How To Write Short Stories For Magazines
Identifying Your Market
So you want to write short stories for magazines. Fine. But what kind of short stories? And what kind of magazines?
Many would-be short-story writers fail to achieve their ambition of getting published because they don’t carry out some simple research. They presume that all short stories are the same because of their length which is . . . short!
Or they make the mistake of assuming that one woman’s magazine is very like another with, of course, the odd difference here and there.
As a matter of interest, I wonder if you’ve checked in a newsagent’s recently to see which magazines still run short stories nowadays? Sadly, some magazines have cut their fiction page. Luckily, the good news is that others are expanding them and also running monthly fiction specials with plenty of scope for good writing.
There are also other magazines which you might not have thought of or indeed known about, which also run short stories. I’ll be giving you details about those later in the chapter.
FIRST STEP - GET AN IDEAS BOOK!
The first thing I teach my students is to buy themselves an ‘Ideas Book’. By this, I don’t mean a spiral notebook like a reporter’s pad. I mean a large, brightly coloured book which you won’t lose. At the same time, buy yourself a pretty, coloured, small notebook for your handbag.
Use these to write down all your ideas for short stories so you won’t forget them. Ideas can come at the most inconvenient times, can’t they? When you’re having a bath or driving or about to drift off to sleep.
You will probably think (as I used to) that your idea is so good that you won’t forget it. But ideas are like cobwebs. They often float off, out of reach and it ’s so hard to remember them again.
So the golden rule is to write them down as soon as they occur to you. In your Ideas Book naturally.
There’s more of this in the next chapter on Ideas. But it ’s so important, I wanted you to be aware of this right from the beginning.
STUDYING THE MAGAZINE MARKET
Getting a short story published is not easy. But you can maximise your chances by doing as much research as possible into the magazines which still publish fiction.
The first step is to buy as many magazines as you can or see if you can get them at the local library. Take time to have a good read. You’ll be extremely surprised at how many different styles there are.
Some magazines have different kinds of stories within one issue. You might find that the same edition will have a serial with a feelgood tone to it and also a single-page short story with a twist in the tale at the end. There might also be a DPS (which means double page spread) story as well.
It’s only by studying these magazines that you can get a feel for what kind of story you want to write and which publication you’d like to try your hand at. You also need to look at the magazines over a period of some weeks to get a proper flavour of their style, content and tone.
TARGETING SPECIFIC READERS
This is crucial if you’re going to maximise your chances of success. A story which centres around a retired couple might not appeal to a magazine aimed at a younger readership.
On the other hand, it could work for another magazine like Yours or The People’s Friend which has a wide age range of readers.
If your story has a risque´ theme, it might not go down so well with a traditional magazine. Similarly, a conventional setting might not inspire a magazine aimed at twenty somethings.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your story is so good that a fiction editor might bend the rules. It doesn’t work that way! A fiction editor will be very aware of what works for his or her magazine and is looking for a story that fits into these guidelines.
HOW TO TELL WHAT A MAGAZINE WANTS
I’ve already advised you to study each magazine carefully. But don’t merely turn to the fiction page. Take a good look at the rest of the publication too.
What kind of features does it run? What are they about? What kind of age range do you think they’ll appeal to? Is it for homelovers or working mums or both? Is it for grandparents or young couples?
It stands to reason that the fiction page has to fit in with the rest of the magazine so take your cue from the content.
Similarly, go through the adverts. Adverts can tell you a lot about the readership. Companies pay a lot of money for ads so they’ll have made sure that these fit the readership profile. So if you are trying to place a story about a young couple, it might not suit a magazine with several ads for stair lifts!
OBTAINING MAGAZINE GUIDELINES
If you’re already feeling confused, don’t be! To make life easier, most magazines have their own set of fiction guidelines which you can either download from the internet or request by post.
These will tell you what kind of stories the fiction editor is looking for – and what he or she isn’t looking for.
Of course, the requirements can change from month to month and these might not always be updated. But it does give you a general idea.
At the end of this chapter, I’ve reproduced some guidelines from well-known magazines on the market. It’s important to read these well and see how it might affect your writing. You might have to have a re-think! For example, you will see that stories where the characters solve their problems by winning the lottery, usually get rejected.
Similarly, fiction editors aren’t normally impressed if the character wakes up and finds it was all a dream. And beware of writing an ending where the character is actually a dog or rabbit – another favourite.
