Tips On Writing For ‘Take A Break Fiction Feast’ (TABFF)

Winner 002Lots of you out there wanted to win the year’s subscription to Take A Break Fiction Feast.

In fact, I had 55 names to write on the list, so thank you for entering and for the lovely comments and congratulations on my ‘triple whammy’. You didn’t actually have to praise me to the skies in order to be a contender but I enjoyed it, nonetheless!

The winner of the draw was GAIL RICHARDS, who was number 20 on my list and that’s the number that the random number generator produced! I’ve already been in touch with Gail and her subscription is being ordered today.

A couple of you mentioned it might be nice if I followed up my giveaway with a few tips on writing for Fiction Feast. I’m not an expert, by any means, but I’ve got a few suggestions which might help.

But firstly, have a look at the tips and submission requirements for the magazine, on the Womagwriter blog. Although some are a couple of years old now, I think much of what is stated there, still stands, so there’s no point in me repeating it all.

The only change I have noticed, is that TABFF don’t have the headers above stories that they used to have (eg: ‘Spine Tingler’, ‘Heart Breaker’, ‘Tale with a Twist’, ‘Crime Time’) and I think that reflects the fact that their stories are so varied.

It’s quite tricky to say what they want, in terms of subject matter but your story must appeal to women and your writing must be ‘upbeat’.

So, even if you’re dealing with a sad subject – death, illness or betrayal, say – the reader mustn’t be left feeling depressed at the end! Remember, you are in the entertainment business if you’re writing for the women’s magazines – so make sure your stories are entertaining!

I will add just a few pointers of my own. Apologies if some of these are very obvious but sometimes it’s easy to overlook the obvious!

1. Read every issue of the magazine. Otherwise, how can you possibly know what kind of stories they publish? It’s no good guessing. ( shouldn’t you be supporting the magazine that you want to write for? It’s monthly, it costs £1.80, which is less than a coffee these days, so it’s not going to break the bank. If you’re not prepared to do that, are you really serious about wanting to write for the magazine?).

Sometimes it’s not that easy to track down TABFF, by the way (my village shop stocks it but the bigger shops in the nearest town don’t!), so you could save yourself a lot of hassle by subscribing to it (and no, I’m not on commission!).

2. Keep it contemporary. TABFF like modern stories about modern issues. I’ve never known them to publish a story set in the past (unless it’s a ghost story).

3. Use lots of dialogue. Try starting your story with someone speaking. That way, you can’t fail to get straight into the action.

4. Try to be original. TABFF take stories that other magazines won’t touch (I know from personal experience. A couple of mine that other magazines have described as ‘weird’ and ‘downright dangerous’, were later accepted by TAB). You can be a little more controversial, sexy, cheeky..whatever you want to call it. (but only a ‘little’, mind! No erotica, no gruesome murder scenes..).

5. It’s all about the IDEA. Someone once told me that you don’t have to be a great writer to write for the womags, but you have to have lots of ideas and I think that’s true. Of course, you need to write well (don’t think that anything but your best writing will do) BUT don’t worry too much about flowery language or perfect descriptions.

If you’ve got a natty, quirky, clever and ORIGINAL idea for a story, (which obviously must still be suitable for the magazine, in terms of subject matter), then you’re more than half way there. So keep your eyes and ears open, scour the papers for human interest stories that you could use and/or think about something funny or strange that’s happened to you.

Could you fictionalise it and turn it into a story for TABFF?

Good luck!

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12 Responses to Tips On Writing For ‘Take A Break Fiction Feast’ (TABFF)

  1. Catherine Robinson says:

    Many Congrats Helen!!
    By the way, were your ears burning at the weekend? A few of us went to see Wendy Cope at Warwick Words and we think you’d read her “bloody men” poem out at a writing class? Anyway, we were all thinking of you 🙂
    Catherine (and Janet and Helen and Alison!)

  2. Ah, the lovely Wendy Cope. I wanted to get along to that event but I just had too many other things going on! And yes, I think I did read that poem out to you in the class – glad that you remembered and that perhaps, in a tiny way, it contributed to your going to see her at the weekend!! Was she good?!

    • Catherine Robinson says:

      Yes it certainly did contribute to our going to see her – and it was great! She’s just as witty in person as she is on the page so it was a fun afternoon. Thanks for guiding us in her direction! 🙂

  3. ados123 says:

    Many congratulations on your sales to FF and thanks for sharing the writing tips. I’ve success with PF but not FF. Will try again!

  4. rosgemmell says:

    Many thanks for these tips, Helen – it all helps, although I completely agree about reading up to date copies of the magazine.

  5. Patsy says:

    Good tips.

    It always amazes me when writers say they don’t read the magazines they’re aiming for – or read copies that are years out of date.

  6. Will keep trying … thanks, Helen.

  7. Jan Baynham says:

    Thanks for the tips, Helen.

  8. juliathorley says:

    Thanks for these tips.Can you think of any other professions where folk are so keen to help out their ‘rivals’?!

  9. Ali says:

    Hi Wendy; thanks for your kind advice. I have seen your story in WW October issue and I love your style which is quite similar to one of my stories; which TAB my favour so will give it a go. I think WW is a very hard market to get right so well done to you. Never have much luck with WW myself!

  10. Dorinda Cass says:

    Hi Helen
    I have been trying for a while to get a story accepted by a woman’s magazine. I sent off two stories to TBFF last August – I’ve heard nothing, but they haven’t been returned either! (2 SAEs enclosed.) Can’t help wondering whether they ever arrived. How long is it before they send a response, usually, or do they not tell you that they don’t want the story?!

    • Dorinda
      Sorry to hear that, you must be fed up. Yes, they do and should reply, even if it’s a ‘no thank you’. In my experience, TABFF can take about 3 or 4 months to reply but you should still have heard by now. Silly question, but did you definitely send them to the right address? (Norah McGrath, Fiction Editor, Fiction Feast, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT). I would drop them a quick line – directly to Norah – giving the titles of the stories and when you sent them and I would hope she’ll get back to you pretty quickly. Let us know how you get on!

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