Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Purpose-Driven Fiction 8 Questions for Your Writing Journey by Cathy Gohlke

You want to write fiction; you want your story to matter, to have meaning. You want readers to walk away changed for the better, drawn closer to the Lord, but where to begin? How do we find The Story we’re meant to tell in the midst of the world’s many deep needs?

I’m convinced that we are wonderfully made, designed by our loving Father for a unique purpose—and that includes our writing. To help discover your unique story, consider asking these questions:

1. What makes me pound the table and weep that also breaks the heart of God? What does He continue to bring to your attention through quiet time with Him or through the news? This will help you focus on a topic.

2. Is my heartbreak more for the world or the church? This will help focus your writing for your readership.

3. What moves and inspires me to greater heights? This will help your character find their “aha moment”—establishing the needed trajectory of your protagonist’s character arc.

4. How has God uniquely prepared me to pursue this passion? What has prepared you emotionally/spiritually, physically/psychologically to write this story? Can you trace God’s preparations in your life’s journey?

5. How has God uniquely prepared me to write this specific story? What have you learned, experienced, or done that relates to the characters’ journeys? What are your strengths and your spiritual journey—especially as they might be found in your protagonist or mentor character? What are your insecurities, demons, things you’ve overcome or continue to struggle with that might be found either in your protagonist or your villain?

Do you have friends, family, or personal connections to help with your research?

6. How do I know what genre to write? What kind of stories best speak life lessons to you? What do you love to read? What did you love to read as a child, as a young person, as a young adult, as an adult? We usually write best what we love to read.

7. Which comes first—the need God placed on my heart or the story? Which came first to your mind?

If you thought first of the need, ask in what time period, culture, among what type of characters this need would best be played out. Often our natural inclinations and familiarity with people in our lives can answer this.

If you thought first of the story, develop the characters you “see” in your head and ask how they would confront or deal with this need in the context of the plot you have in mind.

8. What helps my characters grow? Trouble. Give them trouble. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble”—and He wasn’t kidding. Ask what challenges will help your characters grow, change their course of action, repent and surrender in order to allow redemption to take place. That’s the goal of all our stories—the ones we write and the one we live. 

8 Questions to Ask to Discover Your Story via @GohlkeCathy #SeriouslyWrite


Four-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award–winning author Cathy Gohlke writes
novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she and her husband, Dan, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

Visit her website at and find her on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.


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