Friday, May 4, 2018

Finding the Story Within the Story

Welcome guest blogger, Donna Wichelman


As a fiction novelist, you may have experienced a very disconcerting sensation. You’ve got a an amazing story—maybe even a killer idea. You’ve written the synopsis to what looks like a best seller, and you’re ready to take off on the journey.

Each day, you’re typing away, making great strides, seeing the plot fleshed out, your protagonist getting into all the right kinds of trouble. You’ve managed to advance the story perhaps a third of the way into the novel.

Then bam! Writer’s block sets in big time or your writers’ critique group doesn’t get your vibe, and the universal sentiment is the story just isn’t working for them. You feel like you’ve just been booted off the bus and your coat thrown out the window for good measure.

My new release, Undaunted Valor, was that book for me. It went through three iterations before it found the right plot for the characters to bring depth and meaning to the story. Then I listened to a couple of my beta readers about how to fix some of the loopholes I’d left open along the way.

The phenomenon of heading in the wrong direction isn’t new for God’s chosen emissaries. Paul experienced a roadblock on his second missionary journey through present day Turkey. He’d passed through the region, strengthening the churches in their faith, their numbers increasing. Then bam! The Holy Spirit forbade them to enter Asia. Moreover, when they tried to go into Bithynia, the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them.

The Scriptures don’t tell us how the Spirit prevented Paul from going the direction he had planned. We just know God closed the door. Yet He opened the door into new territory—Greece and Macedonia—where the people were ripe and ready to hear the message.

I know the discouragement, the utter feeling of failure. For a little while, I want to find a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific where no one can find me and I can wallow in the deep waters of despair.

Yet if we look back at Paul’s journey, we notice he didn’t crawl under the nearest rock like Jonah under a tree pouting about rival in Ninevah. He moved on to Troas and set sail for Greece.

I think we writers can learn a lesson from Paul’s missionary journey. When we hit that roadblock in our work, perhaps it’s time to listen to where God’s leading us rather than trying to ram the locked door with a log or sitting down on the road and throwing a temper tantrum. God may be opening the door to new territory that hasn’t been explored yet, and He’s ready and waiting to show you the way.




Blurb for Undaunted Valor, Book 2, The Waldensian Series

For nature lovers, ski aficionados, travel enthusiasts and history scholars, the French Alps offer some of the most spectacular scenery and outdoor recreation in all Europe with its majestic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, unspoiled forests and quaint mountain villages. People come to get away from the daily grind and rejuvenate their spirits.

But when Alessandro Marianni’s grandmother Luciana is kidnapped during a church conference in Chamonix, the same landscape becomes an ominous height to scale, and Jamie Holbrooke and her fiancĂ© Alessandro have difficulty distinguishing between friend and foe on the race to find her. They will have to weather a rainstorm on a mountain trail, negotiate a dangerous waterfall, outmaneuver a car chase, and defy an assassin’s gun in their search.

Will they find their beloved Luciana before it’s too late? Who will die on the way to the finish line? Who can they trust? And where will Jamie find the courage to confront her adversaries?
In this sequel to Light Out of Darkness, the answers will lie in unanticipated places and with unexpected allies and require Jamie to discover what it means to trust God with undaunted valor.

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Donna Wichelman was a communications professional before writing full-time. She has authored short stories, essays and articles in various inspirational publications and lives her dream writing novels and screenplays. She and her husband work with teens at their local church in Fort Collins, Colorado. They travel, bike and kayak whenever their schedules allows. 

27 comments:

  1. Donna, welcome to Seekerville! I brought fresh, hot coffee and a slew of cold sweet tea... and fixin's for both!

    The idea of keep on keepin' on is a wonderful one. The good Lord wants us to square our shoulders and move forward.

    Or maybe that's what I think he wants because I think that's the right way to do things, LOL!

    In any case, I love St. Paul and his excursions.

    And I don't think I have ever heard the word "iterations" before.

    Thank you for educating me!

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    1. Ruth, I'm sitting down with my fresh brew right now and reading your post! :) I totally agree with you. When God closes a door, he always opens another one that He expects us to walk through. It may not look like what we thought it should, but we have to remember His plans are still higher than ours.

      God's blessing for your future writing!

      Donna

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  2. Good morning, Donna! Welcome to Seekerville! I see Ruthy brought coffee and cold tea...I come with a tray of chai tea. It's been cold and wet here in Colorado. No cold tea for me yet!

    I'm all about hitting that wall. Time and again. But, the distinguishing trait of a born writer is that you don't give up. I've had my drought times, but never wanted to tuck writing away and pick up - say - rock climbing. Oh heavens, no!

    The Lord is faithful. He makes me lie down in green pastures and wait on His ideas. He restores my soul with stories far better than any I could think up.

    Thanks for the grand words of inspiration, Donna!!

