Woman’s Weekly Fiction Editor Gaynor Davies shares her expert advice on how to write a short story

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Here at Woman’s Weekly Fiction Department we love to hear from you and receive short story submissions for both our weekly magazines and Fiction Monthly specials. If you are a published writer, an aspiring writer or just love writing in your spare time, do get in touch.

What We Are Looking For:

For the weekly magazine:


  • Short stories of 1,000 and 2,000 words
  • Serials in 4 or 5 parts of 3,400 words each



For Fiction Special (20 stories 12 times a year): 


  • Stories of 1,000, 2,000 and between 2,000 and 8,000 words

 

Why do people like short stories?

People like to have something they can pick up and read in a few minutes when they’re on the go. Be it travelling on a bus or relaxing in a bath, a short story can offer the reader a moment of escapism and that makes them very special.

What’s special about short stories?

All fiction should absorb the reader, drawing them into the story with the plot and creating believable characters and dialogue. Short stories are particularly engaging because of their length, they are intense tales that can be told succinctly. Writers of short stories often begin by setting up a question in the reader’s mind. The answer is then alluded to throughout the story with leading clues until the ending, when the question is finally answered.

Do all short stories need a plot twist?

Short stories don’t need a plot twist to captivate the reader but if you are building up to a revelation at the end, don’t let the story fall short of the reader’s expectations. Try to avoid shocking surprises, like husbands buried under the patio, or unresolved endings like, ‘She woke up and realized it was all just a dream’…

What are the most common mistakes writers make?

The easiest mistake to make as a short story writer is to give away too much information at the beginning. Establish the main character in the first couple of sentences and then drip feed the reader information throughout the story.

Just make sure you don’t mention how the short story will end in your covering letter, as it will spoil the surprise for Gaynor and the fiction team when they read your story.

Does the writer need to know how their story will end?

Every short story is written differently and only you, as the writer, can know how to start writing your story. Some writers plan their work meticulously, plotting the beginning, middle and end without deviating from their original plot. Other writers will begin their short stories with the opening sentence and just keep writing from there.

Even with twist in the tale stories, writers often know how they want the story to end but this can easily change along the way.

Our Guidelines and Tips:

We can only accept your stories by post, not by email. Please submit your typed story with double line spacing on one side of the paper only and wide margins.

Please number each page and make sure your name is at the top of each page.

If you would like us to acknowledge receipt of your manuscript, enclose a stamped, addressed postcard and an SAE in case we have to return your manuscript. If sending stories from abroad, please enclose an international reply coupon.

It can take some time for manuscripts to be considered, and we’re unable to enter into any correspondence by email.

We can’t offer feedback, but if your writing shows promise, we will contact you.

Please send your short stories (with word count) to:

Emma Shacklock, Fiction Writing Coordinator

Woman’s Weekly

Time Inc (UK)

161 Marsh Wall

London

E14 9AP

We look forward to reading your stories!