Monday, 17 November 2008

Want to write stories for women's magazines?

If there was a Royal Family of women's magazine fiction then Della Galton would undoubtedly be the Queen! Hundreds of her stories have appeared in magazines like Take a Break, Woman's Weekly, My Weekly and The People's Friend and if there's one person who knows what it takes to crack this market it's Della.

Earlier this year I travelled across the country to attend one of Della's workshops and when I heard that she was bringing out a 'how to' book I couldn't WAIT for it to come out.

Last week my copy finally arrived - and I wasn't disappointed. This is the book I wish had been published when I first started subbing to the women's magazine (womag) market back in 2005. If you're a complete beginner and haven't got the first idea:

a) what to write

b) where to submit it

b) how to submit it

then this is the book for you. Della tells you, in no uncertain terms, what types of stories work (and which don't) and how you should format them for the magazine editors. Like most books on short story writing she also covers:

  • finding ideas and inspiration
  • turning your idea into a workable plot line
  • writing effective dialogue
  • creating believable and sympathetic characters
  • settings
  • flashback and time span
  • using a theme
  • structure and pace

but what I particularly enjoyed about this book was the way Della asked (and answered!) questions that we all find ourselves asking at some point like - 'What to do if your plot doesn't work' and 'How much physical description should you use?' She uses examples from her own stories to illustrate her points and also includes extracts of fiction by other authors to show what she admires. Oh, and each chapter ends with 'Tips from the experts' - other published writers - including our very own womagwriter.

Even if you're not a complete beginner when it comes to womag stories there's still lots to learn from Della's book and I've got a feeling mine will become very well thumbed over the next couple of months. Highly recommended!


Kate Lord Brown said...

Thanks for the recommendation - great help. I've been thinking of trying some short stories again - do you find they balance well with your longer work?

Paige said...

Good recommendation, sounds like a really useful book. I would love to try women's mags but the only problem I have is the company that owns half of them.

Calistro said...

Kate - Back when I just used to write short stories I used to write one a week plus a couple of flashes. When I wrote my novel last year my short story output fell to about one a month. At the moment, when I'm planning novel 2, I'm managing a story a fortnight thereabouts. I find that, sometimes, when novel writing, it's nice to take a break to write something different.

Paige - Yeah, I know. But if you sold a story to them wouldn't YOU have the upper hand? And there's quite a few markets that aren't connected to that company!

Paige said...

True, I probably would have the upper hand but that's if I sold anything to them. I doubt I could take any more rejections-I already have a boxful. They've already destroyed one career hope for me, I don't want them to have the chance to destroy this one.

As much as I would love to do it, I can't help but think short story writing isn't for me.

KAREN said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and even got a short story idea from one of her tips!

HelenMH said...

I've been reading it as well, and finding it really helpful. Della truly is an inspiration.

Debs said...

Highly recommended indeed. Mine arrived the other day and I agree that it's an excellent book. I certainly need all the help I can get.

Fiona said...

Saw your book on Amazon and have pre ordered it. Exciting!

LittleBrownDog said...

This sounds like a great book (and I hope Della is passing on a cut for the plug!). Best of luck with both your books - looking forward to seeing them in print.

Calistro said...

Paige - that's fair enough. Short stories aren't everyone's cup of tea!

Karen - that's great! You'll have to let her know if you get a sale out of it!

Helen - she really is!

Debs - Glad you're enjoying it too. And I'm sure that's not true about you needing all the help you can get!

Fiona - Have you?!! Oh that's so lovely. Thank you so much :o) That's TWO Amazon pre-orders I know about now!

LittleBrownDog - I do sound a bit gushy don't I, but honestly, it's a terrifically helpful book for a market that's tougher to crack than people think. I wish I had a cut for my plug! ;o)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the ideas please check my collection of short stories at

KAREN said...

Your book's available to pre-order?!!? I'm off to do that now :o)

Lily Sheehan said...

I definately will be buying this one. Thanks for the recommendation

Jean said...

I bought this book from Borders today. Looking forward to reading it.

Quillers said...

Mine is winging it's way from Amazon. I'm hoping it will be here tomorrow. Della is definitely the queen of the womags.

Shonda Little said...

You are an overachiever!

ChrisH said...

Zinnia mentioned this too - it sounds like a not-to-be-missed how-to book and I'm a bit wary of short story writing. Am in awe of you continuing to do both! Well done!

DOT said...

Thanks for your recommendation.

I have to admit I am suspicious of 'How to…' books, especially 'How to…' books on writing. There are so many of them and their value can only lie in the experience of their authors as well as their authors' degree of authority - both impossible to evaluate until you have read and compared several. Moreover, arriving at a valid evaluation is near impossible for an unpublished author as they have no standard by which to measure the worth of the book.

A neatly circular problem.

womagwriter said...

The book's great, isn't it? I love all the quotes by writers. And Della certainly knows her stuff!

Kate.Kingsley said...

Looks good ~ thanks for the heads up. Shall add it to my amazon wishlist ASAP :-)