Less Words more Feeling

Have you ever thought how writing serial chapters is preparing you for that step toward the moment you decide you are going to write a novel? There are several Story Mint writers who have and are going through that experience now. Roseyn is the latest author to do so. Her book has just been launched, following on the heels of Suraya’s novel and mine. Past and present members Enos Russel, Mat Clarke, and Annette Connor are also published. There are two more members in the process of writing novels or non-fiction books. So how does writing serial chapters prepare us for the big step? I took a writing course a long time ago because I wanted to write articles for magazines and local newspapers. After a year, I passed my exam (post correspondence – not recommended for a lot of reasons) which consisted of four modules. One of the modules was particularly hard. I had to write an article of 300 words on ‘Going on a holiday.’ Try as hard as I could, there was no way I could say what I wanted to say in 300 words. I ‘got it’ in the end when my tutor gave me some advice. All journalists have a word count for a story. They can’t just write a flowing piece full of description and humor etc. Facts are what the editor wants to see – all tied up neatly in a piece that moves smoothly from one fact to another and tells the story in the word count allotted. I ended up entitling my article ‘Traveling Light’ and my opening sentence started – Cliff Richard once sang ‘got no bags n’ baggage to slow me down’ in his song Traveling Light. I then went on to advise my readers about packing sensibly when traveling abroad. The piece was boring but it passed with flying colors. Why? Because the title and sub title told half the story – I didn’t have to explain what the article was all about. I didn’t waste words. For a novel to interest a reader, it not only has to tell a story but tell it in a way that holds a reader’s interest. There are rules, more rules, and armchair critics’ rules but the best rules are those that stand the test of time – like taking a good look at your work and cutting out any sentences or words that can be killed without altering the sense or reason or purpose of the plot. Killing your little babies is one of the most important jobs you have to peform whilst editing your work. Keeping the storyline tight and to the point makes it flow; brings out the drama and tension and characters start walking across the screen as you write. Do you see where this is going? Have you noticed that Suraya, Roseyn and myself are always booking chapters? It isn’t because we want to win some competition. We are writing to a set word count and telling a story that flows in 500 words whilst checking our grammar and readability statistics on the word analysis grid. It becomes a way of writing and as we write our novels all the practice and lessons learned on that grid come into play. You could say it’s like riding a bike. Once you’ve got it, you never forget it. If you want to start writing a novel, why not contact either Suraya or myself at the Story Mint. ©Every word in a sentence must have a reason for being there. If you can't find one, throw it away. Ray Stone

©Every word in a sentence must have a reason for being there. If you can't find one, throw it away. Ray Stone

Ray Stone

Publishing Manager

writing tightly
chapter writing


Great blog Ray and sage advice. I find that editing my own writing is easier if I build in time between the writing and editing process (the more the better) and a change of environment is also good. I often move to a different place in my house, or take my laptop to a local cafe, when I'm editing.
Totally agree with you Ray. Writing these chapters has undoubtedly taught me to be a much tighter writer. You only have to ask Suraya to know that!

When I first wrote serial chapters, they would be around 900+ words!!! I thought it impossible to get it down to 500 words, but eventually after much hair pulling, I did. Now, it takes very little effort to trim chapters down.

When i was editing chapters of my own book, I always asked the question, 'Could I start this chapter further into the scene?' Most times, I found I could and it cut out a whole lot of uninteresting, unnecessary blubber.

I agree with Donna about putting some distance between the writing and editing process. Great advice. I like to print my work out, edit on paper and like Donna go somewhere completely different to my office.
As Boston would say "More than a Feeling!"
What an excellent blog Ray. The first tutor I ever had back in 1980 told the class to "kill your darlings". This is a challenge at times, especially when I think I've written the next great piece after Hamlet's speech, 'to be or not to be....'. Sometimes I've even thought it was better and how could I kill such masterful writing? But then I let it quietly age like a good wine only to discover it has gone sour and is quite dreadful or more importantly it does not add anything to the story.Good or bad, it has nothing to offer. I am grateful I put some distance between it and any reader by not immediately releasing it. Good points Donna, Roseyn, and Ray. I love these discussions!