Working From Home: The Story Mix

Shutterstock / Okrasiuk © story mix

When we’re in the office, the Story Mix — choosing the selection of stories that will appear in each issue — is the first thing I do every Wednesday morning.

I’m doing that at home, too, to keep things as close to normal as possible.

When we’re in the office

All the stories which are bought, illustrated and ready to schedule are usually kept in the A-Z Story File in the office.

Before each story is filed, Commissioning Illustrations Editor, Manon, adds its illustration to our artwork library, giving it a unique code.

She also prints out a copy of each illustration and pops it in the packet where the original copy of the story is kept.

This is so that when we’re doing the Story Mix in the office, we can look at the illustrations all together, and make sure none are too similar.

Our little story card box contains all the information on every story in stock. So that’s my first port of call, whether we’re in the office or at home.

It allows me to choose seven stories of the right length and season, and make sure all seven are varied, with different authors and illustrators if possible.

While we’re working from home

Usually, once the stories for each issues have been chosen, we spread all seven story illustrations out so we can see how they look as a Mix. Remembering that we also have two serial illustrations to include, too!

At the moment that’s not possible. Instead I go into our image library and pop a copy of each illustration in a desktop folder. This allows us to check the Mix online.

Now it’s over to Manon to check that she’s happy with things, illustration-wise.

In every story mix

We’re looking for a selection of seven stories — or fourteen for the Special — that are all varied. That means by different authors and illustrators, if possible; with different themes. And with a mix of moods, too — light-hearted and fun; dramatic; reflective, or thought-provoking.

We’re also looking for different compositions in our illustrations. So a mix of single people, couples, and larger groups, as well as images without people.

We also try to include a mix of newly-commissioned artwork, archive artwork, and images from picture libraries. So there’s lots to factor in!

Our opening story needs to have a strong illustration. It needs to set the tone for the magazine, and to be bright and engaging. Each illustration should draw the reader in.

Once Manon and I have given the Mix the green light, all stories and artwork are put in online folders and sent over to the Production team, ready to be edited, then laid out on a page by our Design team, and proofread by everyone.

For more from Fiction Ed Lucy, read her blog here.

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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!