Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Weekly News - Fiction research

This post follows a similar format to my Take A Break research post. I hope you find it useful - it's certainly thrown up a few surprising points for me. FOR DETAILS ON WHO AND WHERE TO SEND SUBMISSIONS FOR THE WEEKLY NEWS(AND ALL THE OTHER MAGS TAKING FICTION) AND SUBMISSION GUIDELINES SEE THE MARVELLOUS WOMAG'S BLOG.

The Weekly NewsI looked at 28 stories.

They have three stories in a week of variable lengths from 700 - 1500. Similar to take a break in feel - 'The magazine that thinks it's a newspaper.' It's packed full of celebrity news as well as some real-life stories of non-celebs. Uri Geller has his own column in there (I met him once at a science fiction conference in Birmingham. He was very nice but also very strange! We were chatting and he was drawing something in his note book and he told me my star sign was pisces and he'd drawn me a fish and signed it!) Anyway, back to the Weekly News.

All of the titles ranged from one worders to five worder - song titles seem popular - or well known phrases. Examples:

Health And Safety.
The Candle Burned Out Long Before. (By our very own Sally Quilford!!)
Storm In A Tea Cup.
Spotless.

The average word count for stories in The Weekly News are more variable than Take A Break and they have three stories in a week of different lengths. Word count as above 700 - 1500 words.

Subjects of stories:

Police investigating a sudden death at an Art Gallery.

A 14 yr old boy convinced that one of the elderly lady residents as the warden controlled bungalow complex his mum is warden at is a spy/up to something.

A taxi man who picks up a fare (a woman in labour) and it's not until near the end of the story you realise the woman is in fact the taxi driver's wife.

The tooth fairy - single mum who is getting grief from her young son because his school friend got a fiver when his tooth fell out and his mum can't afford to give him the same but she caves in and then she gets grief from her mother!

A beauty salon owner trying to find out which member of staff is pinching jars of expensive creams from her salon.

Characters:

Wide variety - it seems anything goes really.

Teenagers
Pensioners
children
middle aged
you name it - they're in there.

Point of view:

The majority of stories are told from the female character perspective (18/28)
but a fair few are male orientated (10/28).

As with Take A Break, all stories were told in the third person. I find this point very interesting as some of my stories are first person so I think if I switch them to third person they may have a better chance of acceptance - who knows?! ***** Postscript to blog - Lynne Hackles has very kindly pointed out that she spoke with the editor of The Weekly News and he said they don't accept first person stories - so there you go! *****Nine of the stories start with speech but the rest begin with action - something happens to the main character or they are watching something happening to someone else - description. Remember the character - conflict - resolution formula? Very much in evidence in the stories in The Weekly News. Or to quote Mr Dwight Swain's advice: Goal (The character wants to achieve something or get something) - Conflict (something/someone prevents the character from attaining their goal) - Disaster (The character tries out a solution to the problem but it fails) - Reaction (the character reacts to the failure and reassess the conflict) - dilemma (character has two or more possible actions to take to resolve his conflict) - Decision (character takes the decision, right or wrong in that the character may not get what he originally wanted, and conflict is resolved). Hurrah - a satisfying story that editors will want to buy - we hope!

Settings and themes:

Everyday happenings, events, the ordinary stuff, relationship problems of all types: Mother/daughter, husband/wife, partners, father and son.

Beauty salon
Stately House
Clothes shop
Department store
hotel
The home
In a taxi
Office
Art museum
Victorian street (historical short story - very interesting)
Flat
Fortune teller's shop.


Characters:

Sales rep, pensioners, ghosts, estate agent, cleaner, taxi driver, dog owner, housewife, shopper, jogger, beauty therapist, zoo keeper, house keeper,policemen, mothers, spies (another historical short story - something I've not seen in Take A Break.)

The language of these stories is simple and to the point. It isn't flowery or 'literary'. Everyday language with everyday people and everyday situations. The Weekly News is aimed at around the 25-40 year olds so you're looking for stories they can relate to and will mean something to them and that demographic.

I hope you find these points helpful when you submit to The Weekly News next year. It's been an incredibly hard year for writers, from what I've seen and been told, and you have to remember that we are up against the thousands of other writers sending their short stories out there too. It is such a competitive field so it's not surprising that most of us get more rejections than acceptances. I'm not being pessimistic or the bringer of doom! Just being realistic. I have to admit that if I ponder too much on this fact it can stop me from writing. So it's probably best to batten down the hatches, read, learn and improve your stories and keep submitting them. As those of you who have followed my blog, and other writer's blogs over the past year will know, I have only managed to get one short story published and that was in an Australian magazine. But others have been more successful and that's inspiring and encouraging.

