The Art of Dreaming with God (Part 1)

by Kariss Lynch

As writers, we were created to create. When Genesis says that man was created in the image of God, I believe that included being made with characteristics that resemble Him. He’s the master storyteller, and I believe He gave me a tiny piece of that trait. I love to create and work with color. I believe that is His creativity peaking through me.

I would even take it one step further. Not only do I think we were created to create, but I believe we are called to create, meaning I believe our writing, our storytelling is an act of obedience, a time of growing our relationship with the Lord.

Part of that process for me looks like dreaming. We belong to a God who spoke the earth into being. He created the platypus and the manatee, both which fascinate me because of how they are designed. Don’t laugh. I know those are weird examples. Okay, maybe laugh a little, but don’t think for a second He isn’t creative or a dreamer. Part of writing with Him looks like dreaming with Him.

One of my favorite quotes from C. S. Lewis regarding his process of writing The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe says, “But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it…once He was there He pulled the whole story together.”

I believe our writing journeys are the same. Until Aslan comes bounding into this journey, we just have pieces. When He arrives, the whole journey, the whole story comes together. But I don’t want to just wait. I want to invite Him into it. So last month, I blocked off time to dream. I asked a couple different questions to help me brainstorm, but the very first one I asked was:

What do I love about a good story? What are my favorite aspects of my Heart of a Warrior series?

I made a list, knowing this list would tell me a lot about how God wired me, helped me dream, helped me strategize, and helped me resonate with the heart of the reader. But I didn’t stop there. I made a list of what I love most about stories but I also made myself identify why. That “why” sets the tone for my stories.

What I love most about stories:

  • A good, imperfect romance
  • A little bit of action, danger, and adventure
  • A team, family unit, or group
  • Fun character personalities and growth
  • A setting that sings
  • Creativity
  • Heroism that comes from fighting for something bigger than the individual
  • Hope, loyalty, and courage

Dreaming this way with the Lord is the sweetest part of this journey for me. Aslan has dashed onto the page, and I’m excited to walk next to Him in this process, participating in the adventures He has in store, knowing He doesn’t lead us to safe places but He does lead us to good places (thanks for the lesson, Mr. Beaver).

What would your list include? What do you love most about stories and want to include in your own?

Click to Tweet: The Art of Dreaming With God by Kariss Lynch via @NovelAcademy #writing #faith

Click to Tweet: “I made a list of what I love most about stories but I also made myself identify why.” The Art of Dreaming With God by Kariss Lynch via @NovelAcademy #writing #faith


Kariss Lynch writes contemporary romance about characters with big dreams, adventurous hearts, and enduring hope. She is the author of the Heart of a Warrior series and loves to encourage her readers to have courage. In her free time, she hangs out with her family and friends, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.


No More Honeymoon

So. How is NaNoWriMo going?

Day 7. If you’ve written every day, then you’re probably past the honeymoon stage. Past those first three chapters where you’ve met your characters, hung out, decided you wanted to go on a journey together.

Which means now you’re in the slew. That flat, mucky, weedy expanse that can slow you down, trap you. You might even find yourself sinking.

And here’s what you’re hearing.

“You’re lost—where are you going with this story?”

“You could be doing other things…like reading a great book. Or watching football.”

“Who said you were a writer…have you read this stuff?”

“You’ll never finish this book anyway, so why are you investing all this time?”

STOP!! DON’T LISTEN. (and if you’re wondering where I got those statements, I just had to listen to my own voices!)

Here’s the truthwhenever we set out to do something brilliant, impactful and potentially life-changing, (even if it is just our own lives), THERE WILL BE OPPOSITION.

Doubts. Fears. Spiritual warfare.

Because the forces of darkness do not want LIGHT in this world. And that’s what your story is—Light. Truth. Redemption. Hope. (Every great story has these elements…the hero being redeemed and overcoming by the power of truth and hope!)

That’s what YOUR story is, too.

You are doing something powerful. Something that matters. Expect opposition, my friend.

So…what do you do?

First—keep your perspective.Your story matters, no matter what reach it has.

Then—Make mini-goals. Just do today’s work. (or, as we say in the Warren house…just do the next thing…you’ll eventually get there!) Hey, that is what NaNoWriMo is all about…

Finally—Join us this week for a Novel.Academy Story Spark Peptalk.

