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

Friday, 14 June 2013

Just What do Women's Weekly Want?

I've never had a short story published by Women's Weekly but I know there are lots of you out there who have. So what I'm asking for are for those who have been published by them to tell us, if you don't mind, what you think is the most important thing to remember when writing for them.

We are always told to read the market we want to try and write for and this is good advice whichever magazine you want to write for but what else might help us to write the kind of story they want? Their guidelines are very clear and writers should follow them if they want to increase their chances. But do you remember the first time you sold to them? How long did it take you and if you've had a few sales with them - what do you think it is that they like about your stories?

We look forward to any advice you can give.

Happy writing
Julie xx

PS: This is what writer, Kay Seeley, has to say on the subject after she attended one of Women's Weekly's workshops.

Woman’s Weekly Fiction Writing Workshop

What they are looking for:

Stories that include universal feelings, the psychology of relationships and poetic writing. Stories reflecting your own experience.  (i.e. write what you know)

Characters must be real people with real emotions.  No stiff upper lips.  Stories that make the reader laugh or cry.  They do not accept stories that deal with the sordid side of life.  They want pleasure, escapism, good visual descriptions.  Stories must have warmth (Gaynor stressed this several times) and difficulties for the character to overcome.  They will take cosy crime (i.e. where the crime takes place off stage, written from the pov of the victim or the detective solving the case). They like a good mystery.

Stories must have a satisfying ending – not a so what? Story.

All their stories are character driven.

1000 word stories must have a surprise ending (not necessarily a twist but something to make the reader go Ah!)

2 pagers (1,800 words) must have tension and character development.  All stories whatever length must have strong plots where the characters are really tested.

Characters must be totally believable and must be changed by the end of the story. (character arc)

Their guidelines say:

They are looking for originality and a wide variety of themes and moods, such as mystery, humour, relationships and family issues with warmth still an important factor.
They recommend you read several issues of WW and WW Fiction Special to get feel for their audience.   (Good advice - it really is the only way to do it!)

Thanks, Kay, for sharing.
Hope it helps!


Rena George said...

Hi Julie. I'm another one who has never been published in Woman's Weekly. It's got to be a bit of an obsession with me.
I've studied the mag, followed the guidelines, but the closest I've got so far are the lovely rejection letters saying they like the warmth of my writing, but ...

Frances Garrood said...

This is very hard to answer, Julie, as I think many of us feel the same. But what does come across is that they like the unusual, the funny, the fresh, the tear-jerking. They seem to have three complaints when they reject (as you probably know!): 'guessable', 'no surprises', and the good old 'well worn theme'.

Having said that, I've found that if the WWT can be presented in a new, fresh way, they will often buy it. Girl meets boy, loses boy, regains boy; if that's written in such a way as to appeal to them because it is really different/fresh, they may well like it.

But I think it's a bit of a lottery. They have bought stories I didn't rate highly, and turned down some I thought were sure winners. I think we just have to keep on writing, and I'm sure that, with your experience, they will buy a story sooner or later.

But they do have a huge 'slush piles of unsolicited stories' to get through, so I think that luck must play a major part. That and the subjectivity of the first person to read your story.

But the editors are lovely to work with; just snowed under (but then aren't all magazine editors?). Have you thought of going on WW's next course? Several fellow-bloggers have found it really interesting.

Hope this helps!

Julie P said...

We have to keep trying, don't we, Rena! I must admit that I haven't subbed any to them for a while and, like you, I have also read and read and read the stories in their magazine, but I haven't come anywhere close enough yet. But I think practise will make perfect and I'm determined to get there with them! Good luck with your stories too. Julie xx

Julie P said...

Hi, Frances and thank you for the much appreciated advice. Yes I was thinking about going on one of their workshops but unfortunately my 'other' life get's in the way - as it does! But I might have to see if I can book some time off work in term time to go to one. It's not easy when you work in a school - I'm hoping they'll do one in the school hols or on a weekend.

Julie xx

Anonymous said...

There's a blog post here which I thought was very helpful.


Julie P said...

Also Helen Yendall has blogged about this very subject over on wordpress if you're interested.

Thanks Anonymous too!

Julie xx

Rena George said...

I think what Frances says is right. WW still want the popular themes, but written in a fresh, new way. Something to think about here, maybe.

Wendy's Writing said...

I have had three stories published in WW - so what have I learnt? They definitely like some sort of twist or surprise and not just in their short stories. My story in this month's WW Fiction Special would at first sight appear to have a 'Well Worn Theme' (see my past blog post on this) - a student teacher having a hard time in a school - but because of the twist, they liked it. To make your story stand out it either needs to be a fresh idea or not so fresh but with twist. I went to the WW workshop (see blog post) and would say that this is, in a nut shell, what Gaynor is looking for. A definite no-no is cliched boy meets girl romance. Despite having had sales to WW, I have still sold a lot lass to them than the other mags and as Frances said, ones that you are sure fit the bill still come back - my highest rejection count is with them.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Wendy and Rena - you've certainly given us all something to think about.

Julie XX