Story Seeds

I’m not green fingered in the slightest.

So when our Illustrations Editor, Sarah, breezed into the office with half a dozen potted tomato seedlings, looking for cultivating homes for said little fellows, who do you think put up an adopting hand? Of course I did.

What could go wrong…

The tomato seedlings sprang a thought in my mind, relating to something I know a little more about – fiction stories. I’m sure my fiction colleagues will agree, it’s great when a story arrives on our desks and ticks all the boxes right away. From a solid plot to strong characterisation, some stories simply shine from beginning to end, with very little, if any, input needed from the team.

Story rewrites

But what about a story which doesn’t quite flow, and its shortcomings outshine its strengths?

This is when I approach the writer for a rewrite, suggesting ways for them to improve one or more story elements. Can the romance between two characters be made more believable to the reader, or can the story ending be more memorable, where the reader is left touched by the writer’s parting words?

My story suggestions might only relate to one or two lines of text. Other times, it might involve the writer rewriting complete paragraphs or even pages. But this will always be with the view of improving the writer’s chances of having their story bought and ultimately published in the pages of the magazine.

A little imagination . . .

story seeds

The tomato seedling reminded me of the germ of a story idea, which, with a little creativity and time, can develop into a “Friend” short story or serial. Some stories, like the seedling, take time to develop. Others can spring into the writer’s mind and are written in no time at all.

Our senses are forever taking in the world around us, and often the imagination takes time to flourish. The stories we write today could have taken weeks, months or even years to come to fruition. But the fact remains – a good story idea, given time, has the potential to develop into something more substantial.

I couldn’t finish without showing you “before and after” shots of my tomato seedling. As you can see from the top shot, it has taken root and is flourishing into a healthy plant. Will it eventually bear fruit? In my mind, it already has.


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Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.