Useful “Friend” Writing Tips – Part 1


writing tips

I thought it would be helpful to list a few of our best writing tips for all our budding authors, and answer some common questions we receive here on the Fiction team.

There are a few! So I’ll be writing a “Part Two”, which will follow at a later date.

Do you accept stories featuring aliens?

The simple answer to that is no.

The magazine has conducted reader surveys in the past, and the general consensus is sci-fi isn’t what our readers look for in a typical “Friend” story.

I would like to write a serial, but I don’t know where to start?

My advice is to read the magazine and see what other serials we are publishing.

Our writers’ guidelines contain a section on serials, too. You’ll also find more information in Fiction Ed Lucy’s post, “Couldn’t Make Our Serial Writing Workshop?”

If you have an idea for a serial, the best thing is to approach the Fiction team.

You’ll receive helpful feedback and instruction as to what to do next.

We always require a first instalment, detailed outline and preferably a character list, too.

Can I write hard-hitting storylines?

Of course you can.

The “Friend” prides itself in publishing topical and emotional stories, and our Specials often feature “edgier” plots.

I regularly say to my writers, “It’s not the subject matter you should be wary of, but how you tackle it.”

Violence, swearing and drugs are taboo. But dealing with illness, grief — even an affair — can certainly work. Always give the readers hope, and you won’t go far wrong.

Do I format my stories before sending them in?

When it comes to formatting, less is more.

So simple double line spacing and paragraph returns is all that’s required.

What happens if you reject my story? Can I send it in again?

Following the initial feedback you are given, you are welcome to resubmit the story.

Sometimes you will receive a personal reply from the team, citing specific issues pertaining to plot or characterisation. Then you’ll be asked to address said issues and send in the story again.

Looking for more of Alan’s writing tips? Keep an eye out for Part Two!

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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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.