Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sue Moorcroft with Tips for writing short stories for the weekly magazine market

 Today I'm introducing Sue Moorcroft, whose novel LOVE & FREEDOM won the Best Romantic Read Award at the Festival of Romance 2011. Sue is published by Choc Lit, but she has been multi-published in short stories and knows the market backwards. Welcome, Sue! Over to you:

Sue's Tips for getting your short stories published:

  • Read the magazine, several issues.
  • List the adverts and regular columns for a rapid picture of the reader.
  • Study the style, especially the fiction. Write to it. EXCEPTION: don’t study the ‘big names’ fiction because ‘big names’ are allowed to break the rules.
  • Don’t confuse Readers’ Own Stories with the fiction. Readers’ Own Stories tend to be horrid; fiction nice.
  • Think upbeat, not downbeat. Think exasperation, not anger. Think Planet Magazine Fiction – it’s a nicer place to live than Real Life on Earth.
  • Style tends to be light, chatty, accessible.
  • Even a mature readership doesn’t want to read about old ladies being shoved into homes by busy relatives. They really, really don’t.
  • Don’t write from the point of view of an animal or inanimate object.
  • Write to the magazine for their guidelines or download them from the Internet. Follow them.
  • Avoid violence/gore/sex.
  • When you send a story to a magazine, if you have been published send a brief, friendly, covering letter saying so.
  • You need the desire to write for mags! – the operative word is ‘for’. If you don’t want to be part of a brand then magazine fiction is probably not for you. EXCEPTION. If you’re a well-known novelist you’re in a good position.
  • Write to wordcount with a tolerance of +/- 3%. Yes, really.
  • If you get a letter asking for changes and you can possibly make them, make them and send the revision with a nice letter thanking the editor for the guidance. You’re a big step closer to selling the story.

Good luck!

Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. Her latest book, Love & Freedom, won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 at the Festival of Romance. 
Sue is the author of over 130 short stories and 4 serials for the weekly magazine market, a ‘how to’ book, Love Writing – How to Make Money From Writing Romantic and Erotic Fiction, is the head judge for the Writers’ Forum fiction competition and a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner.


  1. Thanks Sue, and Liz. I often try my hand at short stories - and send them in for competitions. Rarely win, though. Now I have a good guideline to follow. I don't know if you agree - it seems harder when one always write novels to then write 'shorts'. Guess we have too much to say.... x C

  2. I do agree. But it's a good discipline doing something different, I think. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Carol.

  3. Hi Carol,
    I think what can make short stories hard is that they're a single episode. There's no room to make more than one point.

    I think of a short story as a single painting on a gallery wall. Without other paintings alongside to divide the attention of the viewer, it really has to be able to stand up to scrutiny.

  4. *Rubbish grammar alert! I should have written: each one is a single episode. :-)

  5. Thank you so much for this. Comes in handy right now, as I have started to try submitting stories to magazines again.