Posts Tagged Fiction Addiction
Much is written about crafting the novel synopsis and agent pitch but there’s far less on how to sell a short story to the women’s magazine market via a synopsis.
Writer, S. Bee has put together some good tips for those of us trying to make sales in this ever decreasing market. Here is her advice:
Six UK women’s magazines require a short synopsis – either with the story itself, or before the story is submitted.
- The regular, fortnightly Yours
- The Yours Fiction Special
- Take a Break’s Fiction Feast. (N.B. This has a closed writer’s list and takes all rights.)
- Spirit & Destiny. This magazine requires a story pitch upfront. If they like the sound of the story, they ask for it to be emailed for consideration. They also take all rights to accepted stories.
- My Weekly require a brief synopsis to head up the story. This magazine has a closed writer’s list.
- During the current lockdown, The People’s Friend is asking for writers who have previously been published by the magazine to email a synopsis. Writers new to the magazine should continue to submit by post.
Possible reasons editors ask for a short story synopsis:
- It allows the editor to quickly see what kind of story it is – sweet romance/comedy/crime/revenge, etc.
- It explains the plot, so the editor can decide whether or not the story will work for that magazine.
- It’s useful for the illustrator/picture editor – so consider including significant details about the age and appearance of characters or the location.
Below are six steps to getting the synopsis right:
- Keep to the word count. If the guidelines ask for 200 words, don’t ramble on. Don’t start with: ‘This is a story about…’ Provide a clear outline of the story from start, middle and end.
- Do I reveal the ending? There is some debate around this. Some writers do (I’m one of them) but some choose not to. It’s entirely up to you.
- Run it past a womag writer/ reader friend before submitting. Asking other womag writers to read your work before submitting is useful. I run a womag writers’ email critique group; we read each other’s work and give constructive feedback. Not only can others point out the flaws in the story, they might be able to spot the flaws in your synopsis too.
- Themes/ Genres There’s no need to include the theme or a genre in your synopsis. The word count matters, so don’t fill your lines with: ‘This is an empty nest/ moving on/ dealing with bereavement story.’
- Get to the point Imagine you are an aspiring scriptwriter who steps into a lift with a movie producer. You have an amazing opportunity to pitch your story – but only 30 seconds to do it. Cut the waffle and focus on the chain of events in your story: The main character has a problem/conflict. How do they overcome this problem? What complicates it? How is it solved?
- Get over the dread writing of them. It can seem like a synopsis cruelly chops our work down and removes the heart of the story. But without it, there’s no chance of a sale to the above magazines. The more synopses you write, the more confident you’ll become.
Women’s magazine writer, TW, has kindly provided me with an example synopsis:
Music manager Ross King is visited in his office by Beth and Sam, who are members of one of his most successful pop acts.
Beth and Sam are in their early twenties, slim, blonde and beautiful. They are very excited, as they have met a potential new member of the group, Penny. Ross has a shock when Penny enters the office, as although she is also slim, blonde and beautiful, she is over forty. Ross thinks the group’s young fans won’t accept an older woman as part of the group. He’s forced by politeness to watch Penny audition (sing and dance) and recognises that she is very talented. After some tough argument, Ross agrees that Penny can join the group.
The girls are so keen on her joining them that Ross suspects – rightly – that there is something they are not telling him about Penny, and at the end of the story the girls reveal what this is.
The above story was published in Take a Break’s Fiction Feast. Note that the twist ending wasn’t revealed in the synopsis.
Practice makes perfect. Writing a synopsis – whether it’s for a short story, a novel, article or a play – is a specific, highly valued skill. Give it a go and increase your chances of a story sale!
S. Bee is the brains behind the lively short story anthology Paws for Thought. It is available on Kindle and raises money for the RSPCA.
To find out more about S. Bee and her critique group, Fiction Addition, please visit her website.
Don’t forget there’s lots more information about writing fiction for women’s magazines at https://womagwriter.blogspot.com/
I told you about the online writing group, Fiction Addiction, sometime ago.
Over the last couple of years it’s turned into a useful support group for Womag writers. The founder, Sharon Boothroyd, has brought me up-to-date on its progress and I wanted to share with you what she had to say:
I set up Fiction Addiction in Feb 2011 because it was proving difficult for me to find honest opinions from other writers, and I couldn’t afford to pay for professional critiques all the time. My local writing group didn’t focus on short stories and on a recent creative writing course, the tutor didn’t know anything about the Womag market.
The idea behind my online writer’s circle is to ‘test’ your work on other Fiction Addiction members before subbing your work out to the magazines. We offer each other support, feedback, encouragement and motivation.
When I began Fiction Addiction in Feb 2011, I decided the first thing I needed to do was recruit members. Membership would be free.
I wrote an appeal and asked Kath if she would upload it on to her popular womagwriter’s blog. She did do, and Sally Jenkins very kindly featured me in her blog here in March 2011.
