Fiction Ed’s Blog: Historical Fiction In “The People’s Friend”

historical fiction

I thought it might be helpful this week to provide some pointers for authors considering submitting historical fiction to the “Friend”.

Historical fiction in our weekly issues

The first point to note is that generally speaking, we feature just one historical story per weekly issue. So of every seven short stories we accept for publication in the weekly, only one will be set in the past.

The second point is that for the weekly, we don’t tend to go back further than Tudor times.

And thirdly, the term “historical” now encompasses stories set any time before around 2010.

A definitive starting point

Choosing a historical era for a story can be really helpful for authors suffering from writer’s block, as it gives a definitive starting point.

And although we welcome stories set during the two World Wars and Victorian times, these are overwhelmingly the most popular eras for authors to set their stories in, so other time periods are most welcome.

In the Specials

Stories set in the past are welcome for our Specials, too. There’s more leeway in the Specials with regard to eras. Although it’s very unusual for us to go back further than the Tudors, we’ve featured stories set in mediaeval and even Viking times.

The Specials have a different set of requirements as regards word counts. You might find that longer story lengths lend themselves to the type of historical fiction you’d like to write – 3,500 and 4000 words, and 9,500-word Long Reads.

Our historical serials

In every weekly issue of the “Friend”, we have two serials running concurrently. One is always historical, the other contemporary.

It’s worth noting that we only publish one serial from any given period in history at any one time. So if for example, we’re already reading or scheduling a WWII serial, we won’t begin reading any others set in that period until the serial has been published.

We do this to offer our readers the best variety we can.

Historical series

Every issue of our weekly contains one series instalment – at the moment, it’s Stefania Hartley’s “Tales From The Parish”.

Our series tend to be set in contemporary times. The reason being that every instalment is only 800 words – making it tricky to include a plotline AND enough historical detail. But we’re always willing to consider new ideas.

Pocket Novels

Our large-print pocket novels have a word count of around 39,500 words. Where possible, we aim to alternate between historical and contemporary stories. So these are a good option for longer-length stories.

The artwork

When you’re working on a story, it can help to consider how it may be illustrated.

Another bonus of writing historical stories is the scope it gives our illustrators for producing stunning artwork. That goes for serials, too.

I’ll come to our historical fiction illustrations in a future Fiction Ed post.

Write for your reader

Finally, whenever your story is set, always write for your reader.

Our previous Fiction Ed, Shirley, always said that a good story could be transported into any era and it would still work. Good advice for us all!

For more from Fiction Ed Lucy, read her blog 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!