Why Have I Been Asked For A Rewrite?

By the time you see a “People’s Friend” story on the page, it’s been proofread, edited and illustrated. Prior to publication, it’s been critiqued and approved by at least one member of the Fiction Team, before being passed to Fiction Ed Shirley and Editor Angela, and then scrutinised by our Production Team.  So the finished piece of work you see in the issue is very much the last stage in a process.

The story that’s printed isn’t always the first version of that story – occasionally, after reading a manuscript, we return it to the author requesting a rewrite. So when do we ask for a rewrite, and why?

If it’s your first story for the “Friend”

Stories which are sent in to us by authors who have not previously worked for the “Friend” are known as USMs – unsolicited manuscripts.

If you’ve sent in a USM and your story isn’t quite right, we’ll include one of our Standard Returns Letters (Rets) when we return your manuscript, if you’ve enclosed an SAE. Rets are letters we send out clarifying why your story wasn’t right for us this time, and giving practical advice on how to move forward. More on these here.

If your story has more definite “Friend” potential, you’ll receive an individual response, detailing exactly where we feel your story could improve, and requesting a rewrite.

If you’re an established “Friend” author

Occasionally, we ask established authors for a rewrite, too – it doesn’t only apply to new writers.

Why rewrites are requested

We aim to present your story in its best possible guise before passing it over to our Senior Readers for their decision, so rewriting is one way to iron out any little niggles before your manuscript reaches the Editor.

Generally speaking, we’ll only ask you to look at one or two small sections of the story again, as opposed to a complete rewrite. Perhaps the characterisation could be improved, or the ending lacks a feel-good factor? Whatever the reason, we’ll be clear about what’s required.

More than one rewrite?

It isn’t uncommon for us to ask for a story to be looked at again more than once, if it isn’t quite right first time round.

Not intended as a criticism

Being asked to rewrite your story isn’t meant in any way as a criticism. The Fiction Team’s aim is to help your work fit “Friend” criteria more closely, making it more likely to be accepted and published, and enjoyed by our readers.

It should be noted that a rewrite isn’t a guarantee of acceptance.

Should I attempt a rewrite without being asked for one?

If you go ahead and attempt a rewrite without being asked directly, it might be helpful to take note of the reasons it wasn’t accepted initially, and apply them to any new versions of your story.

Don’t rush rewrites

One final piece of advice – try not to rush rewrites. After making any changes, let them ‘settle’ and read the whole thing over to makes sure it all makes sense. And although we only accept postal submissions, email is acceptable for rewrites.


Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!