Always make sure that your short story fits the required length. Over or underwriting is one of the most common reasons for stories being rejected. Fiction editors don’t always have time to cut. Besides, if they’ve asked for 1,000 words, that’s what they want – no matter how good you think your story is.
Of course it’s hard to cut your work. We all hate doing it. But the funny thing is that once you start, you often end up with a story which is so much better because it ’s more concise and flows more smoothly. Try it and see!
Below are some guidelines on lengths for different magazines. You’ll see that certain publications like Best, just run one page stories of between 1,000 and 1,200 words. Others like The People’s Friend might run to over 2,000 words.
Make a list of ideas for a possible short story.
Now take four magazines. Look through the features, letters page, advertisements and everything else inside. What kind of reader is it aimed at, in your view? Make a list of characteristics such as age, interests, sex, family, etc.
Would your ideas suit any of those magazines? Make a list of ideas and magazines which might match. Write these down in your Ideas Book.
EXAMPLES OF MAGAZINE GUIDELINES
Please note that these were correct at the time of going to press
My Weekly’s New Fiction guidelines
All manuscripts must be typewritten, double spaced with accurate wordage supplied. You can send them your work by e-mail to [email protected] or by post to The Fiction Editor, My Weekly, D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.
For your manuscript to be read and considered, it ’s imperative you mark prominently on your envelope or e-mail into which category your story falls. If you don’t do this, your work can’t be considered.
What are the required categories?
You’ll find My Weekly’s present requirements below; not only the types but the lengths and the TV or films that could inspire your ideas.
Will the categories remain the same?
No, they will change as stocks fill up in some areas and deplete in others. Therefore, if you have an idea that doesn’t suit My Weekly’s present requirements, don’t despair. It may do so in the future. However, please be guided by the wordage mentioned
How will I know when the categories have changed?
That’s simple, you can phone (01382 575546) to check for any changes, or request the latest guidelines by post (please enclose an SAE) or by e-mail, or access My Weekly’s website.
Well, here are the details you’re anxiously waiting for, so get your thinking caps on and good luck!
Do’s and dont’s
- Display clear intent.
- Be uplifting, have a message of hope.
- Offer different points of view.
- Have strong central characters.
- Be evocative and atmospheric, use light and shade.
- Use natural, modern dialogue.
- Portray relationships realistically.
- Introduce humour where appropriate.
- Try to move the reader.
- Uphold family values.
- Check all facts are accurate.
- Set stories in other countries.
- Use black humour.
- Describe graphic violence.
- Construct stand-up humour.
- Rely on continuous one-liners.
- Include overt sexuality or smuttiness.
- Rely on formulaic predictability.
- Construct contrived storylines.
- Overlook punctuation/spelling and grammar.
- Use unrealistic dialogue/thoughts for a specific age groups.
- Portray one-dimensional characters.
- Use cliche´d situations and dialogue.
- Neglect continuity.
Short read: 800 words or less
- A moment in time.
- Misleading narrator.
- Character studies monologues.
- Unusual, offbeat subject.
- Conversation – all dialogue.
Alan Bennett, Radio 4 play, P. G. Wodehouse, Victoria Wood monologues, Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, The Twilight Zone (new version), ‘Talking Heads’ series.
Medium read: 1,300 or 2,000 words
- Could be one concept explored.
- Sting in the tail/surprise ending.
- Must be a satisfying read.
- Beyond the ‘aww’ factor.
- Any strong theme.
- Emotional content.
TV: Life Begins, Cold Feet, William and Mary, Heart of Africa/ Springwatch for nature themes. Heroic/courageous women: Odette, Marie Curie, Elizabeth Fry, Edith Cavell.
Long read: 2,800 words only: regular but not weekly
- Emotionally engaging.
- Light and shade.
- Strong continuous plot.
- Interwoven plot lines.
- Complex relationships.
- Recognisable people in recognisable situations.
- Balance of surprise vs expectations.
Films: Pay It Forward, Memoirs of a Geisha, Something’s Gotta Give, It’s A Wonderful Life, Dr Zhivago, Gone With The Wind. Novel: Anne of Green Gables.
Type of stories needed
Crime (medium read)
- From detective point of view.
- Victim fights back.
- Hustle/corporate con.
TV: New Tricks, Morse, Murder She Wrote, Whodunnit, Bergerac, Lovejoy, Cracker. Grittier – CSI Cold Case.
Sting in the tale (1,500 words only)
- ‘Clues’ must not be misleading.
- Positive, pleasant outcome.
- Characters well rounded, need not always be likeable.
- Revenge (must not be vindictive).
- Misleading narrator.
