Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Monday, February 14, 2005

Diets, crumbs, coffee and chocolate...

... is what your manuscript has to survive, and if it's still gripping the attention of editorial at Women's Weekly magazine, then chances are you're heading in the right direction, says Gaynor Davies, Fiction Editor.

It's a noisy open-plan office with knitting and next-door's cat being chatted about on the telephones. Your short story has to grip attention despite all that. And still be gripping on a packed commute to work on the London Underground.

Still sure you've got what it takes to write fiction for Women's Weekly?

Ms Davies spoke this evening at a meeting of the Women's Writers Network in London I nipped off to after work. Having been tipped off on our e-mail list there were at least half a dozen RNA members there who I've met before. (Waving if you are reading this!)

The venue was in the rather curious Conway Hall, and we sat in a musty room lined with bookselves and hundred-year-old books. Not really a library - it didn't look as though any of the volumes were ever borrowed. (Bit like my old school library).

So, what did Ms Davies say? It's stuff I've heard before but it's great to hear it again and from the editor herself:

- Leading protagonists the reader identifies with
- Characters must have a problem to solve
- Action, not retrospective
- Character must change during the story, either internally or externally
- Escapist, yet believable
- Happy-ish endings at the very least
- Crime and ghost stores acceptable, but must be cosy
- Not beyond the bedroom door
- No interest in boy meets girl / woman finds old letters in attic / woman wanders along a beach and remembers her holiday romance type of stories

There are quite detailed guidelines available if you send them an SAE.

Ms Davies stressed she was willing to look at stories which were different, and wanted to broaden the range of fiction covered, but it had to be remembered that the core of the audience are 50+ and want optimism and humour, and not to be shocked.

Oh, and they get around 1,000 fiction submissions a month.

To take your mind off that imagined skyscraper of paper, visit Vanessa Jaye's blog.


  • At 5:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, Kate, you did that quickly. For my money it was the 1000 each month that made me more determined to be published by WW - even though the £100-ish payment isn't brilliant.
    (Yes, I was waving...)

  • At 9:55 pm, Blogger Kate Allan said…

    Yes, I'm trying to think how I can shut the bedroom door in a story I think they might like now to send to them. Hmmmm...


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