Writers Advice on Writing for magazines

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Writers Advice on Writing for magazines

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Review of "Writers Advice on Writing for magazines"

published 30/08/2004 | thingywhatsit
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 633
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About me :
Pro Gives you independance and satisfaction.
Cons You do get rejections.
very helpful


I was unaware that this item was tucked away in the Ciao cafe, and when I found it, I thought that I would share with readers a very important part of my life and how I make my living because all of the downfalls I have made in getting successful may help some would-be writer to become a published writer.

Of course, work for magazines can include all kinds of things, though for me, my speciality is fiction, so for this review, I will stick with what I know although some of the rules apply to non fiction items as well.


I hear time and time again about people that want to become writers, people that have a book stored away in their brains that somehow never get into print. I believe that the reason is that writing a book is at art and it's a little like trying to undertake a huge mural when you have only ever painted little tiny pictures. Of course, the task would be too tedious, too long, and people fail frequently in writing books because their experience is too limited. They give up, start up another book, although never get to that illusive goal.

I saw the pitfalls of writing a book many years ago and decided that writing fiction of any kind would help my experience and it has. The stories that I sell are anywhere between 1000-5000 word stories aimed at particular magazines and I believe that anyone with a little imagination and a good grasp of language can do it !!

There is a vast market for short stories in the U.K. and Editors that want to see "new blood" and fresh ideas, so that anyone who thinks they are capable of writing has the opportunity to do so.


As with all things, the starting point is important. It is like taking a highway and not knowing the direction in which you want to travel if you do not have a starting point. For me, the starting point is understanding which market I am aiming for.

This is simple. Buy magazines. Read them. Decide which magazine suits your style as you begin the journey into writing for magazines. You are new to the business, and thus a little homework on your part is essential. Magazines will not change their style to suit your writing, believe me, or at least will not consider it until you are an established name, so you need to decide which magazine fits the style you think you want to write.


First stop is to write to the Fiction Editor of chosen magazines and ask them their requirements, establish if they are looking for new fiction items and ask them for their guidelines. This saves a great deal of time in the long run because most magazines have printed guidelines about what they will and will not accept. Here, they are individual foibles sometimes devised by a team of people, although very much controlled by the Fiction Editor.

The guidelines outline which kind of stories are not acceptable, i.e. some magazines will not print stories that involve crime, religion, police, twins, etc., because perhaps they have an aversion to anything considered contraversial.

In all correspondence with Editors, remember that these are busy people who will probably have millions of submissions to consider and many disgruntled rejected writers letters to reply to. Be polite always, and never question a rejection because your work was rejected for a reason. It does not make your work invalid. It may mean that too many people thought on the same theme, or that your story did not fit very well with the style of the magazine.


Having already established the market you are aiming at by doing your homework on magazines and reading submissions that they accept, now comes the fun part.

For me, there are rules which have worked very well, although writers form their own stance when they are experienced. My rules are really good ones for beginners and are proven. A huge part of writing for me is the thought behind the words. A story has to be invented, has to work, the characters have to be believeable and real before I set pen to paper, and I need to know the beginning, middle and end.

The beginning is what pulls readers into your story. If it is weak, readers lose interest and bear in mind here that Fiction Editors interest in your story is just like any other reader. It has to tempt and tantalise and want the reader to go further.

The middle. Padding out a story to get enough words is really not good enough. My philosophy on writing is that I need to add texture and feeling to a story and thus the middle is not just padding out the story with words. If you already know your characters, you would know how they would react in given cirumstances, how they would feel, and how they all interweave to make the picture complete, and the middle of the story is as important as any other part.

Let me try and demonstrate. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle. It is flat and all the pieces are about the same colour. It's hard work to make the puzzle. Then add colour, i.e. description, and the puzzle becomes more interesting. Words can be very powerful and the written language wonderfully colourful, making all the pieces easy to put in place.

The End. For my stories, I tend to write the last line first because I write stories with a twist in the tail and here, the punchline at the end of the story is important. It must leave the reader startled, amazed, thinking and wanting to read another.


A polite letter is essential addressed to the magazine's Fiction Editor, introducing yourself and attaching your story, with double spaced text and having large margins on both sides. This is for ease of use by the magazine staff and is important. Pages should each be numbered.

Many Editors do not insist upon it, although I persist because it is politeness and I am more likely to get a response. Enclose a stamped addressed envelope for the reply. This is good form and will be well received.


Each rejection is a learning curve. Never ask why your story was rejected, just accept that it was. You are trying to write for a given market, and there may be many reasons why your work was rejected other than it being bad. Timing is essential. Magazines tend to take stories three months in advance of publication, i.e. if it is December and you write about Christmas it is very unlikely that your submission will be accepted. Accept rejection as part of the package.


I keep one copy of each of my stories because I need to know which magazine has rejected or accepted each story. What you are actually selling is First British Copyright. The story belongs to you, although here I would suggest that selling the same story to various magazines is a little impolite in that each magazine wants to be individual and different. Imagine the disappointment of an editor to find that competing magazines have the same story.


I use the Writers and Artists Yearbook as my Bible for writing. There are current listings of all the major magazines and the kind of articles that those magazines seek, both fiction and non fiction. This book is essential to any writer that wants to make progress.


Payment is usually made on the week of publication and magazines in the U.K. are very good at letting a writer know which week their work will appear and will send you a copy if you request it.

Usually the payment rate for short stories and articles of 1000 words is around the £125 mark, although if you are a new writer, expect a little less until you have established a rapport with the magazine.


Until you try, you cannot know how good you are or how well your submissions will be accepted by Editors. Write to suit a magazine. Do not expect them to change their style to suit you, and remember to make your story interesting, colourful and complete.


I write for magazines in the United States, Australia, Great Britain and France.

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Comments on this review

  • CGholy published 22/10/2017
  • nubbler published 08/02/2007
    Just found and enjoyed this, an update would be nice if you ever have time, cheers nubbler.
  • jpegington published 09/09/2005
    Good Review and interesting. Appreciate you taking the time in sharing these details. Thanks.
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Listed on Ciao since: 22/08/2001