By Francine Rivers
People often ask me where I get my ideas for a novel. The simple answer is questions. The Masterpiece started in this way: Can two dysfunctional people who suffered traumatic childhood experiences find wholeness together? Where was God when the abuse was going on? Though it is understandable how a victim of abuse might blame and therefore reject God, what if that mind-set never changes? Do damaged souls get a pass into heaven?
Questions center my attention. Often, newspaper articles, conversations with friends and strangers, songs on the radio, even a billboard can give me insight or information. Hence, I carry a notebook and pens in my purse. I’m prepared to take notes anytime, anywhere. I have a flashlight on my bedside table! Some of the best ideas come as I’m falling asleep. I’ve made the mistake of thinking I’d remember a nugget of gold in the morning. Nope. Now, I write down those ideas when I receive them. Even at three in the morning!
Preparation for writing
I start with Bible study. Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.” So, I ask Him to teach me and show me what He wants me to know. I am hunting for God’s perspective. No matter how many times I read the Bible, it’s new every time. Scriptures and historical details about people’s lives have different meaning and depth when I go into the Word of God looking for answers to specific questions. I may not understand why a particular Scripture stands out, but I know it is applicable in some way and write it in a spiral notebook.
Research is a big part of writing. Digging for information takes time and effort. Learning new things is fascinating. I gather a mountain of material, but only use what is necessary in bringing the characters and story to life.
God first, family second, work third. Sounds simple, but keeping priorities isn’t easy, especially when characters become “real” people and I care about what is happening or going to happen to them. When writing flows, the last thing I want to do is shut off the computer and walk away. But I do. Why? Because I’ve learned when I keep God first, family second, I always have the time I need to finish the work.
Pushing through to the end
I set a goal: four pages a day, five days a week. I start each day by tweaking the previous day’s work. This helps me step back into the story and keep it moving forward. When I finish a draft, I do a “hard edit.” I’ve tossed manuscripts and started over. Writing is frustrating at times, but none of the work is pointless if it helps find the real story God wants me to write.
Every writer has a unique process. This is the imperfect way that works for me. You’ll find one that works perfectly for you.
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers has published numerous novels—all bestsellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for many honors and in 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for inspirational fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Francine’s novels have been translated into over 30 different languages, and she enjoys bestseller status in many foreign countries. She and her husband, Rick, enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren. Francine Author Image: Photo Credit: ©Elaina Burdo The Masterpiece Cover Image Media Center Link-The Masterpiece Francine’s Website Francine’s Blog Francine’s Facebook Page Francine Rivers latest book, The Masterpiece ISBN: 978-1-4964-0790-0 released on February 6, 2018