Friday, 15 February 2013
Guest post by Helen Yendall
Well, my plea for more guest posts and 'the stories behind the story' on the Laura Marcus post worked - Helen Yendall has sent me this post about the double inspiration for her story in the current Woman's Weekly Fiction Special. Thanks Helen! I agree - stories which come from two different sources of inspiration tend to be the most successful.
I'd love to run more posts like this one, so if you'd like the world of womag to know the story behind your story, please contact me using the link above. I'll always include links back to your blog, website or other relevant page.
Over to Helen:
Saying I Will
I have a one-page story in the current (February 2013) Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special (page 71) called ‘Saying I Will’.
I’m well into double figures with sales to Woman’s Weekly now BUT if that sounds smug, it isn’t meant to be! They still reject more of my stories than they take and I even though I’m able to email them my stories (once you’ve had one accepted, you’re allowed to do that), they can still take 3 or 4 months to come back to me on a story. So I still have to work just as hard – and suffer the same frustrations – as everyone else, published or not! (*bangs head against wall*!)
Anyway, I thought you might be interested in the ‘story behind the story’ and for those who don’t have a copy of the current issue, in a nutshell, ‘Saying I Will’ is about a woman, Trisha, whose ex-husband is remarrying and how it’s made her feel.
WW actually spoiled the ‘twist’ a little, as at the beginning, I wanted the reader to think that it’s Trisha who’s getting married (the first line is, “On the day of the wedding, I wake to bright sunshine...” ) but in the ‘blurb’ WW have printed a line from the story which clearly tells the reader that it’s her ex-husband who’s getting married - but never mind. Once they’ve bought the story, they can do what they like!
I actually got the idea for the story from 2 different sources and I love it when I’m able to bring two ideas together like that because that usually means the story has a bit of ‘depth’ and layering to it.
Source 1: The Charity Shop
I took a bag of stuff into our local charity shop last summer and commented to the man behind the counter on what another miserable day it was (it was raining). He shrugged rather sadly and said, “It can rain every day this month as far as I’m concerned. Especially on the 28 th.” So, naturally, I asked him the significance of 28th (of July, as it happened) and he explained that his ex-wife was getting remarried on that day and they were having a marquee in the garden. (Sad really, wasn’t it?). I probably didn’t help matters by telling him (truthfully) that my brother’s birthday is 28 th July and he always has a barbecue and, as my brother is Mr Jammy, the sun ALWAYS shines (and actually, it did again last year – and I thought about the charity shop man on that day).
But my little conversation made me think, ‘There’s a story in that’. But I didn’t quite have enough material to turn it into something.... until ...
Source 2: The Daily Mail
The Mail, and other tabloids, whatever you may think of them as ‘newspapers’, are a great source of ideas and inspiration for women’s magazine stories as they have lots of women-focussed lifestyle articles and human interest stories.
And not long after the incident in the charity shop, I read an article in the Mail about what to do if your ‘ex’ is getting remarried. One suggestion was to go on holiday – to a different time zone – and concentrate on your future, instead of mourning the past.
Ta dah! That was it. That gave me the rest of the story. Trisha and her old college friend Sarah head for California and drink champagne on the day of her ex’s wedding. And when Sarah asks her if she’ll drink a toast to the rest of her life, Trisha says, “I Will!”
Helen blogs at: www.blogaboutwriting.wordpress.com