- A nice surprise instead of a ‘con’.
Films: Sixth Sense, The Others, The Village, The Usual Suspects. TV: Hustle, Mobile, Fallen Angels, Tales of the Unexpected.
Comedy/humour (short/medium/long read)
- Can be any length, as long as the theme warrants it.
- Concentrate on fun.
- Not cruel or at the expense of another character.
- Offbeat subjects.
- Unusual situations.
- Tongue-in-cheek can be fun.
TV: Two Fat Ladies, Hairy Bikers, Cheers, Friends, My Family (sitcom), Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal, The Good Life.
Romance (short/medium/long read)
- Believable characters.
- Unusual themes/situations.
- Try not to be too predictable.
- Doesn’t have to have a standard happy ending.
- Must still be hopeful.
- Light and shade work well.
- Try not to ring the changes with themes.
- Convincing emotions.
- Engaging dialogue.
Films: Truly Madly Deeply, Love Story, Benny and Joon, When Harry Met Sally, Notting Hill, Chocolat, Ghost. Nicholas Sparks novels.
Nostalgic (short/medium/long read)
- From the 1950s up to present date.
- No First or Second World Wars.
- Can be set in a specific period.
- Flashback from present.
- Works well with music references of the period as a soundtrack for the story.
- Can be built around historical events.
TV: Fame, The Liver Birds, The Good Life, Golden Girls, The Royal, The Darling Buds of May, UKTV Gold! Film: Grease.
Historical (medium/long read)
- From the Second World War backwards (excluding the First World War).
- Themes must be generated from strictures of the time.
- Must be factually authentic and accurate. - Need an accurate timeline.
- Less well-known eras/settings can work well.
- Must have positive message for present day.
- Can be set around historical event for figures.
- Atmosphere counts – accurate description adds to authenticity.
TV/novels: Cadfeal, I Claudius, Sharpe, Upstairs Downstairs. Films: Shakespeare In Love, Gosford Park.
Animal stories (short/medium/long read)
- Real relationship between human and animal.
TV: Spring Watch, Meerkat Manor, Heart of Africa, any David Attenborough series. Novel: Wolf Brother.
Supernatural/sci fi/fantasy (short/medium/long read)
- Some suggestion of rational explanation.
- Not twee or laughable.
- Not gory or too shocking.
Films: Ghost, Sixth Sense. TV: Battlestar Galactica, Life on Mars, Dr Who, Babylon 5, X-Files.
Emotional (medium/long read)
- Family issues.
- General relationships.
- Life-changing events.
TV: Brother and Sisters, Casualty, Holby City, ER, Where The Heart Is.
Best magazines guidelines
Every month, Best is sent hundreds of stories to consider for publication. To save your time and theirs, please don’t send them yours unless it meets all of the following criteria. If you do send one, address it to the Fiction Editor, at Best magazine, 33 Broadwick Street, London, W1F 0DQ, and print your name and address on the MS (manuscript) (not just in the covering letter, which may become detached). Posted MSS must be sent with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for their return. Keep a copy, as Best cannot accept responsibility for the loss of unsolicited manuscripts. You can submit your story by e-mail, to [email protected] – but they will need your postal address, so you can assign rights and they can pay you, if they decide to buy your story, so do include it.
- Your story must be original and not under consideration elsewhere.
- It should be no less than 900 and no more than 1,200 words long, and typewritten. Please do not send a disk or tape – these will be returned unread – or fax your story. Best does not require a synopsis or outline first, or have time to read these. And they don’t publish serials or poetry.
- Your plot must be strong and convincing, its situations modern, relevant and believable. Best are happy to have sex feature in a story, as long as it’s not too explicit. Characters must be believable, too, and people with whom readers can identify. (Please familiarise yourself with the magazine.) In almost all stories we print, the main character is a woman.
- Your approach should be young, fresh and lively. Best loves humour and welcome original twists and angles. The outcome of your story must leave the reader feeling satisfied. Best does not want to read that it was all a dream! They also do not want stories about the lottery, dating agencies, fortune-tellers or murdering a spouse. They don’t want mystery characters who turn out to be twin brothers or sisters, or first-person stories ‘written’ by dogs or cats!
- Don’t be afraid to be different, to step outside a rigid storytelling format, to jump – in time, space, plot or pace – rather than spelling everything out, as this stretches the reader’s imagination. A good story is original, and will interest, involve, intrigue, surprise.