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    1. Audra, I remember the roadblock you hit not all that long ago. The thing I remember about how you handled it was that you didn't wallow in self-pity, but you waited on God to show you the way. I admired how you took a step back and allowed God to lead the way instead of rushing forward headlong into the thorn bushes. And you're writing again with inspiration. It's good to see you there again!

      Many blessings! :)
      Donna

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  3. Donna, thanks. I hit a couple of roadblocks recently that left me reeling, projects I had high hopes for, that are not to be (at least not in the form I envisioned). I had to dive back into my "encouragement" file more than once. Christian writers have nothing without Christ, especially now.
    I made chocolate brownies so why don't we put those out with Ruthy's beverages.
    Finished temp job early and nothing happening in secular work, so have a couple of hours free to write. The house and yard are calling, but I Must Not Waste the writing opportunity.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Kathy, hope you got a lot done in that gift of hours! :)

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    2. Kaybee, Amen and Amen! What would we do without Christ??? He teaches me that over and over. I pray He is leading you in the way, even now.

      Blessings,
      Donna

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  4. Donna, we lived in Colorado Springs and Fountain for four years. Spent vacation time in Cripple Creek and Victor. Colorado is an amazing place.

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  5. A big lesson I have learned in writing is, the steps are directed my the Lord.

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  6. Good morning, Donna! Your words are wise...to stop and confirm where God wants the story to go when we've hit a wall, even if we believe our original idea was a good one He inspired. He may very well have something bigger and better in the works for it. He doesn't often give me full blown story ideas and tell me to run with it. I often have to gather the details fresh daily like manna in the desert! :)

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    1. Glynna Kaye,

      Thank you! The Lord is good all the time, and all the time God is good. It took three years for the sequel to come out. A lot of roadblocks in the way--my husband's layoff for one, other personal stuff. All during that time, I kept wanting to bang the door down, but God kept saying, "No, not that way." Honestly, my head starting hurting. I wonder sometimes if God doesn't shake His head at His children. There's a reason the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

      Glynna, thanks for reading and for your encouragment!

      Blessings,
      Donna

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  7. Good Morning, Donna! Thank you for this great post!

    Audra, thank you for the chai tea! It's delish!

    HAPPY FRIDAY!

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    1. You're welcome! I hope the words were encouraging!

      Blessings,
      Donna

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  8. Hi, Donna, I've hit those 'lost the plot' patches in my work, and it can be so disconcerting. Like waking up in a strange place! Often, it's because I was on an original hiding to nowhere, and the story is better for stopping and having a re-think!

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    1. Erica, so true. Thanks for reading. Blessings on all your writing and re-writing! Donna

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  9. I'm looking forward to reading this series soon, Donna! thanks for sharing these insights today!

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    1. Carrie,

      You're welcome! Thanks for reading and your encouragement!
      Blessings,
      Donna

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  10. Hi Donna. Writers Block is something we all encounter from time to time (some of us more often than others!). Thanks for the reminders about where we should look for direction.

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    1. Winnie,

      You're welcome! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Seekerville. Honestly, the words were God's inspiration even to write the post. God's blessings on all your writing projects!
      Donna

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  11. Beautifully said. Thanks for those much-needed thoughts.

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    1. Amy,

      Thank you! I hope they were encouraging to you!

      Blessings,
      Donna

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  12. Hi Donna:

    It's easy to build fanciful castles in the sky. There is no foundation to cause problems. There are no material limitations. Any objection to the grand design can be easily augmented with a new wing. The sky is truly the limit when building in the sky.

    However, once a real castle is started on terra firma, things get sticky. Real concret tends to set quickly. Changes are hard if not impossible to make.

    For example, when writing a book, each page written and each choice made, causes some "sky" options close. Choice "A" makes many other choices no longer available. By the time the castle is half built, and the book half written, so many options have closed that that wonderful castle in the sky seems just that: a dream of what could have been.

    The lesson here: build your castles on earth. Demand competent detailed drawings and blueprints. Insist on plans that can stand building inspections and sound foundations that can carry you all the way to your dreams.

    In short: be a plotter. :P

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    1. Vince,

      I appreciate your thoughts. I used to be a panser, but doing a much more detailed synopsis ahead of time this time around made a big difference. And listening to my beta readers who gave me an honest evaluation! We should never undervalue those of our friends who love us enough to be honest with us. Pride always goes before a fall. God's blessings to you as you plot, and plan, and listen to God's leading!

      Donna

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  13. Donna, I'm a day late. Our son graduated yesterday and we were out all day. Thanks for being with us!

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    1. Mary,

      I'm two days late in replying! We had to move out of our house for a couple of days while our floors were being refinished, and finding the way to reply on my iPhone's screen became a hassle. So thankful to be back at my computer. Many blessings to you, and thanks for reading!

      Donna

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  14. It was truly my pleasure. Thank you, Audra, for hosting me. I hope my story encouraged anyone who's struggling to find the words at the moment!

    Donna

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