Find Your Story

By: Leeann Betts
(revised from original publication in Nuggets of Writing Gold)

At a recent conference, I attended a continuing education class by a firecracker of a teacher, both in her teaching style and in her personality. Rabbit trails she runs, but somehow manages to get her point across. In these classes, she actually had someone in the class keep track of her points so they could steer her back on course after she ran a tangent. Too funny!

At one point in this track, which was titled “Writing that Sings”, the teacher asked us to think about what we write. Not our genre or time period, not the tag line for our website or the elevator pitch for our book, but overall, what do we write.

What do you write?

So here’s the question for you: what do you write? For example, Kim Vogel Sawyer writes about broken people finding healing in the arms of a loving God. Sure, her tag line is gentle stories of hope, but if you look at her characters and plots, all of her characters are broken.

As I considered each of my books, I came to the realization that all of my characters are experiencing second chances — through remarriage, through reconciliation, through overcoming their past mistakes, through overcoming their circumstances. Doesn’t matter which book I consider or even which short story I look at.

So I came up with this: I write stories about second chances from a God who is bigger than our past.

Challenge

I challenge you this week to think about each story you have written, are writing, or are thinking about writing, and ask: what one sentence describes what I write?

Why is this important? I’m not trying to button-hole you into a particular kind of story, but I believe, as the instructor said, when you understand what you write, you’ll see the connection between your stories and your worldview. In my case, I write from the point of view of a follower of Jesus. I’ve had more second and third and more chances than you could count.

While our stories aren’t supposed to be autobiographical, they do convey our worldview. Each one of us has come through a unique set of circumstances, and each of us is equipped with a unique set of gifts and callings. Through this, we have the story of our life, carefully woven into a story others can receive, a story that can take the reader’s broken story and weave it into a beautiful tapestry.

Exercise:

  1. Look at the stories you write, and come up with a sentence that describes the kinds of books you write. Write it down.
  2. Think about the last ten books you read that you loved. How would you describe them? Write that down.
  3. Is there some overlap?

Takeaway: We each have a unique story to tell. The hard work is finding what makes the story different.


Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Christian Authors Network, Pikes Peak Writers, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC. You can follow her on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Her books are available everywhere including Amazon and Smashwords.

What do you write?