A Great Exercise for Rookie Writers

rookie writers

Writing an episode from your Christian testimony is an exercise that will teach you a lot about story.

If you’re a fiction writer, you will get great benefit from writing the true story of something Jesus did for you. If you are a non-fiction writer, writing that story will help you work on conveying information more engagingly.

At the heart of every story is conflict. Call it also challenge, problem, setback, disappointment, hang-up, difficulty and any number of other similar human conditions that can bring us down.

Without conflict, you have nothing but an account. You do not have a story.

Since Jesus intervenes most memorably in our lives when the chips are down, there will always be a story in how He helped us.

The conflict can be great or small.

In my work teaching people to share their Christian testimonies with confidence, my students have chosen stories as scary as an attack on their person by would-be murderers and as low-key as finding the courage to step across the threshold of a church and go inside.

The results have been equally powerful.

It is the telling that counts.

When you come to plotting your story, the point of change and outcome that every story needs in order to function as such will be clear to you, because you know this story well. It may be a little challenging to get to the heart of what Jesus’ intervention adds up to but you have the great advantage of knowing what happened, because you lived through it. You also know the characters, since the main character is yourself.

Working on an episode from your testimony will bring other, hidden benefits. You will find your faith will grow stronger as you revisit what Jesus did for you. You may even find the courage to share what He did with someone who desperately needs to hear something uplifting.

At the very least, you will be able to say that your story reached an audience.

A good place to start is with a prayer for guidance by the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to show you the episode Jesus would like you to remember.

Divide what happened into scenes. The old adage SHOW DON’T TELL is a good one.

Sitting in your bedroom, gazing out of a window at the stars, when a realization hits you is more vivid and interesting than a bare statement like, ‘I knew that…’

If possible, work the story problem into the first sentence. It should definitely be crystal clear by the end of the first paragraph. Then your reader or listener will understand what topic you are tackling.

Starting with the problem is also a lot more impactful than scene-setting.

For example, if you had witnessed a bank hold-up, you could start with the gunmen emerging from the bank, brandishing sawn-off shotguns and shouting.

This could be followed by your feelings about this and what you did next.

Only after this would come the information that you had been quietly minding your business, walking down the hill from work, with the leaves falling around you, wondering what you would have for supper.

So many people start there and keep their audience hovering, wondering where this might be going.

Having described the event that challenged you, which, of course, might even be that Jesus was showing up and you didn’t want Him to, you can move onto the point of change.

This will be when something happened to change things. It may be that Jesus intervened in a problem. It may be that something happened to make you look at things differently.

How did you react to this change? Why did you react as you did?

Finally, what was the outcome?

There, you did it. Plotting this ‘short story’ will deepen your understanding of story structure.

My FREE Story Structure Success Sheet will take you to the next level. You can get it here: http://testimonytrain.com/tighter.

QUESTION: We’re all rookie writers to some degree. What kind of rookie mistakes have you made in your writing, and what have you done to get better in your writing?

  • Andy

    If you need tips on your writing, have a professional editor look over your writing. To me http://www.CogitoEditing.com has been helpful!

  • Adam Dalton

    I never considered this type of exercise; however, it appears to be an excellent exercise that can be beneficial for those of us that are trying to learn to express our message. Thanks for the advice!