What ‘Woman’s Weekly’ Wants (as of today..)

gremlinWriting ‘Gremlins’

Before I get on to the bit you’ve come to see, I just have a quick request. I’m writing an article about our writing ‘gremlins’ – you know, those evil beggars that sit on your shoulder when you’re trying to write, telling you it’s all rubbish and you can’t do it and who do you think you are, anyway..?

Do any of you have a ‘gremlin’ and if so, what effect does he/she have on you and, more importantly, how do you deal with the pesky thing?!

Thanks – any comments gratefully received…

Woman’s Weekly Contributors’ Message

Just had an email from the lovely Maureen Street at WW (‘lovely’ because, for once, she’s not rejecting one of my stories). It’s a letter to ‘regular contributors’ (ooh, get me. If only).

A few weeks ago, they made a plea for more 1000 word stories (can’t remember if I told you that or not?) Anyway, forget that now because it’s all changed! This is what the email says:

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the potting shed..!

Thank you for the tremendous response to our request for one-pagers. It’s been brilliant. Keep ’em coming please.

Now we are urgently asking for 2-pagers (about 1,800 words). These can be on any theme but please avoid retirement (especially where hubby is in the way!). Also weddings of any description and stories about adoption.

And if you’d like to write something longer for Fiction Special, we’d be very pleased to hear from you. Anywhere from 5,500 words to 8,000 would be great!

OK, you can go back to your cuttings now, while you dream up a storyline!

(Ah, Maureen, if only it were that easy…)

And, blow me, if I haven’t recently sent WW a story that involves adoption (eek, that one will be bouncing back then, any moment) and two other stories that are NOT the length they’re now asking for. Back to the drawing board… (or the ‘potting shed’?)

And don’t forget to let me know about your ‘Gremlins’ please..!!

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20 Responses to What ‘Woman’s Weekly’ Wants (as of today..)

  1. ados123 says:

    Thanks for posting this update from WW. I also recently posted them a 1000 word story. Oh well…

  2. susan jones says:

    Hi Helen, my gremlin is when my novel has gone all noddy in the park. I’ve sent in an antidote recipe to writing magazine – Jonathan Telfer, how to get out of the situation. I seem happy to pull up a chair and leave my characters doing their own thing…… Lazy, that’s all…..

  3. sampayne11 says:

    Hi Helen, my gremlin is called Dave…I blogged about him here: http://chasintheplot.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/we-need-to-talk-about-dave/

  4. Jenny Roman says:

    Hi Helen,
    I too had the email from WW to ‘regular contributors’ (if only, indeed!). One of my grelims is when editors give a list of all those famous well-worn themes they never want to see again, and I cringe realising that all the stories I’ve recently submitted could be found on the list! When you discover that something you thought was a clever plot device has in fact been used by hundreds of would-be writers before you, it’s easy to end up thinking you have no imagination and should simply give up! They do, of course, say there are no new stories, just new ways of telling them…but it’s finding those new ways. 😉

  5. Jenny Roman says:

    Oh, and that I can’t type “gremlins”!! 😉

  6. My gremlin is standard words or phrases. When I become aware I’m over-using them I get all self-conscious about my writing and lose the flow, which makes it happen more often, which makes the writing more stilted… you get the idea. My solution is to write without looking at the screen and worry about it later, if possible!
    Also, I have nominated you for the Liebster Award because I love this blog! Don’t feel you have to accept!

  7. Tracy Fells says:

    I have a Doubting Demon that constantly sits on my shoulder – he (always a he) sounds a bit like Harry Enfield’s dad character, you know “oh you don’t want to write it like that…” Thanks for the tips on WW – I hope to get a breakthrough after attending the workshop in June cos so far every single story I’ve sent them has trundled back to me (without comment). But will have a look at my 1800 worders to see if anything fits the bill. Cheers Helen 🙂

    • Good luck with WW, Tracy. If it’s any consolation, it took me a long time to get a ‘hit’ with them (and my mum kept saying ‘Oh, I’d give up with them, I don’t know why you bother…’ .. hmm, thinking about it, perhaps my mum is my Gremlin!! If I’d taken any notice of her, I’d never had done anything! But I thinks it’s only because she was affronted on my behalf…!

      • Wendy Clarke says:

        I’m glad WW are asking for 2000 worders again as the ones they bought were that length – I was stumped when they wanted 1000 words (am not good at short and sharp stories).

  8. Linda says:

    My gremlin is running away with the dialogue and realising there is absolutely no description!

  9. P Douglas Hammond says:

    Gremlins? I have two: my wife and my daughter.
    My wife has only read two pieces of my work – one very early (and unfinished) piece, and another that I didn’t intend her to read. She said that the first piece was rubbish, and for the second, “The bloke (the main character) should have died!”

    My daughter will never read anything I ask her to read. If she does read something, she will either point out every spellink mistake, or hide the fact that she has read it.

    My solution is to pass on everything to my son; He is good with the highlight pen, honest with feedback and is great to bounce ideas off.

  10. I used to feel my mother tutting over my shoulder when I was writing ‘naughty’ bits in my novel. I overcame it by writing under another name, and imagining I was taller, thinner and more gorgeous. I had Joan Collins for a Mum and Harrison Ford for a Dad and neither tutted at all.

  11. Linda says:

    My writing gremlin is the Compulsive Editor who whispers, ‘Why don’t you change that, rewrite this, cross it all out and start again?’ If she had her way I’d never finish a piece of writing – it would remain a ‘work in progress’ for ever. The only way to deal with her is to keep reminding myself that there’s no such thing as completely perfect writing, and to write The End quickly when she’s not looking.

  12. I have gremlins, I don’t have much confidence in my stuff at all. But, I ignore them, even though sometimes they’re louder than my 3yr old running around screaming – sometimes I enjoy arguing back at them because of the looks I get from my family… uh oh, psycho alert kind of looks. They understand fortunately, I write and I let other people judge me, I don’t listen to myself – it’s the worse thing I can do. It’s the worse thing anyone can do!

  13. Steph Barnes says:

    Hiya Helen, I have got to the point I have named my gremlin Jeff. He always appears out of nowhere, especially on days when I’m having a “good writing day” and I end up having to abandon my book for the rest of the day. I find talking about my book to my family scares away my gremlin, as they encourage me to keep going and give their thoughts on my ideas. Honestly I am happy to have my gremlin Jeff sitting on my shoulder, it makes me question my story and keeps me motivated to do whatever I can to make it better.

  14. Philippa says:

    My gremlin sits on my shoulder but doesn’t really say much – just laughs sardonically at each new sentence and radiates disbelief at my arrogance in thinking I could actually write anything even vaguely acceptable … I find the best way of dealing with it is not to engage but carry on regardless, and happily the more sentences I get down on paper, the weaker the gremlin’s presence becomes; if I don’t feed it by buying into the negativity, it just fades away. Ha!

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