These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.
Making a point or having a theme is probably the single most difficult "point" I struggle with. I also like the way ( in either #1 or #2) that you earmark that those trying to write emotionally laden content - especially when adapting personal experience into a piece - often miss this aspect of writing, including enough background for inclusion to get the point across in the first place.
What is your experience with theme gradually forming itself first while writing the draft and solidifying during editing vs. trying to begin with a theme that I would like to convey from the gitgo? Is there a technique or secret to craft something so that it doesn't come off stilted and artificial, simply a skeleton to hang my ideas from?
Catherine - Keep Lookin' Up!
I suppose it differs for each writer. When I write, I start out with only a vague idea (ooh, a story about a hoarder might be interesting...), and the theme develops along with the plot. Others may start with the point they hope to make (oooh, relationships with hoarders are difficult, and the disease may be stronger than the relationship...) and build a story around that point.
As to your final question--yes, there's a secret to crafting your writing well with that purpose in mind. In fact, there are several:
2. Write some more
3. Listen to criticism from excellent writers
4. READ excellent writers
5. Repeat # 1-4
That probably seems a bit facetious on my part, but truly, there's no better way.
Could not agree more.
FaithWriters' Writing Challenge Co-ordinator
Breath of Fresh Air Press
Breath of Fresh Air Press - a little publisher with a lot of heart
Good food for thought...thank you.
Catherine - Keep Lookin' Up!
What if my point is my message at first and then my message morphs back into my point? Is there any hope for me?
Hmmmm. I can't tell if this is a real question or not. If so, can you clarify a bit?
If not, then the answer is no. There is no hope for you.
I'm curious where you find this to fall on the continuum. I can't clearly connect it with one of the six, hopefully one of the four, as I feel it has a point beyond entertainment.
I would say that it is a significant supporting character who is learning a lesson, maybe... So perhaps closest to 2 or 3?
My poetry definitely tends toward 1, but I try to keep away from that in fiction. I think, mostly, I prefer for the action to illustrate any message, without stating it explicitly, though I had done that, too, being especially fond of metaphors...
And since I'm inclined toward rabbit trails, would you say that this is omnitient narration, or that I head-hopped as one commentor asserted?
"There are two ways of spreading light -- to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it." Edith Wharton
'It is better to be liked for the true you, than to be loved for who people think you are.'
"In order to realize the worth of the anchor, one needs to feel the stress of the storm." Daily Encouragement Net (Stephen & Brooksyne Weber)
Holly, I'd say that this is closest to #4, in which the reader has an aha! moment. In this case, it would be something along the lines of I should make assumptions about the blind and what they're able or unable to door even I bet those two are going to get together--it's cool how life works like that.
Boy this is a tough one! I like to think that all my writing has a specific point, theme, or message and like to always include or at least point to scripture. Also, I still like to use the old writer's rules of: Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why! These usually help me get started on a topic and result in having a strong focal point.
But after reading the lesson, I realize to be creative I need to really practice on introducing conflict and love the idea of my reader having to analyze then reaching a "aha" moment! Thanks so much for the lessons!
You're welcome--remember that a subtle point that the reader has to discover on her own may be more effective than one that is told her outright--because if she thinks of it, she's more likely to remember it.
Also, those old writer's rules refer far more often to nonfiction--specifically, journalism or report-writing--than they do to fiction. If done well, really good fiction might leave our a "W" or two, and still convey its point.
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