Archive for the ‘Creativity and the Arts’ Category


Simmer Starters – April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016

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I Love Teenagers (The Eventure Project) – YES!  Love this.  I grow oh-so-tired of the derogatory way people speak about teens, making fun of their immaturity when they’re just at the very beginning of their journey, or scorning their attempts to be adults when this is their time to grow into adulthood.  A good read!

A Response to ‘An Open Letter to Rey’ (Mirriam Neal) – I enjoyed this one for several reasons, but I especially loved the explanation of the term “helpmeet” and what it breaks down to in Hebrew: “Ezer Kenegdo – a military ally who goes before you. A helpmeet is a fellow warrior, designed specifically to ride into battle alongside someone else.”

Why I Write Scary Stories for Children (N.D. Wilson) – Good food for thought here!   As usual, I appreciate N.D. Wilson’s perspective.  “I’m not interested in stories that sear terrifying images or monsters or villains into young minds—enough of those exist in the real world, and plenty of others will grow in children’s imaginations without any help. I am interested in telling stories that help prepare living characters for tearing those monsters down.”

GMC – A Stupidly Simple System for Great Character Creation (Rachel Bach/Aaron) – Tips for creating a character based on three things: their goal, underlying motivation, and the conflict that prevents them from getting their goal.

Spiritual Drafting and the Danger of Christian Complacency (Tim Challies) – A thought-provoking analogy.

Our Needs Point Us to God (Christine Hoover) – “I have lost the childlike instinct to simply ask my Father for my needs to be met by him. When my sons have a need, they immediately come to me. When I have a need, I veer toward shame, frustration, and guilt. My boys aren’t above otter-like begging, but I have somehow grown accustomed to muting my needs through attempted self-sufficiency…”


Simmer Starters – March 18, 2016

March 18, 2016

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5 Awkward Questions to Ask Your Protagonists (Janeen Ippolito) – A great set of questions to get to know your characters better.  (My characters answered the questions in the comment section too. 😀 )

Who’s Your Daddy? (Redeemed Reader) – Fascinating thoughts here on the absence (or antagonism) of fathers in literature and what it might mean.  “But there’s a deeper reason for the absent/adversarial-dad theme, I think: the central conflict of humanity is that we’ve lost our Father.  We’ve made him our Adversary, or we imagine him as ineffectual, or we can’t find him at all.  However unspiritual a man claims to be, deep down, he knows that something is wrong.  Of course it is; he’s missing Dad.”

Writing Your Own Story Doesn’t Involve Your Editor (A.C. Williams) – I relate to this so much! “That’s how Satan gets to me. He tells me that my problems are unique, that nobody understands the way I feel, and that I should just grin and bear it all in silence. But every time I tell that voice to shut up and share what’s on my heart, I find dozens of people who feel exactly the same way I do.”

It’s Not a Talent Show (Jon Bloom) – This is great. So important for creative types especially!  “There are times I fantasize about moving to a quiet cabin in northern Minnesota to escape the pressures that expose my lesser talents and just read books. You know what that is? It’s a sinful, talent-burying fantasy. I think it’s a common-to-man temptation for less talented servants.”

Sex, Death, and Christian Fiction (Simon Morden) – Fascinating article. So many great thoughts here, especially if you stick through the opening ramble.

Why I’m Not a Woman (The Other Brothers) – “So in support of denying the natural (maybe even genetic) desire to abuse alcohol, we set up huge programs to assist people in fighting what comes naturally to become something better. To be the best version of themselves.  Yet, for the man who naturally (maybe even genetically) desires to have sex with another man, we tell him to just embrace that simple desire and pursue it wholeheartedly without abandon.”



Simmer Starters – March 4, 2016

March 4, 2016

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7 Ways to Be More Creative (Jessica Knap) – This is a great roundup of ways to kickstart creativity!

Complaining is Terrible For You, According to Science (Jessica Stillman) – How negativity or positivity literally rewire our brains.  “Synapses that fire together wire together.”