I can't give you a magic formula or advice to make your writing better or increase your chances of publication - if I knew that, I'd have had loads of stories published! I don't think the market is as predictable as that anyway. Who knows what might catch an editor's eye - they don't know what they want until they see it sometimes. But I can give you truck loads of enthusiasm and motivation and a sympathetic ear when it's not going as well as you or I would wish! I can also tell you things that I have found helpful in writing and submitting my own stories. So I hope together we can get there in 2010!

I've had a break from writing my short stories for three months now (sounds like an age doesn't it!) But having done my research and read the wonderful research that Olivia Ryan has done and posted about My Weekly, I'm raring to go in the New Year to start writing them again. I've had such a wonderful time with article writing and doing NaNoWriMo for the first time, that I feel better able to return to my short story writing. I think the break has done me good as, to be honest, I was getting hacked off with the constant rejections! And it did knock my confidence a lot. I was beginning to doubt my own ability to write good enough quality fiction to get published. But now I have a better idea and have picked up great advice this year, I'm going to have another stab at it in 2010. Anyone with me?!

I'm not going to blog over the next couple of weeks, unless I have something to report or get up with the Christmas telly! So have a lovely Xmas and New Year. I'll post my research on Take A Break Fiction Feast after the holidays. I am just going to post a quick video of my daughter singing for you as it's festive and fun!

Julie xx

8 comments:

Teresa Ashby said...

This is gold dust, Julie. You've worked so hard putting all this together and it is extremely generous of you to share it.

"I have only had one short story published." There is no room for "only" in that sentence. It is such an achievement, Julie and proves that you have the talent to do it. In 1984 I had one story published, the year after it was ten (and there was a much bigger market for short stories back then).

Keep at it. Your blog is a pleasure to read and I bet your stories are too.

I hope you have a lovely Christmas and I wish you bucket loads of success in 2010. xx

Julie P said...

Thanks so much, Teresa.

I don't mind sharing the research and if it helps me and other writers to get published I'm happy.I hope other writers keep at it too as it's the only way to go. I've had such fun with my writing this year and with what I've learned I'm ready to have another bash at the short story writing after Xmas.

Yes, it's been horrible getting all the rejections but they won't stop me from trying again. The research myself and Olivia have done and posted has opened my eyes wider and given me some pointers on where I can improve.

I have to say that you, Teresa, and Olivia, Geraldine Ryan, Helen.M.Hunt, Glynis Scrivvens, Paula Williams, Womag, Strictly Writing, Sally Quilford and all the other successful writers, who have had their stories published widely have given me and so many other writers such wonderful support and encouragement and it means so much, it really does.

Anyway, before I get too sentimental and start blubbing, have a wonderful Xmas and may we all have a wonderful 2010 what ever we end up doing!

Julie xx

Carole Anne Carr said...

Have a lovely warm family Christmas, that Father Christmas keeps waving at me from the shelf!
Hugs...xx

Julie P said...

And you, Carole! I've just posted a video and some pics on a new blog posting of my daughter and Santa and one of Phyllis at her book signing - very festive!

Julie xx

Lynne Hackles said...

You are so generous to share this. I can't get The Weekly News here so it's especially useful to me. I have heard from Billy Higgins that they do not accept fiction written in the first person so get out those stories, in the new year, change them from first to third person and try them again.
Have a good time with your family. Happy Christmas.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Lynne. And also thank you for adding the bit about The Weekly News not accepting first person stories - I didn't realise that - but it would explain why I haven't seen any in there!

Happy Christmas and good luck in the New Year

Julie xx

Olivia Ryan said...

Thank you so much for all your hard work with this research, Julie. My own little bit of delving into 'My Weekly' pales into insignificance by comparison, especially as so many writers can't even submit there at present, sadly. Yes, it is generous of you to share this info, as others have said - and isn't that just what writing communities are all about ... whether it's actual writing groups, associations like the RNA, on-line forums or blogs - I love the way we all help and support each other. Despite the intense competition to be published, we don't bitch at each other or jostle each other for attention. Well, I guess some writers do but they are not the ones I want to socialise with, either in real life or on the internet!
Have a wonderful Christmas, Julie, and I really do wish you the very best of luck with your writing in 2010 - you deserve it and you obviously DO have the talent, as you've proved with your poetry and articles being published. It might take time, but all your hard work will surely pay off. xxx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Olivia,

I think it's great when writers work together and help each other along as they do in Blog Land. Life's too short for negativitity and I think it takes the fun out of writing - if writers are constantly carping about other writer's success and suffering from a bit of the old green eyed monster syndrome then they do themselves no favours. I'm with you on that one - about not wanting to socialise with writers who bitch etc! There's no need for it. And if writers who do that would spend the time they waste on moaning actually put the work in that the more successful writers do instead, then they would see better results in their own writing!

Thanks for your continuing support and for keeping me on the straight and narrow! And have a wonderful Xmas and have a break while you can! I intend to as I know I'm going to increase my efforts, having learned so much over the last year, in 2010.
Julie xx