Suraya Dewing's blog

Writing with style

It is always a worthwhile exercise to study the work produced by other writers not just to be entertained but rather to examine how they use words. In fact, reading is now an exercise of studying why someone has used words a certain way and what they are trying to achieve with the way the words sit on the page.

In some ways, the appearances of the words artistically tell the story in the same way a portrait captures someone’s features.

Conflict: the heart of every good story

In her excellent book Story Structure and Architecture, Victoria Lynn Schmidt PhD points out that conflict keeps a story going and a reader engaged. Loosen off the tension arising from conflict and you loosen the thread that ties the reader to the story. So keep it coming, tightening the winch with every turn. Start slow and gradually wind it up until the reader is almost shouting at the character to do something to relieve the tension.

Writing Scenes in a story

With every newsletter we put out we include a list of writing tips. These usually include web sites and information I have picked up from various sources. They are always relevant and interesting but I was beginning to wonder if there was ever an end to the pithy advice people have for writers. Often the hints come from writers themselves who have done the hard yards and know that being a writer is far from glamourous. Alternatively, they come from observers who have studied the techniques of writing. Both points of view are valid.

Words are powerful

Words have enormous power and, by extension, writers also have great power. Every word we place on paper or in the ether using technology has the capacity to change hearts and to increasing understanding at a cerebral level.

An artist’s words have the power to move hearts, to console the broken and inspire them to mend and to broaden a reader’s experience of the world.

The value of writing serial chapters

The Story Mint now has a number of writers who are enjoying success as professional writers. Others are on the verge of achieving their dreams of becoming successful authors. Those who have been with The Story Mint for the last four years are discovering how exciting it can be to know within themselves that they write well. It is also very exciting to know what to look for as they write and to correct some writing habits that have held them back. Readers are keen to follow their work.


I can often tell a new writer by the silence in their writing. I find it is something early stage writers forget about. I did.

Now a days, I pause as I’m writing and ask myself when did I last mention sound because it is a sense I am least conscious of.

However, I had a sharp reminder when one of my tutors, many years ago, wrote on a piece of my writing, “This reads like a silent movie.”

He was right but even in a silent movie the sound of the machine is clattering in the background or there is music, rarely absolute silence, as if the viewer was in a vacuum.

Budget versus comfort when travelling: impressions of Brazil

We were budget travellers. The team was most important and their accommodation was priority. Supporters had three choices of package – gold, silver and bronze. They paid all their expenses and many chose the more expensive gold and silver packages. Staff, volunteers, and some supporters took the bronze package.

This might sound like boring detail but I have a reason for telling you this.

Whichever package you chose determined what your impression of Sao Paulo was.

Competitor's dealing with stress

World Skills New Zealand

Competitor wisdom

The opening ceremony was an ordeal for a number of the competitors. They had a long day with a start at 5.30am, the school visit, and preparation for the opening ceremony, which meant a late night.

Messages from home to the team at Sao Paulo

The competition is now the full focus of the competitors. There is no distracting them. As I wander around, observing them, I can see the fixed concentration on their faces. Many of them are so focused they do not see us, or if they do they shoot us a quick smile, then get back to thinking about the task ahead.

Home is a tremendously long way away but there is no time to think about that. However, some of them have brought home with them and set up their stations accordingly.

The Opening Ceremony of the 43rd World Skills international competition

Last night, over 20,000 supporters of competitors from around the world gathered at the Ibirapuera Gymnasium to see their teams march in the opening ceremony of the 43rd Worldskills International competitions.

There was a block of over 20 kiwis in one part of the stadium surrounded by at least 200 Chinese beside and behind us and over 200 Russians in front of us.

As each team marched in, I found myself getting quite emotional. These young people represented the best of the best in the world and NZ was among them.


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