Fiction Ed’s Blog: Strong Stories Welcome

Shutterstock / Dmitry Demidovich © stories

This week, Abbie and I have been considering some stories for the next instalment in our Classics Collection.

Although we’ve been unable to access the Archive so far this year due to Covid restrictions, we already had a clear idea of the author and the era we were interested in, and Barry from the Archives Team is on hand (online) to offer his expertise, so it’s all systems go!

We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Something that is always very apparent when we look through archive material is that throughout the years, “Friend” fiction hasn’t been afraid to tackle tricky subjects – strong stories have always been welcome.

In the early days of the magazine, stories and poems were very hard-hitting. They often dealt with the poverty, illness and early death that were prevalent at the time.

Don’t be afraid

When I was researching archive poetry for our 150th Fiction Special, lots of 20th century verse touched on the yearning for peace, amid tumultuous times.

Coming back to this week, one of the stories we approved for publication was a striking 4000-word story based around the Tiananmen Square events of 1989.

These events provide the backdrop to the story. But the main focus is the characters, and how the events affected them.

Another story approved this week is based around local politics. Again, it focuses on the people involved, without mentioning political parties or allegiances. There are no references to contentious or polarising political situations, either.

So if you’re an author thinking of submitting to us, don’t be afraid of dealing with strong or dramatic themes.

What’s important is that it’s written around the people involved, and in an appropriate tone – with a “Friend” filter.

And always bear the reader in mind. The last thing we’d want is to offend, shock or alienate our readers, or cause upset.

Our readers enjoy memorable stories, with memorable characters.

Feel-good and funny stories remain welcome, especially in these times. Traditional stories remain popular – especially for our weekly and annual.

Less conventional, or stories with a stronger subject, may be a good fit for the Special – more information on writing for the Special is available by clicking here.

For more from the Fiction Ed’s blog, click 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!