All posts by Joan Y Edwards

Joan Y. Edwards is author/illustrator of folktale Flip Flap Floodle, a happy little duck who never gives up on his song even in the Mr. Fox's belly. She is author of 4RV Publishing's Joan's Elder Care Guide. It is full of practical hints and resources to promote healing and make caregiving easier. She has published 80 Gospel-Based Crossword Puzzles for Year A, B, and C. She has a Master of Education. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Charlotte Writers Club. She enjoys watching humorous mysteries, like Columbo and Monk. Time at home, beach and mountain with family and friends energizes her..

Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story

“Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story” by Joan Y. Edwards

Editors ask: What is the universal theme of your story? information book? article? poem?

What do you answer? Are you clueless? Perhaps I can help.

I went to the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop in Oceanside, Oregon from July 12-16, 2010. I was sharing a poem I wrote. The editor wanted to know what was my poem’s universal theme. What I had thought was a universal theme was really not universal. It was regional or subjective. Therefore, I did research to find out more about the subject of universal theme.

But first you have to know what your conflict is. To gain more readership, make your conflict one of the universal conflicts listed below.
What does the main character want that he cannot get or have?
Conflict adds excitement and suspense to the story.
What disturbed him beyond belief? What is the cause of distress for the main character?
What disrupts the business as usual of the main character?
What happens that the main character may try to ignore but cannot? He has to deal with this problem, internally and externally.

The internal conflict comes when the main character has to choose between two solutions to the problem: one moral, one immoral; one against his family rules; one against club’s rules; one that might hurt his friend, one that might hurt himself; one that might win the trust of his friends, one that would make him untrustworthy, one that makes him a liar, one that makes him tell the truth; mixed emotions add the tension to the story and make people want to read it to find out what the main character decided to do and what the consequences were for his actions….did it bring him closer to the goal, or bring him to his last breath.

Universal Conflicts
In a story you have one of the following universal conflicts played out:
Man against Man
Man against Self
Man against Nature
Man against Society
Man against Family
Man against the Universe
Man against Machines
Man against Institutions
Man against God
Man against Time
Man against Destiny

Never fear: Your story will probably fit into one of the universal conflicts listed above.

Goals Main Characters Struggle for, Search for, Need, Want
Acceptance, Admiration, Ambition, Approval, Attention, Authority, Awareness, Beauty. Belief, Belonging, Choices, Commitment, Community, Compassion, Cooperation, Courage, Dedication, Dream, Education, Equality, Experience, Faith, Family, Friendship, Godly love, Good, Gratitude, Heroes /Heroic Figures and Actions, Honesty, Honor, Hope, Human Relationships, Humor, Identity, Independence, Individuality, Innocence, Justice, Laughter, Law and Order, Live forever, Love, Loyalty, Marriage, Money, Morality,
Nature, Nonviolence, Passion, Peace, Perseverance, Possibilities, Power, Principles, Rebirth, Redemption, Religion, Respect, Responsibility, Romance, Sex, Spiritual enlightenment, Success, Taxes, Time, Trust, Truth, Understanding.

Forces Opposing Main Character, Keep Him from Reaching His Goal, Struggle Against, Has to Triumph Over, Doesn’t Want, Opposite of Goal, Perils of, What the Main Character Doesn’t want:
Accusation, Alienation, Ambition, Authority, Beliefs, Betrayal, Blame, Challenge, church, Coming of Age, Competition, Corruption, Country, County, Court, Crime, Death, Deception, Despair, Destruction, Disallusionment of adulthood, Disapproval, Distrust, Envy, Etiquette, Evil, Faith, Family, Fate, Fear, Forbidden, Freedom, Future, Government, Greed, Grief, Guilt, Handicap, Hatred, Hospital, Initiation, Injustice, Institutions, Jail, Jealousy, Justice, Lack of compassion, Lies, Loss, Materialism, Nation, Nature, Nature as dangerous, Oppression, Past, Power, Persecution, Poverty, Prejudice, Pride, Prison, Problems, Punishment, Rebelling, Rejection, Religion, Responsibility, Revenge, Rules, Sacrifice, Schools, Self-Doubt, Shame, Society, Taxes, Time, Town, Tragedy, Vengeance, Village, Vulnerability, War.