I was expecting one or two requests – but I was immensely pleased to be overwhelmed with people wanting to join! Some members were writers with lots of Womag sales, some were beginners and some were in-between. It’s still the same balance now, with 11 members.
My husband designed a website, and we put all the info there, including guidelines and a FAQ page. I wrote the website myself. To keep costs down, we decided to pick a free website.
As time passed, we’ve had a members leave and new members joining. Two years on, it is still lovely to read work and receive emails.
I do expect members to contribute, even if it’s once a month. Members can also drop out and join again.
We also look at competition entries and first chapters of novels.
Feedback has also been a problem for some. My advice is to be kind but honest, which I admit can be tricky! Of course, it’s entirely up to the writer what they do with feedback – they don’t have to use it.
We’ve had lots of successes when the writer has tweaked a story after receiving FA feedback, including me.
One of the first stories I sent round was an office girls story called The Game. After re-drafting, I sent it to PRIMA magazine earlier this year. It won their short story competition and was published in the May 2013 edition.
And very recently, (July 2013) a FA member has had a story accepted by Woman’s Weekly! She read our comments on her work and then adjusted her story before subbing.
We all feel very proud!
So if you fancy a little bit of support with your writing, contact Sharon via the Fiction Addiction website and become part of the group’s success story!
Update 24/4/2014 – Unfortunately ‘A Quick Read’ will be closing soon and therefore no more stories are required.
Sharon Boothroyd has been in touch to tell me about a short story app, A Quick Read, that she and her husband, Keith, are developing – and they need your stories. Here’s what Sharon had to say about it:
Would you like to see your stories published on an Android phone app?
My husband and I are launching a new project soon – a FREE short story app called A Quick Read.
The good news is, we’re not charging any writer to upload the stories on the app.
The bad news is, we cannot pay writers a fee, as we’re starting the project as a hobby. However, if we mange to secure funding, we will be able to pay you.
I’ll be sending out lots of press releases to raise publicity.
The categories for fiction are:
Twist in tale
The word count we require is 500 -1,000 words.
No swearing, no excessive violence, and no erotica, please.
Also, we require a brief outline (one or two lines) about your story.
Go to www.aquickread.net to view our website.
‘Terms and conditions for writers’ can be found under ‘Information’ on the drop down menu.
It would be best if you sent us unpublished work. All writers retain copyright.
You can also see how the app works on the website.
Please e-mail your stories to me, Sharon at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS If you have a website or blog address, we can place this at the bottom of your story on the app.
I’ve sent in a couple of my own stories that weren’t quite right for the womags and not long enough for most competitions.
So if you’ve got something short and sweet that you don’t want to leave gathering dust, why not give it a try?
Sharon also runs Fiction Addiction, an online writers’ circle for those interested in writing for women’s magazines. She writes under the name S. Bee and one of her stories is critiqued in Sue Moorcroft’s Fiction Workshop in this month’s Writers’ Forum magazine.
Fiction Addiction is an online writing circle for Womag (women’s magazine fiction) writers. It was founded in January 2011 by Sharon Boothroyd because she (like the rest of us!) was fed up of getting rejections but not knowing where she was going wrong.
Since Fiction Addiction was mentioned on womagwriter’s blog, Sharon has received loads of emails and the writing circle is growing.
The circle has no strict rules to follow. Members send their work out for feedback whenever they wish. All stories and feedback are sent on a ’round robin’ basis so that everyone can read everything and no-one is left out. However, if individual members want to then start corresponding separately then that is OK too. Most of the stories submitted so far have been under 2,000 words but Sharon thinks that 6,000 would be the absolute limit. Serials and My Weekly/People’s Friend pocket novels are also welcome and can be sent out for feedback chapter by chapter or part by part.
The members of Fiction Addiction are asked to abide by certain guidelines to ensure that criticism is given in a constructive away and that email addresses are kept confidential. There is no need to fear having a story ‘stolen’ by someone else in the group – the ’round robin’ method of communication means that everyone else will know where a particular story originated from.
Membership of the Fiction Addiction writers’ circle is free and Sharon runs it as a hobby not a money-making enterprise. Some members of the group have already been published professionally and others are just starting out but they are all feeling the benefit of being part of a group rather than floundering alone. Here are some of their comments:
“Thank you all for the warm welcomes I have received already! It really is an active group and I am so excited about being part of it.”
“I love sitting down with a coffee to read a good story and it’s also really interesting to read everyone’s comments.” “Congrats to you for setting this all up, I think its going to be a real bonus for everyone involved and it feels great to be a part of something.”
I write women’s magazine fiction and find the feedback that I get from Helen, my writing buddy, invaluable. So I would urge anyone who would like someone else to cast an eye over their work (and who is willing to do the same for other people) to have a look at the Fiction Addiction website for more details.