As a ‘regular contributor’ to Woman’s Weekly’s fiction pages (well, 6 stories accepted so far!), I’ve just received an email from the magazine’s Fiction Editor, Gaynor Davies and Assistant Fiction Editor, Clare Cooper, with some useful tips and advice, which I found motivating and I thought you might too, if you are submitting to the UK women’s magazine market.
I have a half-written short story which I was worried had too ‘strong’ a theme for WW but I think, in the light of this email, I think I’m going to try it on them.
The underlying message seems to be: we needs lots of fiction – but it needs to be GOOD!
So, if you think you’ve got what they’re looking for – give it a go! But read the guidelines carefully, here first.
And by the way, if you’ve got the latest issue of Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special (pictured above), there’s a very clever story on page 43, by Patsy Collins, called ‘Holiday Temptation’. One-pagers are tricky to pull off, as you haven’t got much time or space for character development. This one is impressive (I won’t spoil it by telling you why – you’ll have to read it for yourself) and it’s also, interestingly, written in the rarely-used ‘second person’ ie: the narrator speaks directly to the reader – ‘I’m aware of you and your friends…’ and so on. Thank you Patsy, I will be using your story to demonstrate ‘second person narration’ in future writing classes!
Anyway, I digress. Here’s the message from the fiction editor of WW:
Dear Regular Writer,
A very happy new year to you. I am writing once again to encourage you to “keep writing” (as Bruce Forsyth might say were he to pick up his quill pen). We REALLY need lots and lots of good, fresh stories to fill Fiction Special and the main weekly.
I’ve been delighted with the success of both titles in the last year or two. They are holding their own very nicely and this is thanks to the efforts of our contributors. However, over the last few months we’ve noticed a slight “softening” in the quality of many of the stories we are getting in and we are rejecting far more than we (and possibly you!) would like. A lot of these are much too “safe” and predictable and some veer towards downright soppy and dated! We’re also having to reject too many one-pagers because the endings are weak or flippant, reading more like the punchlines of jokes.
It really is important to have the confidence to write in your own voice and to take a chance on being fresh and original. This doesn’t mean crazy sci-fi plots or themes which you know aren’t suitable for WW readers. It means being subtle. Show don’t tell. Remember, too, that humour is always welcome, and that way you can use old themes in a way that still feel new. However, there are some themes we don’t need at the moment. No more “retired/redundant hubby getting under my feet”; adopted children being reunited with their mothers and brides with cold feet until further notice, please.
Clare and I hope you are now fired with enthusiasm. We very much look forward to hearing from you.