Monday 22 October 2018

Seasonal stories

Womag editors are very keen on seasonal stories. I'm using the term 'seasonal' in a very broad sense here – it covers spring, summer, autumn and winter of course, but also Valentine's and Christmas, the holiday season, anniversaries of historic events ...

At the moment there are more ghost stories than usual (I have one in Take A Break's Fiction Feast). Soon there will be bonfires and as we're coming up to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 I'm sure that will feature in some magazines.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing a seasonal story –

1. Get it in early. In many cases six months in advance could be too late.

2. You don't need to be too obvious. For example a story about fresh starts or self improvement might be suitable for an issue with a New Year theme, even if you don't mention January 1st.

3. Don't write too many stories with a non annual seasonal theme. An Easter story which doesn't sell one year can be subbed elsewhere the next. A leap year story will have a longer wait and any spare Royal wedding ones you have left over might be gathering dust for a long time to come.

4. You can add seasonal details to almost any story with careful choice of the clothes people wear and food or drink they consume – wellies and roast chestnuts, ice cream and flip flops.

These can be switched if required. I've just had what was written as a summer story accepted for a People's Friend special which will go out in January. The original ice cream will be swapped for hot chocolate so it's a better fit.

5. If subbing abroad, remember their seasons, and even special days, may be different. You'll have a tough job selling a story about a Christmas snowball fight, or March Mother's Day to That's Life in Australia.

Do you prefer reading and writing seasonal or non seasonal stories? (If you like reading the kind of spooky stories which appear in womags at this time of year, you'll enjoy my latest short story collection, Slightly Spooky Stories II ).

Do you have any tips to share, questions to ask, or words of warning about writing seasonal stories?

Can you think of any 'seasons' I've not mentioned, but which could be used in a womag story?


ados123 said...

Woo hoo! Congrats on the sale to People's Friend, Patsy. You've cracked that one!

Re seasonal - beware for Australian mags. Christmas isn't cold! And winter is in July, so I find stories that are not seasonal work better for them.

Rosemary Johnson said...

Congrats on sale to PF. Some useful tips, thanks.

Patsy said...

@ Ados – Thank you. With Australian stories I find it's matching months to seasons which is the trickiest. I can't think of March as being anything other than a spring month.

@ Rosemary – I'm glad it's of interest.

Red-Lucy said...

Hi Patsy-as the Womag guru 😉I'm turning to you because I can't find what I'm looking for elsewhere. I'm not a frequent submitter of short stories to magazines but have one I think will work for People's Friend (she hopes!) but I see the guidelines say no paragraph indents. How best to differentiate the paragraphs/scenes then? Should I use a gap and/or a #. It just doesn't look right without something to separate the paragraphs.Thanks Nita