Sunday, 25 February 2018

Tell Me a Story, by Fiona Lloyd

Those of you who know me well may well be surprised to hear that we decided to holiday somewhere other than Whitby this half-term. Armed with a smattering of dusty phrases from my O-level German and a stack of guidebooks loaned by more well-travelled friends, we set off for a long weekend in Berlin.

            The hotel we stayed in was not the poshest I’ve ever been in, but it did have the advantage of being fairly central (just off Aleksanderplatz), and therefore only two minutes’ walk from one of the main tour bus stops. Given that the temperature was only just above freezing, this was an excellent way for us to get a historical overview of the city (without succumbing to frostbite in the process).

I’m old enough to remember the fall of the Berlin wall, and how the political upheaval in Eastern Europe dominated the news headlines for several weeks. But it’s hard to gauge the impact of this – or the pressures of living in a divided city – from looking at a television screen. Riding and walking around the streets of Berlin brought history to life in a new way. In particular, visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial and reading the accounts of families who were separated by the wall, or whose homes were boarded up to prevent people using them as an escape route, was a deeply moving experience.

            Seeing photographs of distraught faces and of people leaping from windows to escape fleshed out the story and made it seem far more real. Similarly, visiting the Jewish museum and seeing the everyday items left behind as families fled from – or were taken away by – the Nazis, emphasised the horror of that terrible period. 

            This is turning out to be a far gloomier post than I intended…but I think it serves to show the value of human stories, and how they can affect our writing. Readers care about characters they can engage with, whether fictional or otherwise. Small details and personal stories can move and challenge us in a way that sweeping description and carefully researched facts may not. If we can make our readers laugh or cry or reflect because they see something of themselves in our writing, then our words will linger in their minds long after they have turned the last page.

Fiona Lloyd is vice-chair of the Association of Christian Writers, and is married with three grown-up children. Her first novel, The Diary of a (trying to be holy) Mum, was published by Instant Apostle in January 2018. Fiona has also had short stories published in Woman Alive and Writers’ News, and has written articles for Christian Writer and Together Magazine. Fiona works part-time as a music teacher, and is a member of the worship-leading team at her local church.

Twitter: @FionaJLloyd & @FionaLloyd16


  1. Thank you Fiona, that is certainly something that I want and try to do in my writing. It means so much to hear that what I've written has touched someone. Sounds like your trip certainly sowed a few seeds in you. Blessings, Martin :)

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Martin!