Monthly Archives: December 2011

Seeds of Truth – Psalm 31:24

So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord! Psalm 31:24

How has God helped you be strong and courageous? How have you seen His strength at work in your life? What courageous thing did you do when you knew that courage could only come from God? How did you learn to put your hope in the Lord?

How can you use this verse in your writing?

The Bloom of a New Year

As the new year approaches, it’s a good time to remember the past year and plan for the future. That applies as much to your writing as to the rest of your life.

  • What lessons did God teach you in the past year?
  • What new things did you learn how to do?
  • What unique experiences did you share with your family? Friends?
  • What Bible verses touched you in a special way?
  • How did you grow in your job?
  • How did you grow as a parent? As a spouse?
  • How did you become more effective at home?
  • What kitchen disasters did you live through?
  • What did you learn about relationships?
  • What did you learn about forgiveness?
  • What joys did you experience?
  • What failures did you experience?
  • Did you meet someone who has an interesting story to tell?

This list is just the beginning. What questions appear on your list? How can you turn the answers to these questions into fiction, how-to articles, parenting pieces, meditations/devotionals, features, personal experience pieces, travel articles, etc.?

As you head into the new year, glean your ideas from the past year and write.

© Deborah Christensen

Buds of Writing Ideas from the Joyous Celebration of Christmas

As Christmas dawns on your family and loved ones, it’s time to focus on the Christ Child who was born in a stable and grew up to become our Savior. Even though you’re a writer, you’re a Christian, spouse, parent, child, sibling and friend first. Celebrate Jesus’ birth. Enjoy the time with family and friends.

Tuck your memories away. After you’ve cleaned up the wrapping paper and kissed the last visitor goodbye, pull them out. Then, write.

  • How did seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child help you see Christmas in a new way?
  • What did God teach you about His love?
  • How did you navigate through the sometimes difficult waters of family relationships?
  • How did you learn to appreciate your family more?
  • What traditions did you celebrate?
  • What food did you make?
  • How did you deal with grief through the celebration?
  • How did you celebrate while knowing that this might be your last Christmas with someone you love?
  • What made this Christmas special?

Nurture those memories. Help them bud into writing ideas. Then, write fiction, nonfiction, devotionals, how-to pieces, home and garden articles, personal experience articles, and poetry. Use your writing gift to help others grow through Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

© Deborah Christensen

Gleaning Fiction Ideas from the News

Several years ago, a local newscaster inserted herself into a sensational news story. She thought she was being a good journalist. Instead, she became the story. And, she was fired from her job because of it.

That’s why I chuckled when I heard her complain that “Law & Order” was going to feature her story. She really got upset when she found out that her “character” was the murderer. As it turned out, the episode was only inspired in part by her story. It didn’t tell the real story.

“Law & Order” successfully gleaned their story ideas from the news on a regular basis. Another example of a story they used was Madonna’s adoption of a boy from Africa.

The News is More than the News

Whether you read a newspaper, listen to the evening news or a news channel, or get your news online, you’ll discover a wealth of ideas. You can’t pigeon-hole news. You’ll get everything, from serious news stories to politics to light-hearted stories.

Do you like to write murder mysteries? Love stories? Children’s stories? You’ll find a news story that can inspire you.


How would you solve a crime that occurred in your city? What story can you create around murders, bank robberies, drug raids, etc.? What characters can you develop as police officers, FBI agents, narcotics officers or security guards?

You could write a story based on the actual crime or you could take it in a completely different direction. The crime could serve as the basis of the story or a peripheral scene.


How can you use a traumatic injury or an inspiring win in your fiction? What character qualities do you see in sports figures that you can incorporate into your characters? What sport do you follow? How can you build a story around it?

National Disasters and War

How can your characters deal with the aftermath of 9/11; an earthquake, hurricane, blizzard, or tornado; or the financial meltdown? How does it change them? How does it change their family? How do your characters live through these events?

How do your characters live through the war? Face life with a major injury? Come home from the battlefield? Deal with the horrors of war? Rebuild a normal family life after the military member returns home?

Politics and Espionage

The political arena offers countless avenues for ideas, from elections to issues. Can you create a love story between political rivals? What about a murder mystery? How can you create a story around the global warming issue or the abortion issue?

Tom Clancy weaves intriguing stories based on espionage. How can you create unique stories in this arena? The war on terror? Drug cartels? Israel?

Feel-Good Stories

Most news sources will give you a story that’s uplifting. How can you create fiction inspired by those stories? What fiction ideas can you glean from a story about a woman who turns 100? The rescue of an animal from a chunk of ice? A child who collects money for the poor?

The next time you see a news story, let your imagination go. You may find characters and stories that will help you create readable and appealing fiction.

© Deborah Christensen

Gardening Tools – Theme Lists

“Your piece doesn’t meet our needs at this time.”

As rejection letters pile up, it’s easy to get discouraged. What would meet their needs at this time?

Do you ever wonder what publications really need? Some tell you. They provide theme lists that tell you the focus of future issues. Sometimes, the theme list covers a whole year, other times it’s just a few months. Either way, a theme list gives you a road map for your writing. They tell you what topics the publication will cover and what questions they want answered. You can make informed decisions on what to write and what to send them.

Who uses theme lists? You can find that information in the Christian Writer’s Market Guide.

You can usually find themes lists online. Sometimes, you need to request them. If you’ve worked with a publisher before, they may put you on a list so that you receive the themes lists as soon as they come out.

Take-Home Papers

Publishers produce a wide variety of take-home papers from papers for children all the way through to adults. These papers usually support the Sunday School curriculum. Therefore, the theme lists will be tied to that curriculum. These publications need fiction, articles and devotionals. Many of them are published by denominations. Standard Publishing also publishes an array of take-home papers for all ages.

Denominational Publications

Denominations publish more than take-home papers. In many cases, denominational publications use a theme list. Since these publications feature articles that are important to the specific denomination, you need to familiarize yourself with the denominational beliefs.

Devotional Publications

People use devotional publications to strengthen their walk with Christ. Some devotional publications use theme lists to guide the devotionals and meditations they produce. The publications usually don’t support outside curriculum. They need short pieces, often less that 500 words. Many also use poetry.

Brainstorm for Ideas

The advantage of theme lists is that the publication develops the topic. You create pieces that fit that topic.

When you receive a theme list, let your mind wander. Various topics on the list may spark a memory or remind you of a sermon you heard. If the topic is Praise, think of times when God has used praise to bring you closer to Him. If a take-hope paper is going to address the 10 Commandments in a quarter, think of times you’ve obeyed or disobeyed the commandments.

If you write fiction, use the topics to create stories that convey the topic in a believable way.

Theme lists do half the work for you. They provide the topic. They help you focus so that your writing meets the publication’s needs.

© Deborah Christensen

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