16 posts / 0 new
Last post

Where writers and readers can discuss anything to do with the serials.


What do you think about the starters?

A Firework With A Bang or A Dud Squid

Taking part in a serial and writing a chapter with time constraints whilst getting on with all the other essentials that go to make up our daily routine, is hard. It is therefore justifiable that writers should be proud of their work when it is published. However, there are no time constraints or any pressure on the writers of the starters. They can be written at the writer’s convenience and submitted without spelling mistakes (spellcheck is on the computer) without passive sentencing (again, on the computer) overuse of adverbs, and changes in tense (leave that for the longer pieces of work, you only have 500 words – it truly sucks most times in 500 words). The editorial staff is looking to make sure that the serial gets off to a cracking start, that the characters stand out and that the plot and storyline are memorable and the read is smooth. What they do not want to do is spend time looking at mistakes that the writer should have eliminated.
A receptionist is the first point of contact for a customer visiting a company and by the standard of her/his ability to make the customer happy the company is judged. If the customer is greeted with a smile and made to feel important then the customer won’t want to go elsewhere to do business. Unfortunately if the customer is left standing while the receptionist finishes a conversation with a friend before recognizing the customer is there, the customer will not be going back.
The same is true with the starter page. If it is dull and uninteresting, the reader will not wish to visit for the next chapter. That’s why we have editors to suggest ways in which the story can become exciting and interesting and why they would love to spend more time on the important matters rather than on silly mistakes the lazy writer should have dealt with. At least 50% of starters do not get on the grid (Earnest) and they should. Starter writers have all the time in the world to make sure their work does. When a writer takes the time to correct their work and make sure it is acceptable grammatically and up to a certain standard he or she is showing their commitment to becoming a published writer and that is what The Story Mint wants to encourage and promote. Everyone has to start somewhere and although we may not be fantastic storytellers to start with we can at least make sure our submissions, particularly starters, are as clean and grammatically correct as possible. They do not have to be perfect story wise.
Guess whose name will be remembered when a reader comes to the end of a good serial? Fontaine’s Enterprise – who do you think of, the author of the fifth chapter or the seventh? I doubt it. You remember the title and the writer who created the story. Guess who is going to read the serial – the world. Would you read another serial whose starter was written by the same author? Of course you would and so will all the other readers around the world. When that author eventually has a book, novel, short story published, an audience is already there to purchase and read.


In general, do you find continuity in the serials difficult?


In general, no. However, there are many threads to continue in any story and some may not be thought about. A writer who dreams up an idea knows, or disregards as unimportant all the minor aspects of characterisation and setting; writers who pick up a story to continue it have to make decisions about all of these subjects. Missed bits lead to questions in the mind of a reader. Over time, you could make a checklist for writers. This would reduce the likelihood that things will be missed. Writers won't know all the answers; some things will not have been specified. This is their opportunity to add layers. Questions could include things like: Which part are you writing; do you know how many parts have already been written and have you read them; who are the characters so far and what are their relationships; who is wearing what; where is everyone located; what do you know of the motives, intent, etc of each; what is the time, day, season, weather (in so far as these things are relevant); what was the pivotal event or climax in the preceding part which requires a reaction. And so on. A checklist would help writers 'tick boxes' to ensure nothing important to the story is forgotten.

A check list is a good idea

A check list is a good idea but this should be written down by the writer themselves. Writers have to develop a tidy mind and once they have achieved that, one normally finds their writing skills improve. ie. Taking time to work out a tidy and concise OUTLINE that they can follow and adjust along the way as necessary. This is probably one of the biggest lessons we all have to learn. No-one has ever been published without having some sort of outline. In fact, I remember one publisher in Writer's and Artist's Yearbook saying that before he accepted any book to read he insisted on seeing a detailed outline, chapter by chapter. A tidy mind produces tidy work. A check list is a good place to start.

Are We Shy?