After you finish writing your story or when you’ve finished your outline, what has your main character learned from his conflict? What did the main character learn in his battle against one of the conflicts listed above? This is the theme. Make it a universal theme shared by all mankind, so that all of mankind will want to read your book.

The Universal Theme
The universal theme is the story’s (author’s) view about life and how people behave. It is the statement the story makes about society, human nature, or the human condition that the author wants to convey to readers. It’s an observation about life that can apply to any and everyone representing the conflicts, dreams, hopes, and fears across cultures and continents, and from generation to generation. It could be the moral to the story, a teaching, or an observation. It transcends race, gender, sexual preference, and creed. Some examples are love, peace, friendship, and other concepts about life.

Universal themes exist because people worldwide go through the common human experiences of being born, experiencing anguish and joy, and dying come from emotions and that touch and can apply to any and all cultures, genders, ages, sexual preference, creeds, geography, historical periods, and genres.

The universal theme is the story’s (author’s) view about life and how people behave in a particular situation. It is a statement the story makes about society, human nature, or the human condition through the author’s words and characters. The theme is universal when it transcends race, gender, sexual preference, creed. cultures, continents, and generations representing the conflicts, dreams, hopes, and fears such as: love, peace, friendship, and other concepts about life that can apply to any and everyone.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Conflict of Nature against death
You do not have to worry about dying and death. It’s a natural thing.

Law and Order Television Series by Dick Wolf
Conflict of Good over Evil – Dick Wolf presents both sides of the issues
Even with the latest technology and evidence, police and district attorneys do not always win their cases against evil.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Love against society, family, death
Love can be so passionate that one would prefer death to living without the loved one.

Universal Emotions

Emotions Are Universal.

Put emotions in your story. It makes your characters come alive. One way to make your story have universal appeal is to add the tension of opposing emotions. We all feel mixed emotions every day. Should we do this? We shouldn’t do that. It’s smart to do this. How could I be so stupid? How could he be so naive? What’s the wisest choice? What are my choices? Do I get a choice? When a character has two or three choices and none of them are very good, it’s tension time for reading and living, and it makes the reader want to turn the page.

All people experience emotions. Putting believable emotions into your story will help it reach more readers.

Here are Paul Ekman’s Big Six Emotions
Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions Robert Plutchik used the above six emotions and added two others below:

Ekman’s Eleven Other Basic Emotions
Pride in achievement
Sensory pleasure

The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin gives nine emotions
Nine Emotions

Nine States of Emotional Empowerment

10 Emotional Triggers That Are Delaying Your True Purpose

Swati Chopra from New Delhi, India says the nine rasas are:
Distress (hunger, discomfort)


Here are websites with information about emotions:

  1. Great! Pictures matched with emotions

I hope you enjoyed my blog post. I hope I enlightened you, rather than confused you. Please let me know if I helped you make your writing appeal to more people, to make it more universally appealing. Capture this universal appeal and you’ll capture an editor’s heart!

Don’t give up on your writing. Never Give Up on winning and resolving conflicts that come your way.

You are a published author in your mind, before you get that way on paper.  You can do it. Yes, you can.

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2010-2021 Joan Y. Edwards

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17 Days to Repaint a Wooden French Provincial Bed

“17 Days to Repaint a Wooden French Provincial Bed” by Joan Y. Edwards

17 Days to Repaint a Wooden French Provincial Double Bed made by Dixie Furniture Company in late 1970’s – early 1980’s.

Around the year 2007, I asked a furniture restorer if he could repaint my French Provincial bed from the 1970s or 1980s. Since it was a shiny glossy paint, he said the new paint wouldn’t stick. I think he meant, he didn’t want to do it. Perhaps it wouldn’t look as good as he would want it to look. At any rate, I kept thinking I would love to get the furniture painted. It looked bad.

In 2010, I started asking around. My older daughter, Lorrie, said someone painted a similar bed that belonged to a friend of hers. She  didn’t know how it turned out. I planned to ask her how it looked. Life happened and this and that. I finally asked her. Her friend said that it had been painted glossy white and looked good.

My logic was: if her bed looked good painted glossy white, then this bed would look good painted glossy white, too.

Now the question in my mind was, could I paint it? I really wanted to paint it. Could I do a good job? Let me give you the background story on my painting career. I had only painted 3 things in my life: pictures, the back of a radiator, and a little bit of a wall in a house our church was repainting. I must have painted at least three strokes before I fell in a hole where they had taken the heat vent out, and sprained my ankle. My husband had to come and get me. Good grief.