Porn: The Quiet Anesthesia (Ethan Renoe) – Speaking of rewiring brains, here is a sobering and thought-provoking post about addiction and how it numbs us to reality.  “When I look at the person of Jesus, I see the polar opposite of numbness. I see someone who was entirely alive to His emotions, the full spectrum.”

The Four Things You Need to Sell a Book (Rachel Bach/Aaron) – All the important stuff to grab readers who are shopping for new reads.  “Cover, title, blurb, first pages, in that order.”

Naked Love (Mom Life Now) – Beautiful post about motherhood, on how Christ said, “I was naked, and you clothed me,” and mothers do this for their little children every day. As a weary mom of four under five, I choked up a little reading this. 🙂


The Diversity of Imagination

February 24, 2016


I love to hear about how radically diverse our souls and minds are, as human beings.  It’s part of why I love Myers-Briggs so much.  It’s delightful and mind-blowing to me how very differently people can approach similar things!  It’s what makes the world exciting and fun, that none of us quite think the same way.  It’s why our souls are so endlessly fascinating and we can keep getting to know more about one another forever.

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking specifically about writers and how we approach the task of getting to know our stories.

5 Different Imaginations

All my musings were sparked when I spoke with a writing friend, Janeen Ippolito, about our different approaches to writing and how our imagination handles our stories.


Janeen Ippolito – A Puzzle Approach

Janeen explained her approach like this:

I’m a major story collager. … I’m constantly moving pieces of story around into different realms. Stories, plots, characters, settings, creatures, all of those things. I’ve had plenty of things not fit and then are much happier other places. It’s making a system where everything fits and making the characters truly happy and fulfilled psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. I handle it a lot like therapy. Tough love character and plot therapy.

Janeen’s approach sounds to me like her imagination dumps out a ton of puzzles into a heap, and she’s organizing and sorting and fitting everything where it ought to go. Sometimes a puzzle piece ends up in the wrong box and has to be moved.  She’s on a mission to make sure everything fits in where it should.  She often closely examines a character and digs deep down to understand what they need, and what their true place is.


Bethany A. Jennings – A Painting Approach

Janeen’s approach was so foreign to me!  Move an element from one story to another??  I almost never do that.  If I invent an element for one story, even if I delete it entirely, in my mind it still “belongs” there.  The way I think of my writing projects is entirely different.

I explained my approach like this:

I look so much at the integrity of the whole idea, as a whole. … For me it’s like taking a vision and fleshing it out until it is complete and whole and vivid, going down to the nooks and crannies to understand it and make the finished product as epic as the glimpses I got in my head.

For me, getting to know my stories is more like painting a picture. I have a vision in mind from the beginning.  I sketch it out.  I add more detail.  I add color.  If something I visualized doesn’t look right on the canvas, I paint over it with something else.  To me it makes no sense to then take the painted-over element and draw it on another canvas elsewhere!…it’s still there down under the top layer, quietly tucked beneath the finished masterpiece.  It might never see the light of day, but maybe it still provides a little bit of color or form to the finished product.  Each book is a painting of its own, some of them roughly sketched and some fleshed out to bright color.


RJ Conte – An Investigation Approach

Very different from either of us is my friend RJ Conte (who is an ESFJ).  Drawing her inspiration mainly from real life experiences and the people around her, she described her story-forming process as:

For me, it’s a character or a scenario that boggles my mind and makes me think, and then it’s figuring out the deepest recesses of that character’s heart as he or she goes through the situations life has thrown their way. Like saying, “Why WOULD someone do that or respond that way?” or “How would someone like that change?”

As many of her stories are issue-driven contemporary works, RJ considers her approach to be more like an interrogation or deeply getting to know a person and understand how they tick.  All other story elements are built around the characters and their relationships that are unique to each story, many of them drawn from her own experiences.