- Best works a minimum of two months in advance and, as MSS are not read immediately on arrival, seasonal stories need to be sent at least three and ideally four months ahead. Please note that MS turnaround time can be two to three months, and occasionally longer.
The People’s Friend guidelines
Before you start . . . please study the market. This is vitally important, because the ‘Friend’ has a very distinctive, individual approach to both fiction and features.
First, a bit about the most important people – the readers. Without them there would be no magazine!
They range in age from about thirty to well over eighty. They like being entertained – and dislike being depressed. They like realistic material, but not so realistic – with sex, violence, drugs, drink, etc – that they are frightened or saddened. They still believe in the sanctity of marriage and the importance of the family. Our readers like people – ordinary people, with problems they can sympathise with, and in situations they can relate to. They’re optimistic – they like to see something good coming out of a situation, or the redeeming side of a character. They’re practical women – and men – with ordinary interests and hobbies. They’re always willing to give a neighbour a helping hand and enjoy being with a group of friends.
Yes – they are traditionalist. And proud of it! So they like to see their values reflected in their ‘Friend’. Many say that’s exactly how they regard the magazine – as a friend.
So please, read The People’s Friend for several weeks. Then, try to work out how the authors have achieved what the publisher wants.
But don’t just write a carbon copy of something already published. Try to be original.
These vary in length – between 1,000 and 4,000 words usually. Deeper, more emotional, stories tend to need more space than lighter ones. The Friend also accepts short, short stories, from 500 to 1,000 words, for occasional complete-on-a-page fiction.
Friend readers like reading about people of any age. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking they only use stories about grans and grandads, widows and widowers. Stories with older characters are, obviously, important but their readers also enjoy those with up-to-date, young, romantic themes. There’s always a place for the lighthearted and humorous, too.
This isn’t to say they avoid ‘modern’ themes like divorce or single parent families, but these must be treated sympathetically and tactfully.
They would rarely show divorce happening ‘on stage’ in a short story – or a serial. Separation that ends in reunion would be something their readers would approve wholeheartedly!
The Friend is always looking for good Christmas stories (as well as other seasonal material) but beware the well-worn themes! Again the message is – be original and try to reflect the real spirit of Christmas.
So what don’t the readers enjoy?
Well, they’ve made it clear they don’t want to read depressing, or bitter, stories. Or stories that shock or disgust or upset because of their graphic content – be it sex, violence or substance abuse.
And avoid the story with a ‘twist in the tale’ that misleads or cheats. Any twist has to be credible – and emotional.
Readers like to have a chuckle, or a lump in the throat, at the end of a story . . . or even both! But remember, they prefer to laugh with people rather than at them.
And they like to know how a character feels, as well as what he, or she, is doing. Write from the heart as well as the head – so that the emotion of the situation comes across strongly.
And the ending has to be satisfying.
The Friend rarely uses stories from the viewpoint of animals or inanimate objects. Historical short stories are difficult – it ’s not easy to be convincing in under 4,000 words. And anything with a supernatural theme tends to get the thumbs down from their very responsive readers.
In the author’s byline The Friend frequently describes their stories as tender . . . touching . . .moving . . . amusing . . . charming . . . All words with positive feelings behind them.
Your raw material is people. Readers want to identify with your characters, believe in them, their problems and the situations. If they can’t get close to a character, or that character does or says something unconvincing, they’ll lose interest. Your job is to keep the reader reading.
The Friend strongly suggests you try writing short stories before you attempt their other formats.
These are normally worked on from the early stages by the author and at least one member of staff. The storyline is carefully worked out by phone, letter, or by a face-to-face conference. Only when agreement is reached does the story proceed.
All Friend serials have a strong emotional situation as their central theme, usually family based. There can be other loosely connected storylines involving family members, relatives, friends . . . So it ’s quite in order to change viewpoints. It’s even possible to do this in a first-person story – with a bit of ingenuity!
The Friend avoids subjects that are controversial, or which would be beyond the average reader’s comprehension. They don’t want to teach, or preach, or clamber on bandwagons. They don’t want unusual, outrageous or offensive characters. This doesn’t mean that characters have to be bland. Far from it. They must appeal to the reader’s imagination and stir their emotions.
Your story can be set in the present day or it can be historical – without going too far back into the dim and distant past!
Writing a serial isn’t like writing a novel. You have to enthral the reader in such a way that she – or he – is looking forward eagerly to next week’s instalment. You don’t have the luxury of writing long, beautifully crafted narrative or descriptive passages.
Serials run from ten to fifteen instalments on average, though The Friend will use shorter, or longer, stories from time to time.