Why are we finding it hard to get writers to book chapters in the serials? Let’s get something straight. Either writers want to be published or they don’t. Joining in the serials does two things. You join a learning curve and with time and practice you get better at writing and all the aspects involved in creative writing. You also get used to writing in several different genres. So why hold back?
Embarrassment that your work will look bad and other writers will say nasty things about your work. Boo,hoo – so what? Have you had a look at their work? Any writer who feels this way is not a writer – full stop. Sorry but unless you are prepared to take a few knocks then you are going to fail. Get with it and DO YOUR THING. Stop worrying about others. Be creative and let it all hang out. Experiment, try writing in different tenses and post some work so others can let you know what they think. Every time someone makes a comment you will learn something about writing and about yourself.
When we post the next starter I would love to see the chapters booked within a week. When I see that I know we have a group of committed writers who want to HAVE A GO! Make sure your name is down for recognition as a writer. Don’t hang back and become a timid pretend writer.

Seeing Is Believing

Some writers took notice regarding letting the reader see and smell the scenes, take a look at the characters, and experience the emotion and tension. The difference is astounding, both Joe for Go West Young Man and Cindi for The Bond in particular. Their work became 3D and was interesting, giving us a better insight into the characters make-up and a colorful picture of the surroundings. I do hope all writers take a good look at those two chapters and indeed my own, and start thinking about spending more time on these details rather than racing through to another scene; just show a little of the story and let the next writer carry on. We don't have race to move a story along. If characters and their surroundings are developed more, the story moves along naturally. Earnest became a headache for some writers in the early stages. Now, most submitted work is going on the grid. We are improving and it is now we have to step up a gear with our development of characters and their surroundings. Gradually we should gel together and the serials will get better and better. The real test is that we are writing all kinds of genres and story telling within 500 words. That's quite an achievement. So let's work at the characters and how they feel, what they look like and work smell and tension into their surroundings.

We are the first writers here and it is your work that the future students joining the Story Mint will see. They will see how you progressed. I hope we can develop our skills to such an extent that those students will read you and want to aspire to your standards. I think you all deserve a pat on the back. Well done!

Get a grip and just do it

I'm fully supportive of getting work in the public domain and living with anything negative that comes your way.  Not everyone can like your work so live with it because if you are original that will appeal.  This experience is about balance so don't be timid or afraid of getting some criticism.  The most popular writers live with that to and get to the other side. 

Does the word 'RULES' make you word blind?

 I have a question for you, especially if you contribute to the serials. HAVE YOU READ THE RULES? For some reason I am receiving MS over the 500 limit on words, MS not going on the grid, and characters names changing or couches turning into beds. It is time we started to get a little more particular about the way we present our work. 450 - 500 word limit - read all previous chapters and don't rely on memory - check for continuity - and please don't submit a MS 24hrs after the previous chapter has been published. This shows you are more interested in looking at the TV than spending half an hour a night to produce a good chapter that will be read throughout the world.

I don't mind being blasted for my post here because you will be proving my point. You only seem to read what you want to read but refuse to read the few simple rules we have governing the Story Mint Serials. You love 'having a go' and sprouting off about a pet hate but silence is deafening when it comes to talking about rules. It's like a deadly deseise. Well I am sorry to say but unless you can organize your writing by following rules you will find it hard to be published at all. Agents require a query letter plus an outline. Publishers want you to listen and take advice from an editor (who will rip your work apart).

For goodness sake, PLEASE stop giving the editorial staff extra work that they should NOT be doing. Take a little pride in your work and let it show by following the rules.  Thank you.