K.M. Carroll – A Snowball Approach

K.M. Carroll, another speculative fiction writer, has yet another completely unique approach to finding and understanding a story.  She said:

There’s this strange game called Katamari, where you roll a ball around and stuff sticks to it. First you’re collecting lint and paper clips and crayons, then you’re catching furniture and trees and buildings and clouds and rainbows. The idea (I think) is to collect enough mass to build a star. For me, building a story is like that. I start with a concept. Then I roll in characters. Then I build on their arcs and goals. Then I collect more cool worldbuilding ideas, and the ball gets bigger and bigger. But I can’t start writing until I find the Oomph, the magic, the particular sparkle that makes me excited to write it. That’s when it becomes a star.


H.L. Burke – A Casual Stroll Approach

H.L. Burke, an ENFP, has a more laid back approach than any of these:

It’s like taking a walk for me. I know where I’m going and generally how to get there, so I just start walking through the world, heading towards my story’s ideal conclusion, sometimes with highlights I want to see along the way, sort of how I might go into town for the bank but know very well I want to stop at the coffee shop and maybe browse the bookstore next to the bank and if I have time take my kids to the playground. This usually happens pretty instinctively and impulsively. I don’t pre-think my books much. They sort of spring fully formed from my head, wearing plate armor and all that. I may get distracted a few times along the path. I may meet someone along the way and end up talking to them for longer than I mean to or ask them to join me in my errands when I didn’t plan to, but I almost always end up at the destination I’d originally planned, maybe just with a few unplanned detours. My first drafts are also very similar to my final drafts. I rarely make big changes once things are on paper. I’ll make little changes all over the place, but big changes, not usually.

Each Writer Unique

My guess is that each one of us has a different way of imagining our stories, a different emotional approach to seeing and interacting with the ideas, and a different way of shaping them into the finished product.  It might even vary from book to book, too!  Perhaps writing The Kraesinia Trilogy feels like endlessly adding layers to a painting because I’ve been revising for years…I’ll be interested to see how writing a brand new draft of a book will feel to me.

I’d love to hear how your imagination works, fellow writers.  Is it like any of the approaches above?  Or is it entirely different?  Let us know in the comments!


Simmer Starters – February 13, 2016

February 13, 2016


Business Musings: Serious Writer Voice (Kristine Kathryn Rusch) – This is a great, encouraging article about how every writer’s books should be different and we don’t all have to follow the same rules.

How Atheist Authors Steal From God (Mike Duran) – “You can’t have bad guys without real evil. You can’t have compelling drama without real stakes. Even if a story is simply about survival, the underlying assumption is that life is better than death, that struggling against odds is more noble than simply surrendering to the elements. Which is the reason why moral absolutism is more viable for authors than, say, a relativistic worldview.”

The Writer’s Life According to Minions (Nate Philbrick) – Just some funnies. 😀

Christian Speculative Fiction and the Biblical Boundary Problem (Tony Breeden) – Interesting thoughts here. “The trouble is that there are two very different schools of thought where writing Christian speculative fiction is concerned. One school believes that creativity/craft/speculation must be our primary concern as Christian authors. Call it Scriptura sub speculativa (‘Scripture under speculation’) or Prima speculativa. … I believe that the Bible’s teaching/doctrines/theology should take precedent over speculation. Call it Speculativa sub Scriptura or Prima Scriptura.”

5 Things You Can Give to God Every Day (Tim Challies) – A good summary of the ways we can prioritize serving God each day.

Valentine’s Is About Jesus (Andrew Shanks) – The symbolism in this article makes my INFJ heart very happy. 😀 “The reality is that we live in a world of symbol and sacrament, wherein everything points to something else. Jesus himself teaches us to view the world in this way. Even in parching his dry throat with cool water, he sees in the act a picture of the living water which God provides to those who ask.”

What Are You Afraid Of? (Jon Jergenson) – I don’t usually link to videos, mostly because I tend to pass over videos myself, but this was a great piece of spoken word poetry I enjoyed this week.  “I used to be afraid of opinions – afraid that though words would not break my bones, they certainly would shatter my dreams. As if I started doing this for the approval of many rather than the glory of One.”