Symbiosis and Stories

I was at a writing workshop on Friday, run by the awesome Natasha Lester, when she said the word symbiotic. She was talking about the character and their relationship with their fictional world and it triggered a whole stream of thought in my mind.

You see, I passionately believe that everything in a story should be symbiotic. But what am I talking about? According to, symbiotic means ‘to have an interdependent relationship.‘ So this means that I believe that everything in a story relies on everything else. In other words, if it’s in your story it needs to have a reason to be there.

Its a pretty straightforward concept, not so easy in practice. Why? Because it’s tempting to put everything into your story, ensuring that the reader gets exactly what you mean. This in turn overwhelms the reader and in effect makes them want to put your story down and go for something less wordy. So how do you counteract this? Editing.

Editing is your friend. The first draft is you telling yourself the story, after that you’re telling the reader. And the reader wants it in enough detail that they can build it in their mind, but not get bogged down. Readers are great, they have an imagination that allows them to take words and picture the story in their mind. Don’t deny them that pleasure.

So after the initial writing get ruthless. You know the picture your story is painting, so try and say it with as few words as possible. It’s a fine balance and one that takes practice. But it is that missing ingredient that takes a story from good to great. To understand what I’m talking about, grab your favourite book and reread it, paying particular attention to how everything goes together.

And remember what Stephen King said.


For great editing articles check out Natasha Lester’s  post on how she completes a second draft, Jodi Gibson’s What I’ve Learned About Editing and for fantastic hands on tips, check out 10 Steps for Editing Your Own Work By Mark Nichol.

Do you think everything in a story should have a reason to be there? Let me know what you think in the comments and have a happy and creative week everyone 🙂


2 thoughts on “Symbiosis and Stories

  1. Shame we didn’t get to meet at Natasha’s workshop!
    I found the workshop really useful, and as it so happens, the book I was reading at the time had so many similes in it that with my new focus, they leapt of the page and cemented what Natasha had taught us.
    One day our paths will cross. Perth’s small enough! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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