How the Divergent Movie Affected My Writing

I write dystopian. So, of course I went and saw the new movie, Divergent.

Yes, I read the book first. Don’t panic.

Guilty confession: I didn’t have high expectations for the movie. In fact, I expected it to be average at best. I’m not an enormous Divergent fan, mostly because I felt like the plot/characters/draw-to-keep-reading declined the more I read. But often times, it’s the one-eyebrow-up movies that leave you with your jaw scraping your tennies.

Photo borrowed from eonline.

I adored the movie.

I saw it twice, in theaters, in three days…and that’s not something I do unless the movie left an astounding impact. The greatest impression targeted my writing. At first, it wasn’t pretty.

“I’m an awful writer,” I groaned to my husband on the 45-minute drive home from the theater. Being the wonderful husband he his, he promptly informed me I’m a fantastic writer and reminded me of where God’s brought me.

I just needed to choose to believe him.

The Divergent movie left me with a…feeling. A feeling of something great, worthwhile, powerful, and all those other soul-moving emotions.

There was a time when, if I read my own book — A Time to Die — I left feeling the same way. But now I’ve read it too many times. In my mind, it feels flat, even though it’s not. It feels weak because it hasn’t gone up against the world yet. I know what I want it to be, but I don’t know that I have the power to take it there.

I was so inspired and depressed that night (great combination, right?) I couldn’t sleep. I just lay in bed for hours, wondering how I could change the world. Wondering what my writing needed. Wondering if I could ever write something that affected other people the way these dystopian movies affected me.

Photo borrowed from eonline.

The next day, I vaulted out of bed and wrote. I tweaked areas of my book that bugged me. I applied all the little edits I recently received from my editor. And then I jumped into book two.

Utter inspiration.

That’s what I found by delving into my own work (which, I will never see as just “my own” work.) God used my own story to re-inspire me.

Boy, He sure knows how to woo a discouraged author’s heart. 😉

Later on in the day, I discovered Psalm 118:16-17.

The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord.


I loved the Divergent movie, and it reminded me of how precious story is to the reading world. Why did I love the movie? Because of a powerful story. A world soaked in imagination. A hero. A push to live in an active and purposeful way(The phenomenal actors may have played a part, too.)

What is better than a strong story with a hero that pulls at every emotion ever created in your tiny human form? How about a strong story and a hero with God in the very midst? I know, I know — a Christianese answer, right? But it’s true. The level of “fame and greatness” God sees might be different than that of the world’s. But God does valiantly. The Lord is exalted.

And that’s the goal, isn’t it?

When I saw Divergent a second time, I left encouraged. I poured every ounce of passion into my own writing. Because I want to tell of the works of the Lord.

I’m not sure what message I intended to leave you with through this blog post. I guess it would be that, when you experience something incredible…let it be an encouragement. Pour that experience into your passions. Pour it into your lives.

And remember, if God’s called you to something — like writing a dystopian book in the middle of a giant dystopian trend — it wasn’t without purpose. Sometimes it takes jumping back into our own work and our old vision to remember why we live in such bliss under our great God.


What movies tend to affect your writing?


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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Yes!!! I can so relate! Whether it is a movie or a book, I’ll get done with it and I’ll just want to give up, but then a day or so later I’ll be hit with a greater sense of passion or purpose or inspiration or something. Ha! It’s been a long time since I’ve actually watched a “real” movie, (not that the kids’ movies are real & sometimes they can be just as powerful if not more so) But I seem to be more impacted my book I’ve read. That said, I just got done watching How To Train A Dragon. AWESOME! So moving, I’ve got see it again! And yes, I want to create stuff that moves people just the way I am moved. We shall see. 🙂

    Also any kind of movie can affect my writing, heck, I think Cars helped me to see the “hero journeys” better–after watching it a million times. 🙂

    • Corrections: that should read “not that kids’ movies aren’t…” & “more impacted by books I’ve read”

      my thoughts have been as slippery as fish and it shows! 🙂

    • I didn’t even catch the typos. LOL.

