Writing Prompt Story Starter: Dandelion


Why do you think I’ve chosen a picture of a dandelion for this week’s Writing Prompt Story Starter ?

When I saw it, I kind of admired its persistence. Its determination to find a foothold, to establish itself in a hostile environment. Like a cuckoo in the nest. And on that thought I was about to write “but less destructive or harmful” ….but perhaps that’s not the case, because I presume its roots are undermining the structure of this wall where it’s growing.

But anyway, that’s what it made me think of: an interloper, or refugee, or immigrant, or orphan….Someone having to carve out a new life in uneasy circumstances.

What does it do for you?

I seem to be keeping my Writing Prompt Story Starter short this week, so I’ll use my extra word allowance to talk about word counts.

About word counts

Lucy has recently written a blogpost about why we might edit your work, and it’s already prompted a couple of queries. She mentioned that our stories fit templates of 1200, 1800, 2000 or 3000 words, and the question has arisen about that 1800-word length. So let me try to explain.

Every short story that appears in The People’s Friend appears in the same typeface, font size, spacing, leading and formatting. Three stories that have  identical word counts might come in at three different lengths in terms of column inches once all that formatting has been completed. So although we say our templates fit 1800 and 2000 words, it’s not that precise. Sometimes it’s 1900 words, 0r 1850, or 1925, or 2017 …. Which means we need wriggle room.

Now, you know we ask writers to add 10% to their word counts. Thus 1800 words plus 10% = 1980, which we round up to 2000. See? (I know – me doing sums! My maths teacher would be so proud….) But some writers take our 2000-word recommendation literally and submit precisely 2000 words, and if we said 1800 words they’d submit 1800 words bang on. Leaving us no wriggle room. And – sorry – but most stories are unharmed by a little bit of trimming when necessary.  So, broadly, it’s better to think of 2000 + 10% = 2200 which allows us that wriggle room so that your story can fit either our 1800 or 2000 template as suits.

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.

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