Are you struggling with your NanoWrimo story? Need a jumpstart? Sometimes we just need a fresh idea on how to start a chapter, add a twist, or deepen our characters. This week in our weekly Peptalk, we’re offering 7 Sparks to ignite your NanoWrimo.

Join us Thursday, November 10, 7pm CST.


If you want to attend, (and we do want you to!) we need to send you an invitation…so, please sign up HERE. Even if you can’t make it, we’ll send you a copy of the replay.

Your story matters. Go, write something brilliant!

Susie May



3 Brainstorming Sparks To Get You NaNoWriMo Ready

Photo by Karen Andrews
Photo by Karen Andrews

NaNoWriMo, the write-a-novel-in-a-month challenge, is not for the feint of heart.

But you aren’t chicken. Chances are you’ve faced down an editor or agent pitch with only two cappuccinos. Quite possibly you wake up before the sun rises or stay up after it sets to put words on the page, while raising a family, or working a full-time job.

Your life is the stuff of the courageous.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like you scale mountains, but you’re in a career where you know you will receive numerous rejections, still you face them fearlessly and swallow back disappointments with grace. (Outside of maybe that tub of Ben & Jerry’s you didn’t tell anyone about.)

November is your month to go big or go home. How do you get the first sparks for your NaNoWriMo? From your own courageous journey infused into your character.

3 Brainstorming Sparks To Get You NaNoWriMo Ready:

*First, start a spark journal. This is your NaNoWriMo thought bank. It won’t just be pieces of your characters’ journey and story structure. It will be emotions, words, stressful moments, music, muse, and so much more. Mark these segments with sticky dividers so they are easy to find.


 Spark One: Determine the place your hero/heroine is in at the start of the story. Identify their favorite thoughts, music, places to think, and where they go to find peace. If you love collage, cut out pictures that represent that either online, or from magazines.

This is what I call the frame of mind spark. Every day you sit down to write, review the pictures and sounds of where they are at in life before you start.


Spark Two: Determine your hero/heroine’s down and out response in the story. Create a segment that shows the thoughts, tension, fight music, junk food cravings, music binge that they take when discouraged.

Use your own life experiences to put this into emotional words. The hardest point of your month in October should be journaled about here. My Book Therapy taught me to keep an emotional journal. This is a very specified emotion you might find in it.

If your hero/heroine is to spend a good amount of time facing hardships that bring them to change, that is an emotion you should connect with on multiple levels of severity.


Spark Three: Geek out about your passion. If you love your hero/heroine, your plot, or your setting, here is the place to fill the pages with why you love your favorite one of these. Cut out pictures, write your emotions, pour it all on the page. Add musical inspiration, pictures, or prose.

Why? There will be a point this month where you will need to remember why you love this story. That is the time or times when this spark will be helpful.

Are you planning on doing NaNoWriMo? What other sparks will you add to your spark journal?

Brainstorming the Villain Persona

Photo by ba1969
Photo by ba1969

Villains bring the whole creepy factor to your novel. Sometimes villains are devious and brilliant, other times they are crass and brutish. But one thing they all have in common is that they have a public persona.

What exactly do I mean by public persona?

A villain’s public persona is the image they project to the community. We often hear of killers who fooled everyone around them. They were model citizens, community leaders and the perfect family man. Maybe they skulk through dark alleys, avoid any contact with someone who might recognize them, or generally dislike interacting with people.

Brainstorming the villain persona is a key element to developing their point of view scenes and the way that they threaten your hero/heroine.

Questions To Ask When Brainstorming the Persona of a Villain:

*Do they prefer public attention or invisibility?

This component is essential to determine because it will impact the actions and proximity opportunities for the villain. Research profiles of these types of villains so you can best fit their persona to their psychological makeup.

*How do they get attention or stay invisible?

The public attention seeking villain will be a leader in the community, or run for public office. If there is a desire to stay invisible, there are actions taken to keep away any attention. This villain also will also find any public attention as an obstacle.

*What community functions or activities are they involved in or conversely, which ones do they avoid?

Identifying if they are a deacon at their church, running for mayor, or simply flip burgers on the night shift is key to determining what opportunities will arise for the villain to access, threaten, or plot against the hero/heroine.

*What gives my villain a thrill?

The public persona of the villain often informs what gives the villain the greatest rush. Once you identify their preferences you are able to pull in their moments of euphoric rush

What is the most interesting element of the public persona of a known villain that you’ve heard of?