The opening instalment is usually quite long – 6,000 or 7,000 words. You should aim to set the scene, introduce your characters and explain their problems.
Your opening page must catch and hold the reader’s interest right away. Some problem, some crisis, should be coming to a head; some endeavour, some venture about to be undertaken . . .
Succeeding instalments are shorter, around 5,000 words.
Each instalment is made up of three or four chapters. (Get the idea of differentiating between a chapter and an instalment.)
Each chapter should deal with a particular aspect, or incident, or scene in the story, moving it forward at a good pace. Although there will naturally be some overlap, each chapter should be more or less complete, ending on a high point to encourage the reader to go on.
Don’t jump around in short, quick, disjointed scenes. Give yourself a chance to develop your characters and their relationships.
Your final chapter to the instalment should have a more powerful curtain, so the reader is impatient to know what will happen next.
How your characters react – in their different ways – to the problems and situations you put them in, is what makes your Friend story. Your storyline – plot, if you like – is important, of course, but the reader will remember a good character long after she’s forgotten other details.
Effective use of dialogue will not only build up your characters in the reader’s mind, it can also provide background information.
Don’t write long passages explaining what makes your character tick, or what’s gone before. The reader should ‘sense’ their personality through what they say and how they react to challenging situations. Let the characters speak for themselves, so the reader can get involved and identify with them.
Study the popular soaps on TV. See how their writers use dialogue.
The People’s Friend very rarely buys a complete serial in manuscript form. Don’t even try a first instalment on your own!
Send them your idea, with perhaps just a few pages of the story, and give them a detailed synopsis of how the story develops . . .and they’ll get back to you.
These might be considered a sort of hybrid, a cross between a short story and a serial. They are usually based on a strong, central character in an interesting situation. Each week’s story is complete in itself and, in subsequent weeks, new characters and their problems are introduced.
But each story has a common setting and our central character is always there, playing a pivotal role.
These are traditional stories for children of nursery and primary age. Think of a bedtime story . . . nothing frightening, or disturbing, please. Humour is always welcome, and we’ll also consider stories in verse. Length? Somewhere between 500 and 700 words.
Friend readers always enjoy ‘visiting’ places up and down the country. These range from short, first-person experiences with a couple of pictures, to extensive photofeatures about a whole area, attraction or event. If you feel you want to try photofeatures, please contact The Friend first to discuss it. And, remember, there will be keen competition from established photographers and writers. The Friend’s standards are very high.
These are usually about 1,000 words long. They’re looking for bright, lively articles, full of human interest, on a broad range of topics. Animals . . . holidays . . . childhood . . . they should all have a strong personal involvement.
Short lyric verse should rhyme and scan as naturally as possible. It must be easy to read so the meaning, or message, is clearly understood. Descriptive and ‘mood’ poetry is always popular.
Submitting a manuscript to The People’s Friend
10 golden rules
- The Friend is always happy to consider unsolicited manuscripts, but once you’ve completed your story, try to read it objectively – they know it won’t be easy, because you’re so close to it and you’ve obviously put a lot of effort into it. But do try, and ask yourself – ‘Is this really a Friend story?’ And answer honestly, now! If the answer is a definite No, please don’t send it in. But if you feel it’s along the right lines, by all means let them see it. They are there to help and advise you.
- Your manuscripts should be typed – on one side of the paper only. Use double line spacing and leave a generous left-hand margin.
- You should also have a flysheet, showing the title and author’s name (or pen-name if you prefer). Please make sure your own name and address also appear on the page.
- Number the pages of your story – or serial instalment.
- Staple or clip your manuscript once. And preferably use an A4 size envelope so that you don’t have to fold the typescript over. Anything you can do to make your work easy to read will be much appreciated by their hard-working staff.
- Address your short stories to the Fiction Editor at the address below. Children’s stories should be sent to the Children’s Page Editor and poetry to the Poetry Editor and so on.
- Seasonal stories or articles should be submitted fully three months in advance.
- Remember to enclose a suitable stamped, addressed envelope. Or if you live abroad, send an International Reply Coupon.
- Please don’t swamp The Friend with manuscripts! They very often find that a collection of stories all have the same basic flaw. So, if you’ve been enthusiastically writing, pick the best one – or two – to send in to test the water. It’ll save your postage –and they’ll let you know if they want to see more of your work.
- Be prepared to wait a few weeks for a reply. Our selection process can take some time.
Payment is on acceptance. You won’t have to wait for publication.
