Don’t Give Up: Writing For “The People’s Friend”

Don't Give Up

We often ask our contributors for the advice they’d give aspiring authors. One of the most common pearls of wisdom we get back seems pretty simple: don’t give up.

But what does that mean? Is it just bashing on with what you’re currently writing, no matter what? And how do you know when to finally step away from a story and try something new?

Tackling A Rewrite

New “Friend” writers often comment on the challenges of submitting pieces to us. In particular, it is important for them to know that our readers want to identify with and see their own principles reflected in character behaviour.

Sometimes, however, a story’s characters aren’t engaging enough, or the plot is on the weak side. If that is the case, you’ll receive feedback from the Fiction team (as detailed in the excellent “What Is A “Ret” Letter?” by my colleague, Lucy).

But how do you know whether to rewrite a story or not . . .?

If a member of the team thinks a story will be worth a rewrite, you’ll be sent an individual reply explaining ways to improve the highlighted issues.

It’s worth remembering that a story might take a few rewrites to get right!

Try Something New

For whatever reason, there are times when no amount of rewriting will work. What then?

I would encourage you to write another story, and then another story after that. It may be stating the obvious, but I cannot stress enough the relationship between writing and perseverance.

It gives the team no greater pleasure than seeing writers have their first story accepted after numerous unsuccessful submissions. Often that final big step the writers take is finding their writing voice, and successfully incorporating it into the “Friend” style of storytelling.

Alongside perseverance, belief is also important. There will always be new stories to share; as a writer, the trick is knowing what to do when confronted with an obstacle. Can it be overcome with a rewrite? Or should you take a different story path altogether?

Either way, it’s about not giving up.

You can find more hints and tips for aspiring authors in our Writing Tools section.

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”.