It was my daughter, Lorrie’s bed. My younger daughter, Mollie, had used it, too. I asked Lorrie’s permission to paint the bed. She said. ”Go ahead and paint it, Mom.”

I said, “If I mess up, they can always sand it, can’t they?”

She said, “That’s right. It’s all right with me if you paint the bed.”

I was still a little worried about my ability to paint the bed. However, I brought it in and cleaned it up. I was either going to paint it or give it away. I couldn’t give it away in such a dirty condition. When I looked closely at the gold trim, it wasn’t evenly painted.

I said to myself, “Well, if the gold trim doesn’t have to be even-steven all around, I can do it. I can actually do it.”

Day 1 Get advice from internet on how to repaint a wooden bed. How to repaint metal.
a. Clean
b. Sand.
c. Put two coats of primer.
d. Put two coats of regular paint.

Day 2 Bring bed in from garage and wash. Headboard and foot board and rails were extremely dirty. The rails were dirty and also rusty.






Day 3 Buy primer, paint, sanding material, paint brushes, paint tray, roller.
A lady at Home Depot helped me get the supplies I needed to complete the project. Here’s sort of our conversation:

Me: I want to paint an old wooden bed glossy white. I want to paint the metal rails a beige color.
What do I need to buy?

Home Depot Lady: What size bed?

Me: Double.

Home Depot Lady: You’ll need a quart of primer and a quart of glossy white. You’ll have to choose the shade of beige you want for the rails. Here’s a chart on the wall to choose from. I’ll shake the primer and glossy white for you.

Me: Here’s the color I like.

Home Depot Lady: Okay.

Me (when she’s finished mixing the beige) What should I get to paint with?

Home Depot Lady: Is it mostly flat or curvy?

Me (not remembering it’s curvy in part and flat in part) Mostly flat.

Home Depot Lady: You can use a roller if it’s flat. (She went and got a black tray and a roller. Then picked up a package of two replacement rollers.) You’ll need a brush for parts where you can’t reach with the roller. (She reached for an inexpensive nylon brush.)

Me: There are parts that need to be sanded on the metal. They’re rusty. As I understand it, I need to sand over the old paint.

Home Depot Lady: Just use this (she reached for the grayish black sanding block). If it gets dirty, you can rinse it out. It’ll still sand fine.

Me: I won’t need sand paper?

Home Depot Lady: No. You probably won’t need any real sand paper. This should do fine.

Me: I put on two coats of primer. Then I put on two coats of regular paint. Is that correct?

Home Depot Lady: If it’s covered, you might have to put an extra coat of primer.

Me: I believe I’ve got all that I need. Thank you very much. I appreciate your sharing your knowledge and skills with me.






Day 4. My friend, Linda Andersen suggested that I document and take pictures of the project and share it with you on the internet. But, OOPSY! I’d already begun. You wouldn’t be able to see how dirty it was when I brought it in from the garage. You have a good imagination. Here’s a description. Black with spider webs and dirt. Cobwebs and dirt. Dust and dirt.

I had already cleaned the deep down dirt. There was only a little left. So I said, “Why not?”

I washed the last little bit of dirt off of the wooden headboard, foot board, and metal rails. There are pictures here of what the dirty water looked like and what the rags looked like. b. I sanded all the parts where the paint was flaking off of the wooden part. I sanded the metal rails, especially the areas that were rusty.

Day 5 First coat of primer on the top side of the metal rails.







I fixed up a place between two sets of plastic chairs. You’ve heard of workhorses…these were workchairs. I put towels on the floor under them so that I wouldn’t drip paint on the carpet. I did pretty good. I only got 2 spots on the carpet. I can get it off. It dries and flakes partly. Water and soap will get the rest.

Day 6 Second coat of paint of primer paint on the inside part of the metal rails.
First coat of primer on the top of the wooden headboard and foot board.



Some of the primer paint stuck in the brushes. It didn’t seem to be too much. The brush still worked good.




Day 7 First coat of primer paint on the outside part of the metal rails.
First coat of primer paint on the bottom side of the headboard and foot board.