      And I LOVE How to Train Your Dragon! It’s absolutely delightful and the closest thing to perfect. The second one comes out in June!

  2. The Matrix had a profound impact on me, though I don’t think I even realized how much until recently. It was the right movie at the right time during an important formative period of my life, and I’ve seen the influence carry over into my writing.

    As always, great blog.

  3. That’s awesome. I love when we connect the dots to what has impacted our lives and writing.

    Thank you, Clint. 🙂

  4. Wow, Nadine, we think a lot alike in many ways. I never have writers block, but I’m a firm believer in watching a good movie to heat up the furnace and get my creativity flowing (not for copying the story concept, but I like to be inspired and to inspire others). All authors go back and forth with, “I can’t write worth beans!” to “this is brilliant stuff!” and then once we’ve been around it a lot, we start second guessing ourselves.

    In my experience, no matter how much I polish a story I’ve written, no matter how much I beat my head against a wall and think it’s done, I can always come back a few months later and improve it. At some point, we need to declare our work finished and move on to other projects, even though we know what we’ve done can be improved. I’m not talking about slopping something out of course.

    Like you, I seek God’s direction in everything I do and while I’m not quite sure why I am so passionate about writing fiction – why that would be my primary outlet for the creativity God’s given me, I love being in His will and keep being surprised how he uses my fiction work to touch real lifes and make a difference. I wish you all the best in your writing, Nadine. Thanks for the blog post. I really enjoyed Divergent also.

    Not sure if you’ve read Ira Levin’s only book not to become a movie, but I just loved “This Perfect Day”! Wish they made a movie about it! I used to own the audio book version (extremely tough to find the audio – haven’t again… yet), and it was incredible – listened to it about 15 times over the years. Well, have a great rest of the week! 🙂 Bob

    • Yes! Movies are such a wonderful jump-start back into inspiration. 🙂 I do the same exact thing.

      Wise words about declaring our work finished and moving on to other projects. It’s a great lesson to learn — one I’m still working on. 😉

      I haven’t heard of Ira Levin at all, but I’ve heard of some of his books. Thank you for the recommendation. And thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bob. 🙂

  5. What you said, “Because I want to tell of the works of the Lord,” is exactly the heartbeat of my writing. Whether it’s taking from His works in my own life or making up His works in the story, that’s what I want to do. Psalm 26:7, “That I may proclaim [KJV reads “publish”] with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works.”

  6. Nadine,

    I just wanted to say thank you for your post. Though this was started awhile ago, I happened across it and had to respond. I first saw the trailers and was so-so about seeing the movie. I ended up watching it with family and was so inspired I went home and got the kindle version of the first book. After finishing the book I saw the movie again a few days later. I have never been so inspired in my life and this is coming from someone who knows the hope of Jesus Christ. While I cant say the flame of inspiration was fuelled from the subsequent books (or even the first one really), I can say that my life changed after seeing Divergent. I asked myself why for many weeks and though many reasons came about, I have to agree with you in the reason for your inspiration. There was a powerful story of a hero beating the odds and standing up for what is right. Yet while this has occurred many times over, it was raw, personal and resonated with me on so many levels. Honestly I’m still trying to figure out what really inspired me. What I do know is that it caused me to write two short films (one we will be filming soon!) and caused a fire to burn inside of me to pursue Jesus at a whole new level and have my life be spent in such a way that it leaves an impact on this earth.

    Anywho, keep up the good work! Loved your book recommendations, will be checking a few out. God Bless you and your book release!

    • This is amazing! Your very comment is inspiring and I’m sorry I somehow missed it until today. I’m so glad the movie inspired you in such a powerful way. God works through the little things, doesn’t He? Turning them into big things. 🙂

      Thank you for your blessings!

  7. Pingback: Dystopian Review: Divergent Series & Movies - Nadine Brandes

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