Woman's Weekly guidelines
Woman’s Weekly has always been well known for its short stories and serials, and fiction remains one of the most popular aspects of the magazine. Their readers talk about ‘relaxing’ with their short stories and serials, ‘switching off’ or ‘taking a break’ from the daily routine. However, Woman’s Weekly are no longer looking for predictable boy-meets-girl romances or nostalgic looks at the past. Romance and nostalgia can be important parts of a story, but there should be other elements, too.
They want their stories to portray up-to-date characters in believable, modern situations. They welcome stories on a wide range of themes and moods, for instance, warm stories about children, teenagers and family problems of various kinds; love stories, funny stories and even stories with a crime or thriller element, so long as they are not violent, threatening or too incredible. In other words, fiction that grips the readers rather than sending them to sleep!
One of the main reasons for rejecting stories is that they can tell from the word go what their outcome will be. Unless there’s an element of tension or uncertainty, readers won’t bother to finish a story. And unless they can believe in the characters, they won’t get involved in the first place. The best way to achieve this involvement is to be subtle in your writing. ‘Show don’t tell ’ is a useful maxim to bear in mind. And don’t give away too much too soon. Tempt your reader on with more and more clues about a situation or character as the plot unfolds. Whatever you do, please don’t tell Woman’s Weekly the plot of your story in your covering letter! A surprise ending should be just that!
Although they are far more flexible these days, there are still several ‘don’ts’ to bear in mind: whilst they welcome stories that reflect real life, they shouldn’t contain explicit sex or violence. They will consider ghost stories but they mustn’t be too frightening or horrific.
Short story lengths
Short stories in Woman’s Weekly are usually either one page or two pages in length. For you, the writer, this means either 1,000 or 2,000 words long.
The bi-monthly Fiction Special accepts stories of between 1,000 and 5,000 words.
Serials should have all the compelling qualities of short stories plus strong characterisation and a well-researched background – and must also have riveting cliffhangers to keep the reader going back to the newsagent week after week. There should be a central ‘hook’ to hang the action on: an emotional or practical dilemma which the central character has to face. A strong subplot is essential. Historicals are just as welcome as contemporary serials.
Serials can be between two and five parts. The opening instalment is 4,000 words, and each subsequent instalment is 3,500 words. You may submit the whole of your manuscript, or just the first part with a brief synopsis. A synopsis alone cannot be considered; Woman’s Weekly needs to be able to assess your style, too.
Unfortunately Woman’s Weekly cannot offer criticism, but if your short story or serial shows promise, they will contact you and suggest alterations.
It is most important that you read Woman’s Weekly on a regular basis over several weeks before you submit your short story or serial. This is the only sure way to get the feel of our fiction.
- Woman’s Weekly read only typescripts – handwritten work cannot be considered.
- Preferred layout: double line spacing on one side of the paper only.
- Wide margins.
- Please number each page and make sure your name is at the top of each page.
- A stamped addressed envelope must be enclosed for the return of the manuscript if they are unable to use it. Remember, when sending in stories from abroad, please enclose an international reply coupon.
- If you would like an acknowledgement receipt of your manuscript, please enclose a stamped, addressed postcard.
- Please note that it can take up to sixteen weeks for manuscripts to be considered, and that Woman’s Weekly are unable to enter into any correspondence by e-mail.
- Please send stories/serials to the following address: Gaynor Davies, Fiction Editor, Woman’s Weekly, IPC Media, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU.
Candis - short story guidelines
Debbie Attewell, Fiction Editor at Candis, says ‘I personally read every short story submitted to Candis. Each month, three from the shortlist are sent out to that issue’s reader panellists for their comments and I’ll have the deciding vote if necessary. This ensures that the best story with the widest appeal is selected each month. The downside to this is that it can often be quite a long time between when you submit your fiction for consideration and when you hear whether you’ve been successful or not.’ The following are Candis’s guidelines for submitting stories.
- Word count: 2000 +/– 10% (they will not read anything longer or vastly shorter than this).
- Who you’re writing for: women aged 30–58 and their husbands/ partners.
- What Candis are looking for: clever, keep ’em guessing story lines; twist in the tale/tales of the unexpected style writing. Stories of modern love, romance, friendship, family life. Short, tightly written whodunits. Warm likeable central characters.
- What Candis are not looking for: romantic stories with predictable endings; anything gory, detailed violence or graphic sexual descriptions.
- Short stories to be sent in the first instance by e-mail to: [email protected]
- Fee: £500 payable on written acceptance.