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.

Agents Crying – They can’t (cannot) find a word wrong.

©The publishing world is so full of grumpy literary agents it is hard to find one that will stop drinking coffee because they get involved in the plot you have created – that’s if they get past the first page. Writing is such a complex art because we are creating our story and characters in the first instance to please ourselves. However, when the story is finished it has to appeal to other readers as well. And while we are dealing with that we are also remembering all the rules of writing – and bending a few of them as we develop our personal skills. So how do we catch the agent’s eye?

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.

Suspend agents’ disbelief and hook them in

During the first year of serials we had our first serious debate between writers about the phrase ‘suspended disbelief.’ I also answered a critic who slammed one of my books regarding the same subject a few months later.

From ‘Love the Critic’ – an article I posted in the Edit Lounge at

Fiction contains a certain amount of SD. I wonder how this reviewer would get on with all the totally unbelievable plots in James Bond.


Dialogue is the glue that holds a book together. When I sit and write, I become each of my characters in turn. I’m an actor in my head and my tone of voice and feelings change as each character takes the stage to perform. How do we make the dialogue come alive? It isn’t hard but it takes practice and patience and, before you know it, you are riding a bike and changing dialogue gears without giving your mind and itching fingers a second thought. So how do we write unforgettable dialogue that holds the reader’s attention?


Does your pen write with a boring black ink or have you got an ink mixture of many different colours that bring your story alive? That’s what agents will be asking themselves as they open your manuscript.


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