Monthly Archives: April 2013

Finding Treasures in Family Histories

Julie's wedding - 27Recently, my 108-year-old aunt-in-law passed away. She was born in 1904. She remembered hearing about the Titanic disaster when she was a child. Until a couple of weeks before her death, she lived in the house that she grew up in. She lost her only son when he was 5 years old. Her husband had been a Chicago cop. And, she danced at a family wedding 10 months ago.

Her life was full of stories. And, we listened.

Do you know someone like that in your family? What can you learn from them?

Chances are, they’re not 108. But, people in your family can tell you stories that will help you add color to your writing.

Historical Fiction

Do you need those little details to make your historical fiction believable? Ask your parents what living through the Depression was like. Ask a WWII veteran what down-time looked like in Europe or Japan. Ask a Vietnam vet to tell you about the people he served with.

Incorporate those little, seemingly insignificant details into your writing and it will give it a unique flavor.

Personality Profile

Did someone in your family do something interesting? Maybe they served on the mission field or took part in the search for a scientific breakthrough. Maybe they opened their home to foster children or started their own business in a difficult time.

Tell their story. Their courage, perseverance or other character traits may inspire someone else.

Passing On Advice

Pick their brain. They can share advice on how to make a marriage work for the long haul. They can talk about how to successfully raise children, and how to deal with a child who strays. That straying child may have even been you.

How did they maintain their faith in God through difficult times? How did they learn to stretch the budget when they didn’t have any money? How did they learn to cope with the disappointments of life?

Don’t forget to look for ideas that you can use in poetry, a devotion or in writing for children.

Your family members, especially the older ones, may be more interesting than you think. Talk to them. Let their stories spark a writing idea for you.

© Deborah Christensen

Friday Fun Facts: Anita Loos

You may not know her name but Anita Loos was born on this day in 1888. In 1925, she wrote the humorous book Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was printed in 14 languages and went through 85 editions. It became a Broadway hit in 1949 and a movie in 1953, starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. The song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is from the movie.

Here’s a great blog post from Writing Forward. It will inspire you to find your inspiration wherever you are. You can apply this, no matter what genre you write.

Urban Inspiration: Discovering the Muse in Your City.

Seeds of Truth – Proverbs 2:6

For the Lord gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:6, NIV

What have you needed wisdom for? How did God provide it? How have you learned that His wisdom is far above your own? What knowledge and understanding has He given you? How did it help you through a particular situation? What have you learned from the Lord?

How can you use your experiences in a personal experience piece? How can you use your insights in a how-to article? Is there someone who lives out this verse who you can profile? How can you use this verse in poetry? In a devotion? In fiction? How can you teach children about this verse?

Plowing Together – A Community of Idea Gleaners – Boston

After the events of the last week,

what can you offer your readers through your writing?

Please comment below.

Ideas in the Ashes

boston bombingI normally make the main blog post on Monday. But last week, life got in the way and I got behind. So, I intended to write the blog and post it on Tuesday. Again, life got in the way – this time in the form of bombs at the Boston Marathon.

I didn’t know anyone running. I didn’t know the wounded or those who were killed. But, like many of you, I was glued to the TV and radio, listening to all the reports I could. I prayed as they searched for the suspects. I prayed for those who are still recovering. I wept for families of the dead.

Add to that the devastation of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

Did this happen to you? Did your ideas and your writing go on hold during the last week?

We can, now, begin to recover. As we collect our thoughts, we will find writing ideas. They’re there.

Investigative Reporting

Some find their ideas in the hunt. In the middle of a crisis, they chase down clues, interview newsmakers and experts, and dig to uncover the story. Is that you? We need quality and ethical journalists who won’t write about rumors but who will search until they find the truth.

The breaking news story gets your blood pumping. Pursue it.

Inspire and Encourage

You will find stories of courage in a crisis. Let those stories inspire you. There was the story of the man who lost his son in Iraq who jumped in to help the wounded. There were stories of runners who completed the marathon and kept running to the hospital to donate blood. Instead of running away from the blast, people turned around and ran toward the scene to help.

What gives people the courage to do these things? What do you learn about the way God works?

These stories so inspired me that I wrote a blog post at The Brenner Brief.

Bigger Issues

You may not write about the bombing directly. But, you can use the events of the last week to think about the deeper issues of life.

Why does God allow tragedy? How does someone recover from a tragedy? What steps can people take to be able to move forward? How do you deal with tragedy? How does it affect your marriage? The way you parent? Your relationship with others?

Share your story in a personal experience piece. Share your insights in a how-to article. Pour out your heart through poetry or in a devotion. Help children deal with these painful things.

Write. Use the gifts God gave you to process these events and to help others heal.

© Deborah Christensen

Friday Fun Facts – A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens in 1859, has sold the most copies of any book written in English. It tells the story of the French Revolution. The two cities are London and Paris. It’s estimated that about 200 million copies have been sold.

Seeds of Truth – Proverbs 3:6

…in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:6, NIV

How do you acknowledge Him? How does He make your paths straight? What happened when you didn’t acknowledge Him? What did you learn from that experience?

How can you share your insights in a personal experience article? In a how-to article? Through poetry? How can you use this verse in a devotion? In fiction? Do you know someone who lives out this verse? Can you write a personality profile on them? What can you write to teach children about this verse?

From an Idea Harvester – Robert Frost

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.

Friday Fun Facts – Scott Turow

Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and other legal thrillers, was born on this day in 1949. He was a practicing attorney in Chicago. He wrote Presumed Innocent in a spiral notebook as he rode the train to work. He is considered to be a pioneer of the legal thriller genre.

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