Advantages getting published, getting paid
Disadvantages those rejection slips
Several years ago, I was a freelance fiction writer and was published in many magazines, including Take a Break, TV Quick, Just 17, Annabel, My Weekly and others. I also won the SHE magazine/Penguin Books national short story award in 1996 and had published a short romance novel. I did not make a living at writing, but made decent lumps of money several times a year. Getting there was no easy ride, but I learnt an awful lot along the way which I hope will help ciao writing enthusiasts.Know your Audience
Study the magazine. What age of readers does it appeal to? What style and tone is taken in the magazine - is it homely, funny, contemporary, sexy? What kinds of issues do readers write to the problem page about? Importantly, study the style, content and length of other fiction in the magazine.If you're writing for a teen magazine, notice the kind of language that is used in other parts of the mag - it's no use talking about a 'really handsome boy' when the mag is full of descriptions of 'lush lads', 'fab totty' and 'bods to die for'. Equally, if the magazine, say My Weekly, is aimed at an audience with slightly old-fashioned values and a desire for romance, your latest Bridget Jonesesque sexfest won't get a look in.
Contact the Fiction EditorsMany magazines have printed 'writers guidelines' which they will send to you upon request. These tell you the required word length, the style of story (some only like romance, others like a sting in the tale or a grisly murder), the point of view they want the story to be written from and often give a list of unsuitable subjects.
Edit, Edit, EditYour first draft will never be as good as your third. Write your first draft straight off the top of your head and then leave it alone for at least a few days (hard, but necessary). You'll be amazed at how much stands out as needing a rethink. Rewrite, and then rewrite again. And then stop.
Avoid Cliches and Common PitfallsThere is always another way of saying something, so if you find yourself trotting out a cliche, just put the same sentiment into different words. Or get around it, with devices such as, 'she knew it was a cliche, but she felt like a teenager again'.
Watch your adverbs. Don't stick too many ly's on things. There should be no need to say 'he said quietly/loudly' etc. Instead say 'he whispered/shouted'.Getting People In and Out of Rooms
Always a difficult one but if your story is full of 'she went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea' or 'she went upstairs to bed' it will really slow the pace and make your work pedestrian. Skip this bit altogether and start a new paragraph in a different room. If your character has been sitting downstairs watching TV, for instance, start the next para with 'Her bed felt blissful/lonely/cold' etc.Submitting Your Work
First of all, make sure a particular publication accepts unsolicited manuscripts. As a rule of thumb, lots of the weeklies do but it is very, very rare for the glossy monthlies to consider it.Always submit on A4 paper, typed, double spaced, paged numbered and with a decent margin at each side.
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