Building Cool Stories Right: Words + Edits = Magic

Recently I got an email from the folks at Seahorse Magazine about a story I wrote that said, “To my eye it’s the best piece we’ve published this year.” That feels pretty good! 

Of course, even an article that the same email called “magnificent” is only as good as the subject, editing, and graphics—which brings me to the topic of this post, the magic fairy dust of collaboration. I usually think of writing as something I do on my own; today, I’m thanking others for making a good story with my byline into a really cool piece.

Here’s how it works

  • Seahorse asks me to write about a particular topic, providing a fairly detailed brief—and a generous deadline
  • I interview the key people, preferably in person
  • I write the story, striving for distinctive but without straying too far from the original outline
  • I submit my version—hopefully before that generous deadline

Within a day, I receive a “Thanks Carol!” email. Then, if I’ve done my job well… the crickets of silence begin.

Months later…

I’ve learned to actively forget about stories once they’ve been accepted, so by the time I see the final result it’s almost like reading it for the first time—even if not a single word has been changed. And what a treat to see how much more impact my words have when combined with the right graphics! 

Juicy Story

This particular piece was about Moore Bros, a “bespoke carbon composite” company; great subject, check. But I was quite surprised to find the editors had added a lot of extra background and detail to what I’d submitted. Those of you who read this blog regularly will notice far more technical language than I’m capable of on my own… and I definitely can’t take any credit for the deep-dive into the history of ground-effect aircraft. So I followed up to ask if I should’ve done more digging. “Your core piece was excellent,” they wrote back, “and the story just too juicy for us to resist chasing them for more info!” 

Collaboration Magic 

Writing may seem like a solo pursuit, but this was a great reminder that my best work comes about when others add in their own ten pence as well. Editing is much, much easier than starting with a blank page—and it’s my words that got this “magnificent” party started. So here’s to the alchemy of cool subject + writing + editing + graphic design! Maybe Seahorse couldn’t have published their “best piece of the year” without me—but to that I say, “right back atcha.”

To fully appreciate the layout, here’s a PDF of the story. (It may be easier to read on the Seahorse website. ) You can also subscribe and get your very own copy of the October issue!

Previous Seahorse articles

Speaking of subscribing, this blog list is growing and thanks for your comments. Let me know what you think of this latest piece, either below or by email… and I promise to keep you posted on all the exciting stuff that’s currently in progress.