Story writing essentials

By Anne Giles

The Writers’ Group was treated to an 2023 Writers, Sandie Watts, Andrew Levettinsightful and useful presentation at its October meeting by Andrew Levett, the Story Mentor. He introduced us to some tools for revision and editing which are essential for all writers in honing their writing skills.

The Group regularly has guest speakers attend their meetings, in person and online, local and overseas to address a range of aspects of writing.

Writers Group Convenor, Sandie Watts is pictured with The Story Mentor, Andrew Levett.

All writing, long or short, fiction or non-fiction, Andrew Levett told the Group, needs to be revised once the story is completed to assess whether it works overall.  Editing, on the other hand is the process of correcting, and ensuring the story is presented consistently.

Some of the main points he covered were:

Revision overview:

  • Done after the whole story is completed
  • Leave a time gap in between. This way it is fresh read and not as the writer remembers.
  • Choose someone else to read it and be honest, not a best friend or kind family member
  • Don’t lose the flow of the writing to check research – mark the place  [Find date for new house]
  • Return later and insert checked data


  • Need distinctive voices or style to show their personalities
  • Each character needs a goal for their motivation to be believable
  • Provide reason for their actions
  • When characters need to change it should be progressive so reader believes it could happen
  • Active characters are more interesting
  • Limit the number to primary and secondary characters
  • Avoid tertiary characters as too many details to follow.

Pacing of Scenes

  • Should flow easily with effective transitions
  • Beware too much information – “Start late and get out early”
  • Mood can change for dramatic tension e g  to show characters in conflict

Editing overview

  • Correction of grammar and punctuation
  • Read aloud to identify errors e g verb tense, overuse of adjectives and adverbs, word repetition
  • Check character point of view for consistency

Point of view

  • Choose the most interesting character to tell your story and
  • keep this consistent throughout.


  • Consistency of tense
  • Appropriate tense for story


  • Minimise word tags e g said, replied
  • Use words in dialogue to set tone of speech eg instead of writing "she screamed," use an exclamation mark  Ie  “Show don’t tell”

To find out more about Andrew Levett and his services go to The Story Mentor

To find out more about the Writers’ Group go to FHWA Writers


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