FamilyLife Blog

Write Your Story

by | Jun 1, 2020 | Uncategorized

This is where your story really starts to come together. As you outline your thoughts and put them into words, it’s exciting to see the bigger picture of how God has been at work in your relationship. Taking the work you have already done (reflecting on your story, identifying themes and turning points), write a first draft of the story. Do not worry about making it perfect the first time through — get your key ideas on paper and then leave it for a day or two.

Writing Tips

  • Write your story together as one story. Later on in the process, when we discuss actually communicating the story, you can decide who will tell which part.
  • Aim for 3-5 minutes in length (so about 750 – 1000 words). Resist the urge to share a lot of the history of your relationship.
  • The very first sentence should focus right in on a crisis moment or a challenging issue you’ve faced together as a couple. Every detail you share after that needs to unpack how that issue unfolded. Resist rabbit trails that don’t relate directly to your chosen theme.
  • Be mindful of voice. Be careful of “Christian” phrases or “churchy” words that can alienate those who do not yet follow Jesus.
  • Avoid using names of other people (innocent or guilty) in your story or names of particular denominations/organizations. Remember you are telling your God-story, not preaching a sermon or evaluating others.
  • After your first draft, leave it for 24 hours. Come back to it with fresh eyes and think about how to focus, clarify, and shorten it if necessary. Leave it again for 24 hours. Come back and do another edit.
  • Have two others read it — Someone who knows you well and someone who does not really know you. Encourage them to ask clarifying questions and make suggestions verbally or in written form.

How to Structure Your Story

The Hook

In our digitally saturated world, you only have a few sentences to grab your listeners’ attention and make them want to hear more. Is there a funny story you could start with? Or dive right into a story about a crisis moment or issue you faced in your relationship. However you start, remember that it needs to lead directly into your central theme. Keep it to a minute or less in length.

The Body

There are two options that work well here. Write your story in chronological order. Or, if your hook was about a crisis or turning point in your marriage, use a circular plot (looping back to the events leading up to and following that critical moment). To decide what to include, look again at your notes where you circled what details fit into your chosen theme. Remember only to include essential details so it doesn’t get too long.

The Closing

End with a simple summary of your story that connects back to your theme. Think of a closing that inspires your listener or reader to reflect on God’s work in their life and marriage.

Up Next – Share Your Story

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