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.

It is a very exciting moment when a writer knows in his or her heart of hearts that what is on the page is high quality and deserves recognition.

All have learnt these skills while writing serial chapters for The Story Mint. Many readers tell me that they cannot believe how the quality has improved. I also am amazed!

The first skill each writer learns and discovers is that although he or she has a preferred genre, writing for other genres can also be exciting. They discover that a well told story has qualities in common.

These are many:

A strong story line is essential. That story line takes the reader from one place to another in a believable and engaging way.

It is not about word length but rather about how those words go together. Every word is well chosen, well crafted, and in the chapter because it serves a purpose. It adds to the story in some way.

Character development is all about getting inside the character and building on his or her strengths and weaknesses. A well rounded three dimensional character always has flaws as no-one is ever perfect.

Ambience and atmosphere engages a reader’s senses – smell, taste, sensory, audio. Good use of these draws the reader into the imaginary world.

But most of all they learn that all this is possible to achieve in 500 words. That is about writing economically and not relaxing into rambling mode.

Other lessons serial writing teaches.

Writers learn other very important things as they write serial chapters.

One of these is to ‘let go’. This is important because once a piece of writing goes out into the public domain it no longer belongs to the writer. It now belongs to the reader. What the reader might say about it may come as a surprise to the writer but it is the prerogative of the reader to take whatever perspective he or she chooses. This is what French literary critic Roland Barthes meant when he said, ‘The Author is dead’. Once an Author has published something, it is open to a variety of interpretations. The reader cannot say definitively, ‘that is what the Author meant’. But then neither can the Author expect the reader to take a particular meaning from his or her writing.

This principle also applies to writers of serial starters. When a writer posts a story starter, he or she will inevitably have an idea of where the story should go and how subsequent writers should handle the following chapters. The subsequent writers rarely do. They bring to their chapter their own experiences and beliefs. They take the story to wherever they are inspired to take it.

Through this process, writers learn to let go of their own piece of writing in order that it may gain a life of its own. They also discover that any writing idea is not going to be replicated or stolen because no-one ever thinks exactly as another person does. They all have their own nuances.

Finally, they discover that anything they write is always open to a range of interpretations….all of them valid.

The other thing we do without being aware of it is that, as serial chapter writers, we compare our writing to other people’s. It makes us question whether we could have written something better. We see immediately what works and why. We see the different techniques and understand what keeps us engaged as readers.

It is unbelievably exciting to see how all this has led to greater writing confidence and competence. When I started out, I could never have imagined the writing richness that would result.

writing skills
Roland Barthes