Lessons we learn as we write

I am enjoying working with our writers from India. There are many reasons for this. I remember how I was when I started…when I thought writing was easy, until I tried to give it to other people to read and they told me truthfully, what they thought of it.

I recall some very painful moments throughout that process. But they were turning points. They made me work on my writing until I feel confident that what I write is worth reading.

Quiet please - don't say a word

I just finished a re-edit of one of my books and was given some sound advice on a whole list of things that agents are looking for in order to reject your work. Don’t get me wrong. They are still looking for that book that will be a gem. It is much easier, though, to look for pet hates. If they’re there, it normally means a one liner rejection note.

So what is it they are looking for on the hate list? I’ll pick a few.

Ever heard of a writer’s crutch?

How do we give a character personality?

I was working with a writer this week and I asked him to add details to a character so that it became more recognisable. I often find that writers assume we know their character simply through what they say.

Russian Writers

Recently, a writing tips page pointed out the importance of reading Russian authors if you want to become a skilled writer.

Are loose ends in a story ok?

Does every story need to be neatly tied up with every loose end accounted for? In her blog ‘Loose ends in a story’, KM Weiland talks about this and it makes very good reading.

It also set me to thinking about my own storytelling. The serials have taught me to write more open ended stories. As I pondered the question of whether all stories need to be neatly tied up, I realised they do not. Life does not come in neatly tied packages, so why should stories?


One thing the serials reveal immediately is change in tense. If one chapter is in the past tense and the next in present it stands out and causes the reader to pause to figure out what is going on. It can be quite confusing.

We all have writing challenges. Mine is where to put the commas. Other people try too hard to be clever instead of letting the story tell itself. Others struggle with tense.

Technology in partnership with tutors

The EDTech for Export one day conference at Te Papa, Wellington, was the first gathering I have been to where every speaker said something that was relevant to what we are doing at The Story Mint. The content was engaging and inspiring. There are some remarkable people exploring ways to make education relevant to students and using these solutions around the world. It is truly exciting.

A writer's list

Metro (a popular NZ magazine) editor, Simon Wilson, recently produced an excellent list of tips for writers.

There are some that are stand out must do’s in my view so, while the reader of this blog can go to the list through the hyperlink provided, I would like to choose some that stood out for me and explain why they resonate with me.

Serials Galore

I have a habit of cruising through the serials every so often. Not just the current ones but the early ones too. Every time I find one or two serials that catch my eye and I turn to the beginning and read them through. What normally tweaks my interest is a writer who is a regular contributor. To read how far they have come when I read a later serial they have written a chapter for is astounding.

Never limit your potential by the way you think

Recently I attended a dinner to announce the Tool Black team, a group of 14 of New Zealand’s top apprentices who are going to compete against other trade apprentices in Sao Paulo in three months’ time. The dinner was the final step before going to compete on the international stage against 72 other countries.


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