Yesterday, I talked about a few things in my vlog regarding plantsing and I want to expand a little bit here on what I talked about.
I mostly want to talk about study evolution while maintaining integrity of the study.
Using a Book of the Bible
Writing a study using a book of the Bible is nice for outlining because the book itself gives you the rough outline within the chapters.
For plantsing this way, it’s best to start by reading through the book and then pulling out the major theme (or themes) you want to discuss from each chapter.
Once you have your major themes, then start looking for supporting material. For example, if you’re doing a study on Ruth, it would be good to direct your reader to the book of Judges so they understand the time period in which Ruth was written. It would also be good send them over to Leviticus so they understand what a kinsman-redeemer is and how that role works.
The supporting material you find will depend entirely on the themes you pull out from the text. Once you have a solid base of chapter themes and supporting material, you can then either continue with more of an outline or you can begin to simply write and see where it goes.
If you’re looking to go the topical study route, of course you’ll need to decide on your topic. Once you’ve decided on that, then begin breaking it down into the sub-categories you want to talk about.
Treat this like a brainstorming session – no idea is a bad idea. You can weed things out later, but for the beginning, just write down all possible routes. Once you have your list of possibilities, you can either weed it right there or you can search out your supporting material first and let the availability of supporting material make your decisions. I highly recommend getting a Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible if you’re doing this. It makes life SO MUCH easier!
Now that you have your topics and supporting material, it’s time to either outline a little more or get to writing!
When I say maintaining integrity of the study, I mean staying true to Scripture first and foremost, but also staying true to your original idea and study vein. It’s fine to bounce around the Bible to help your readers better understand your topic, but resist the temptation to follow every rabbit trail.
At some point, you need to shut down each chapter and eventually, the study itself. It might even be helpful to write down a sentence or two that encapsulates the overall arc of your study. Then, when you head back to edit, you can refer to that statement when you aren’t sure if something should stay or if it should go.
Remember that the first draft is just that – the first draft. It’s entirely likely that your final manuscript will look almost nothing like what you started with depending on your level of preparation.
As you write, you may find that what you once thought would be a good support really doesn’t have a place in the direction you went.
As you edit, you may find that through your transitions, certain points no longer make sense.
As you get your beta reader feedback in, you may find that what you thought worked really didn’t work at all.
This is part of the process. The drafts are simply part of refining your idea and the point of the beta readers is to determine whether you’ve hit your mark or not. It is easy to feel discouraged in the midst of the working, but keep working! Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings come up, but don’t dwell on them.
Speak the promises of God over your work and then keep moving. The enemy wants us to feel down and to give up, so don’t give him that satisfaction. Remember that the ultimate aim of a study is to draw your readers into a closer relationship with God and a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. Anything that doesn’t fit into those two goals isn’t worth writing.
Do you have a different writing process? How has that been working for you?