The brush wasn’t doing too well at this point. I decided to go back to Home Depot and buy a couple more brushes. I also bought more rollers and a couple more trays because it was hard to clean the paint out of the tray to use it again. I didn’t end up using the roller again. The paint dripped and made what I called lined puddles. I had to sand them down and repaint them.

Day 8 First coat of primer paint on backside of headboard and foot board.
Put the second primer coat on the outside part of the metal rails.


Day 9 Second coat of primer paint on the backside of the headboard and foot board.
Sanded and put another coat of primer on areas of the metal rails where the paint had made raised up dried puddles of paint.



Day 10 First coat of beige paint on the outside part of the metal rails.
First coat of glossy white paint on the bottom of the headboard and foot board. (February 27, 2010)

Day 11 First coat of beige paint on the outside part and the sides of the metal rails.
First coat of glossy white paint on the backsides, top and sides of the headboard and foot board.

Day 12 Second coat of beige paint on the sides and outside part of the metal rails.
Second coat of glossy white paint on the bottom and sides of the headboard and foot board.


Day 13 First coat of gold paint on the headboard and footboard.
First coat of beige paint on the inside part of the metal rails.
Sanded and repainted the places where the paint and ran and formed raised areas on the headboard, foot board, and rails.


Day 14 Second coat of gold paint on the headboard and foot board.
Painted inside part of the metal rails with second coat of beige paint.


Day 15 Touched up the places where it needed more here and there in places I had missed. One place I smeared the gold paint about an inch in diameter. I don’t know how I did it, but it must have been very easy. It was only a second or so and I looked over and I had a smeared gold spot on the white part of the headboard. I tried wiping it with a paper towel. The gold paint isn’t like the white or beige paint. It won’t hardly rub off. Yikes. I took a piece of sandpaper and sanded it. Then I put one coat of glossy white paint on it today. I decided that I would purchase more expensive brushes that the bristles wouldn’t come off so badly.


Day 16 Put a second coat of paint to touch up that spot where the gold had smeared. Repainted the parts I noticed on the metal and on the wooden part that I had missed. Then I said, “Voila.” I am finished. The pictures of the supplies. Some are listed in the earlier days. I believe I repeated a few to make sure you saw them.
Simply put I used:
For painting – White primer paint for wood and metal, glossy white enamel for the wood (no mixing), glossy beige paint mixed for the shade I chose.
For painting – Very thin brushes to put on gold trim, medium width brush for painting the rest
For painting – roller and roller tray – only used it once – it dripped and left puddles of paint that I had to sand and repaint with a brush. Don’t recommend it. It might be good for a wall, but for my bed project, it didn’t work well at all.
For opening and closing paint cans – a screwdriver to open the can, hammer to close it
For sanding – sandpaper weight 32 and 41 and holder, also a sanding block – like a hard sponge
For cleaning parts – washcloths and cleaner
To protect carpet and tables from paint – towels, plastic tablecloths
To hold parts while I painted – plastic chairs, metal table, pedestal table, transfer seat
For cutting the sandpaper – sharp scissors
For removing gold trim paint – nail polish remover

Day 17 I was so excited to see the bed all dry. All parts not perfect, but as good as I could do them. My heart was dancing and singing. I put the bed together. I was afraid that I had put too much paint on the metal parts that connect with the wooden bed. However, they finally went in. I’m not sure how easy they will be to get out. That’ll be interesting. I may try taking it out before I put the mattress in place. Just to make sure. I decided to purchase a new mattress. After the painting and refinishing. 


Day 18 A month later they delivered my Serta Ravenswood Mattress  and Guardsman mattress cover. I bought a colorful flowered sheets and bedspread set from Target. It looks pretty. Now I consider this project finished. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the account of how I did it.

New Mattress and Box Springs
New sheets on French Provincial Bed after painting.
Matching Quilt and Pillows on French Provincial Bed after painting.

Thanks for reading my blog!!!!!!!!!  I’d be honored to hear from you in the comment section.

I updated this September 28, 2022. I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog. Read new articles of inspiration, information, and humor. Receive free gifts. Join over 263 other subscribers and over 1,730,000 visitors. You’ll be sent an email to confirm your subscription. Thank you.


Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2010-2019 Joan Y. Edwards
All rights reserved.

Flip Flap Floodle Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?
Joan’s Elder Care Guide A guide to help caregivers and elders find solutions.