battles can be among the most challenging we face as an author.

Writer's Block

Simply not wanting to write isn’t true writer’s block. That’s another battle altogether, a battle of diligence and discipline.  You have your story. You know what comes next. But lethargy strikes and you simply don’t want to write. It happens to me quite often but can be overcome through dedication and focus.

Set deadlines

To keep this focus I like to set deadlines for myself, such as writing three chapters a week or getting a story finished by a set day. Or you could set a minimum word count per day, be it a hundred words or two thousand. Or set a time limit…even if it is just fifteen minutes a day.

In the end, it comes down to self-discipline. Do you really want to write? If you do, then you must be willing to write even when the wave of inspiration is in retreat (it will return, just give it time). If writing is a high priority, then make at least a little time to write and discipline yourself to actually sit down during that time and write. It is possible, even if it means getting up a little earlier or not playing so many video games or reading so many books.

But what about when you can’t write?

The medical definition for writer’s block in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: ‘a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece of writing.’ A more down-to-earth definition rephrases it a bit: ‘the problem of not being able to think of something to write about or not being able to finish writing a story, poem, etc.’ And my ‘epic’ definition is: ‘one of the writer’s most feared enemies who inhibits the power of transferring words to a blank page and who must be vanquished’.

Now, whether we think of writer’s block as a ‘psychological inhibition’, an aggravating problem, a battle, or simply an excuse to take a break from writing, chances are most writers have been forced to deal, in some way or another, with writer’s block. But, persistent an enemy as it is, writer’s block can be defeated.

The foundational key to conquering writer’s block is to want to. This sounds obvious, I know. But if you seriously want to write and are stuck in the middle of the story, don’t surrender. Writer’s block isn’t an excuse for not writing, it just another foe to be defeated. But you must be willing to put forth the effort to break through to clearer inspiration.

Isolate the problem 

The first step is to isolate the problem. Normally something in the story enables the writer’s block to take hold, be it a character who isn’t cooperating, a mangled timeline, or a plot gone awry. Maybe you’ve outlined your story and know what’s supposed to happen in a particular scene or chapter, but can’t figure out how to go about it. Or maybe you haven’t outlined at all and have no clue what happens next. Whatever the case, detecting the basic obstacle makes it much easier to close the breach.

Once you know where to look, try to reason through the problem, methodically setting aside what won’t work and playing with the ideas that could solve your difficulty. You can either do this as yourself, the author, or you can view the problem from a different perspective. Maybe put yourself in the place of one of the guards of the castle that your hero or villain is trying to break into (or out of). How about a prisoner in the dungeon, or a captain in the army? Whether you work the stories as a mental exercise or write the scene out, everyone, from mentor to page boy, will provide diverse and intriguing possibilities. Quite often I write these ‘alternate views’ as letters or diary entries.

My favorite view to default to is the villain’s. Once, when I knew where I wanted the captured sister of my hero to end up, but couldn’t figure out how to get her there without her being discovered by her brother, I pictured the scene through the villain’s eyes and was able to plot out a route and the reasons for it being chosen.

Talk it out

Another helpful prompt is to talk. Detail out your problem to a friend and quite often you’ll come up with ideas even as you outline what’s gone wrong. And you can pray. God should be part of every moment of our life and, just as He cares for the large battles we face in the world, so He cares about our (relatively) small ones against writer’s block.

And you can talk to yourself. Weird? Maybe. Helpful? Very much so.

Of course, to give the impression that I’m at least partly sane, I normally only talk to myself while alone. When we had goats, I’d talk while I milked them. Other safe havens include muttering to myself from a treetop or while taking a shower. Or I might take to the field below our house and pace back and forth for nearly half an hour while working through some troublesome knots in a story.

A close second to talking to oneself is writing to oneself. I’ve done this while planning out characters…writing my ideas down as if I were arguing back and forth with myself about the best course to take. You may be surprised at how many ideas this simple (and perhaps insane-sounding) method produces.

Quite often, if the problem resists being reasoned into oblivion, either through other character’s views or through persistent talking on my part, I’ll try a different tactic. The ‘what if’ method.

The ‘what if’ method

What if this guard was actually a sympathizer of the hero? What if the villain gets lost while hunting and unknowingly stops at the hero’s house for directions? What if the hero underestimates his opponent…or overestimates him? The possibilities are as limitless as your creativity to think up ‘what if’s’. Some ideas produced won’t fit, some might be worth stories of their own, and others just might change your story for the better and break through that attack of writer’s block once and for all.

So identify the problem, try to reason through it, either as one of your characters or simply talking to yourself (or you could try a ‘character/author’ argument), and ask ‘what if’ about everything. And, above all, don’t give up. The answer might break quickly. Or it might take a few days and many sighs and discarded scribbles. But the answer will come.

Above all, don’t give up.

Once you are able, sit down and write. Even if you don’t quite like how the scene is playing out, write it anyway. It is much easier to go back and correct or even rewrite a scene once it’s already written, than to wait until the scene is perfect in your mind before writing it out. First drafts were made to be rewritten. More strikes by writer’s block may (and, let’s face it, probably will) attack, but victory by victory, page by page, correction by correction, your story will come together.

The creation of a great story is by no means easy. There are times it isn’t even fun. But ‘fun and easy’ isn’t what writing, or life, is about. So if you have a story to write, then stick to it. Write for the glory of God and don’t be dismayed by the various troublesome aspects of writing and the occasional attack by writers block. It’s merely another challenge to be overcome; another battle to be won.

To paraphrase an inspirational quote I once saw, I’m not telling you defeating writer’s block will be easy. I’m telling you it will be worth it. So take up your pen, sit yourself down, commit yourself to the battle, and claim the victory.