Getting It All Together

This week an author submitted a chapter that for me, stood out as exceptional, not because it was well written (I hope I will forgive for saying that) and not because the author stuck to the rules (because they didn't - the MS was late) and not because the chapter flowed, because it was a little flat. What stood out and almost shouted at me was the way the author had purposefully worked at making the characters stand out, the surroundings visible, and my mouth watered as I smelled hot 'pastees'. This chapter focused on a tender relationship and we saw Liam get embarrassed and awkward over a beautiful girl, described really well so that we could all see. It takes a lot of work to make a reader feel for a character and understand emotions like embarrassment yet this was achieved in an almost casual way. We only get 500 words and several days to get it all together. Looking at past serials it is not hard to find a lot of chapters that fell flat. As we have progressed, the standard has started, ever so slowly, to improve. Now we are used to writing 500 words and in the main, improving continuity and minimum dialog. The next level is to really work at characterization, tension, emotions, and senses. When we work on these we tend to lose out on sentence construction as our concentration is being spent elsewhere. As we progress, the art of writing fiction gets harder, not easier. With each new level we rise to, there are more things to learn but as we have to remember the lessons already tucked away in our memory, like sentence construction. 

Take a look at Simon's chapter eight of Tokyo Curry on Writers Pad. This is a great example of sentence construction embracing Characterization, Tension, Emotions, and Senses - an example of Getting It All Together.  

Why do we have to have guidelines?

As Serials Manager I frequently receive chapters which need a lot of re-working. It’d be marvellous if you could help me by doing a few things.

The first of these is to refer to the guidelines and make sure you have followed them by:

  • Letting me know in good time if you can’t meet the deadline,
  • Getting your contribution to me in plenty of time. That is three days before it is due to be published,
  • Making sure all the character’s names are the right ones and spelt correctly
  • Making sure the characters are behaving according to their previous portrayals,
  • Making sure the storyline follows or fits in with what has been written in previous chapters,
  • Putting it through the Style Guide and making sure it is on the grid,
  • Content is for general audiences including school children will be reading these serials, so keep it family friendly,
  • As each writer is reminded that he or she is next in line to write a chapter, a set of guidelines are sent just to make sure everyone is on the same page. Granted we make an exception to our new and inexperienced writers but for others it seems the guidelines are an invisible note on the bottom of their reminder,
  • There is no more the 2% passive voice.

 The more we participate, the more the readers can see how we improve. That is one of the biggest reasons we are here - to help, educate and promote you, the writer. Please help me to make you look good.

Raymond Stone, Serials Manager, The Story Mint.

What is happening with the serials

I booked chapters in two upcoming serials: Crown of Thorns, and One's Company... it seems like months ago and they are not filled in with other writers yet. What is happening with them. I was especially excited about the Madbrit's piece and wanted it to get going.  What's up?

New Look

Hi Joe,

by now you would have had the letter explaining what is happening in 2013. The serials are now booking and as far as One's Company is concerned, we just need 3 more writers. sure we will have them by the end of next week.

Serial Updates

There will be a weekly update on serials from next week as well as a full report on them in our monthly newsletter. I hope you will all read them as they will keep you informed of any developments with the serials.



Serial Manager

Moving right along

There seems to be a tendency for writers to worry about cramming as much action etc. as possible into a chapter as a way of moving the story forward. One of the lessons I have learned over the last year in my own writing is that ‘keeping the story moving’ does not necessarily mean piling on action or using characters speech to cut corners. In a recent chapter of ‘Crown Of Thorns’ – (5) we see one of the main characters following professor Florence through the rath. He knocks himself out and eventually emerges into night and a great distance away, unable to figure the reason why. In creating this sequence, the writer has carried the tension forward from the previous chapter and introduced an air of mystery. The whole sequence involves one character’s POV and takes place over a few minutes – yet the story moves forward rapidly, leaving the reader wanting to know what happens next.

Continuity has also become something that a few writers have problems with. Some read the previous chapter only – others read the starter and the previous chapter only. Continuity is not about reading someone else’s work to get the gist of the story. To achieve proper continuity the writer must read the Preface and ALL chapters to get an overall understanding of the plot, the characters, the surroundings, the period – and the feel of tension and emotion running through it. Writing is an enjoyable passion and we should never try to restrict our freedom to express ourselves but at the same time, remember when we take part in serials we are part of a team. Continuity is one guideline we must observe in order to present the team’s work in the best possible way.

Raymond Stone

Serial Manager

Log in or register to post comments