Behind The Scenes: Myth-Busting

Photo actually by Mr Fiction Ed, and he's no myth.

Hallowe’en seems as good a time as any to bust a myth or two that I’ve read over time about “The People’s Friend” and the fiction team.

Myth 1: The “Friend” team don’t like sentences beginning with “So”.

This is a fab example of Chinese Whispers and didn’t half make me giggle. It’s come from a topic on our Facebook page, when we said that we don’t like the habit interviewees have these days of starting the answer to every question with “So.” Eg, “How did you do that?” “So. I took the knife and sliced into the cheese.” Now I’ve pointed it out you’ll notice it everywhere. But that’s all. No blanket ban on beginning a sentence “So”.

Myth 2: We’re a magazine for “old ladies stroking stuffed cats”/our stories are “all sweet young romance”/we’re a magazine for old people.

Grrr. This is so insulting to our readers who are all sorts of ages, all types of women – and men – with a whole cornucopia of interests and pastimes. And I’m happy to say that most of our writers are getting that now. The variety of stories coming in is terrific.

Myth 3: Our systems are old-fashioned.

This is because we still prefer mss to be submitted by post. But it works. Stories are trackable and traceable and manageable. It’s an efficient system. If it ain’t broke…But I was actually fascinated to read Claire Cooper’s guest post on Womagwriter’s blog about this: You have just printed out 30 or 40 stories which have been emailed to you and now you have to marry up story and writer, write their details on the copy, go back into the story to check the word count and write that and the page numbers down as well. A laborious and time-consuming job.

I agree. Our hard copy submissions policy cuts out all that faff and we can get straight on with reading.

Myth 4: We sometimes bin stories that are the “wrong length” without reading them.

I’ve gone over this one recently and discussed how we prioritise our reading. However, there’s no harm in restating that we read everything, unless it’s hand-written, or the writer asks for it back before we have time to. And that “bin” is one of our secure disposal cabinets, as required by data protection legislation, via our database to be logged out.

Myth 5: I can be a bit blunt.

Well, that one might be true!

If I think of any more, I’ll PS. Or maybe you can think of some that it’ll be my pleasure to bust?

Oh, and thanks to my friend Alma for the Trick or Treat basket, and to Mr Fiction Ed for the photo. 

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.