Before You Write, Read This

What you write isn’t important.


Not compared to WHY you write.


There are thousands of thinly-sliced trees adorning the bookshelves of bookstores. Letters are arranged on them, stories are told through them, but nobody knows their titles or remembers their plots.


They have solid structure, fleshed-out characters, good plot structure, and absolutely no point.


Forgettable fiction. What a shame.


Why am I slamming fiction when I myself am a storyteller?


Because books wield power. Authors are knights, legends, prophets. Writers have the ability to build up or tear down, inspire or crush, nurture or injure.


Authors are knights, legends, prophets. Writers have the ability to build up or tear down, inspire or crush, nurture or injure.

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When authors write books solely to entertain, distract, or tease the reader, they are like superheroes performing cheap stunts for sideshows instead of quelling demons and saving cities.


This is going to sound melodramatic.


Writing is invaluable. Did you know that even in the Dark Ages—which was a time when artists and painters were regarded as nothing but manual laborers—scribes and scholars were VIPs? Even while the arts were deprecated, writing was valued and treasured to such a point that the layman was forbidden to approach it. But once the printing press was invented, the written word became available to the masses and delivered a dying world from ignorance and malpractice.


Even during the Dark Ages, there was never a point in history when books weren’t revered, honored, respected. Until now.


Now we see authors as mere entertainers, books as an escape, stories as amusements.


We want to be authors, but we aren’t convinced that we should. We think, “What if it’s a waste of time?”


We don’t have to write that book. We just want to.


What if lives could depend on your story?


There I go, being dark and moody again. I’m sorry.


I’m just sick of formulaic fiction being spurted from a corpulent publishing industry while we starve for wholesome, nourishing, good old-fashioned truth.


We’re surrounded by a feast of fast-food paperbacks and pulp fiction, yet we are dying of malnutrition.


If you write a story that entertains, thrills, and engrosses, all you did was distract a reader from their pain for five or six hours. You served a Big Mac that tastes good for a minute and leaves the diner hungry again in an hour. Yay?


On the other hand, if you write a story that is nothing but a sermon that beats your readers over the head with some kind of moral, you’ve violated their hearts and forced an agenda. You’ve handed them a bottle of bitter vitamins and expected the diner to guzzle it like soda. Blagh!


But if you write a story that entertains while slipping in a cure, a remedy, a truth, a breakthrough, you have saved a life. You served a steak dinner with grilled asparagus and roasted red potatoes. It tasted great and had plenty of nutrition—the perfect combination.


Therefore, the why behind your story is much more important than the what.


The why behind your story is much more important than the what.

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Don’t just glue on a theme somewhere between pages 301 and 320. Write the most compelling, engrossing, captivating story that you possibly can. Craft a page-turner that keeps readers up late into the night.


But before you start writing, decide why you are writing. You have convictions. We all do. Let them spur your creativity. Decide what is more important to you than anything else in the whole world, then allow that belief to provoke your story.


And then leave your theme alone. As long as you know why you are writing before you start, you don’t have to worry about it while you write. It will infuse every word whether you realize it or not. It will come across to the reader without being obvious or offensive.


Let conviction be the foundation, and nothing more. What you write is important. It’s just not the foundation.


Your book should be the most entertaining fiction on the shelf. But when a reader puts it down after devouring the last page, something should have changed on the inside, nagging them for weeks to come. Their perspective should be altered, no matter how slight the difference.


Correct the course of a ship by a single degree and, in time, it will be headed in the opposite direction. (See James 3:4.)


Your book should be the most entertaining fiction on the shelf. But when a reader puts it down after devouring the last page, something should have changed on the inside, nagging them for weeks to come.

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And you, the author, will sleep in peace knowing that the two years you spent in tumultuous ardor for this narrative were well spent, eternally productive, utterly worth it.

Joshua Pior

I'm a twenty-something writer of several short stories and (bad) novels, an artist, board game enthusiast, and homeschool grad. God has used stories again and again to impact my life, which first inspired me to become a writer and to help other young authors write their best stories yet!

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