Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Short Stories for the Womag markets

One lunch time about a month ago my publicist rang me up: Woman's Own were urgently looking for a short story - could I provide one that day? I gaily said yes, despite not having one to hand. Say yes now, panic later, that's my motto. Luckily last year I'd been on a great course run by Joanna Barnden on how to write short stories for the women's magazine market aka womags.

Jo has had great success with this market herself and has worked out - well, I don't want to say formula as that sounds disparaging but essentially that's what it is, for writing womag short stories. It's quite straightforward and could apply to almost any form of writing: define the character's main problem and concentrate on how they solve it. With a novel the characters will have many problems to solve, some of which may never get resolved, but there is usually one central problem that has to be dealt with.

There's more to the day with Jo than just that as she takes you through all the elements that make up a successful short story. I'd half written one on the day, which she'd given me some feedback on which of course, I hadn't done anything about until my publicist called....but four hours later, armed with Jo's advice, I finished and sent off the story. You can see it in the current Woman's Own Summer Special - The Last Fairy on the Right. (It was supposed to be called The Last Pixie on the Right, but no pixie pix, they'd only got fairies hence the title change.)

So, many thanks to Jo. She's doing an Advanced Short Story course in Cornwall in August which I'm going to go on, but does others all round the country. I love going on writing courses but I wouldn't recommend many of the ones I've been on. I would this one; Jo's a good teacher, the course is well-organised and hey, I wrote a story and got it published!

Come to the launch party for Kissing Mr Wrong, 6.30pm on 20th May at Waterstones, Milsom Street, Bath. All welcome, but please ring 01225 448515 to let them have an idea of numbers.


Liz Fielding said...

Thanks for that. It made me think about what my heroine's problems are so that I can sort out the most urgent.

You did the same for me when I was at your workshop at the RNA Conference in Leicester. That book won me a RITA. Let's hope for a repeat!

Sarah Duncan said...

Gosh Liz, I now feel like I've told my grandmother to go suck some eggs! Thank you - and I'm speaking at the coming RNA conference too!