Story Structure

Everyone has a preferred way of preparing to write a story. I used to just sit and write whatever came to mind. Now I know I save a lot of time, and thousands of wasted words, if I do a bit of planning first.

I am writing a short story right now, so I thought you might be interested in the process I now follow thanks to Victoria Lyn Schmidt, who wrote Story Structure Architect.

As I prepare I ask myself these questions:

Automated essay marking - the future or not?


As part of the research into the next phase of the style Guide, I have come across a heated debate over automated essay marking.  Both are based on similar principles. It is not surprising there is opposition to automated marking, but it is surprising that the charge is led by such luminaries as Noam Chomsky.

As a leading linguistic academic, I would have thought that he would be interested in observing how machines learn language and interpret meaning. In a way, I would have thought that machine learning replicated stages of learning language.

Beware of assumptions when writing

One of our writers Bruce, is producing an autobiographical account of being a police dog handler. He is posting each complete story on the Writers’ Pad on the Story Mint. These action packed stories are winning lots of praise and requests for more. They are made all the more poignant because they are based on fact.

I was really impressed when one reader left this comment: ‘I am enjoying your stories so please keep them coming. However, I would like to know your dog better,’

This is an excellent piece of feedback.

The Keys to Success


Our success, in large part, is determined by the company we keep and the books we read.

I was reminded of this recently when I finished reading an excellent book called The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. It was recommended by a mentor who has, for over a year, challenged me to become a confident sales person. It seems silly that I even needed coaching on that now.

Storytelling can bring healing and re-unite people


A most interesting thing is happening at The Story Mint. The chapters of the serials are gripping and reflect an amazing burst of creative energy by each contributor. Crown of Thorns is shaping up to be a fantastic read. It is moving smoothly from one chapter to the next, each building tension on the other and the imagery is superb. I believe it should be widely promoted if the standard continues, as I have no doubt readers will enjoy the vivid yet moody, mysterious storytelling.

A blaze of light

Whenever I’m trying to work through an issue or situation, I have phrases that come to mind and they begin playing over and over - and as they do, the solution to the problem begins to take shape. These phrases usually come from favourite writers; poets, song and prose writers. I am sure I am not alone in this. Inspiration comes from many sources shedding light on dark thoughts and giving us courage to climb mountains that seem too high. The phrase I found myself repeating recently was by one of my favourite musician/poets, Leonard Cohen.

A young talent.


One of the most exciting aspects of this job is finding new talented writers. Paris Whitehead is 12 years old and her posting on the Writers’ Pad has readers asking when the next chapter is coming out. I hope she does not keep them waiting too long.

Are authors entrepreneurs?


I hope that when I get to the end of setting up The Story Mint and developing the Style Guide, I don’t discover I’m an entrepreneurial junkie. I know I will miss the amazing geyser-like excitement that comes from turning what at first glance appears to be a failure, into a success. The biggest buzz of all has been realising that my business is not The Story Mint but the Style Guide, of which the Story Mint is part.

The Style Guide encourages writers to pursue their distinctive voice.

In a few days’ time, we welcome Kristin High School students to The Story Mint. We hope they enjoy the various activities we offer. In time they will initiate their own activities in addition to those we offer and it will be exciting to see what they come up with.

We applaud the Head of the English Department’s initiative and foresight and we hope they will be the first of many school groups to join us.

When the tax agent sends mixed messages…


In branding, a consistent style is critical. I am not talking about the logo and all the collateral generally regarded as branding. I am speaking about the way an organisation speaks to its customers – internal and external.


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