Couldn’t Make Our Serial Writing Workshop?

serial writing workshop

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been out and about again recently, leading a Serial Writing Workshop at our Fleet Street Offices.

If you are interested in writing serials for the “Friend” but couldn’t make the workshop, here are some helpful hints.

The basics

Our serials are generally between three and eight instalments long. Each instalment contains around 5000 words.

Within each instalment are three, four or five “scenes”. Each of these moves the story forward, and each is complete in itself.

The scenes will include their own mini-“curtain” to motivate the reader to keep going.

Each instalment should also end on a “curtain”, leaving the reader keen to find out what happens next week.


Main characters are nearly always women. A good place to start is with a family-based theme.

These give you scope for family members, extended family and friends to interact.

You should aim to include one main character, who carries the story, and two or three “viewpoint” characters. This “cast” of main characters each has their own story, which progresses in their own distinct scenes within each instalment.


You can set your serials at home, or abroad. Wherever they’re set, we ask you to make sure you research locations thoroughly. If it’s abroad, a link with home is helpful.

Think of it like a TV “soap”

Fiction Ed Shirley’s advice is to think of a serial as a TV soap in print, with viewpoint characters having their story told in “chunks”, and cliff-hanger endings.

It’s all about teamwork

From the moment you send in your initial synopsis, your editor will guide you through the process.

And a tip

The best piece of advice for would-be serial writers is to read the serials in the magazine regularly. And always send a synopsis first!

Read Shirley’s thoughts on her Serial Writing Workshop by clicking here.

You’ll find a wealth of writing tips here, and our general submission guidelines for fiction (including serials) here.

Lucy Crichton

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 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!