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

Following on from last week’s blog on the historical stories we feature in the “Friend”, I thought it might be useful to outline what we’re looking for in our contemporary stories.

Stories Set In The Present Day

The first thing to mention about contemporary stories featured in the “Friend” is that they are the era we use most of. Of every seven stories bought for our weekly issue, six take place in the present day.

So it follows that we need many more stories set in the present day than in the past.

What We’re Looking For

We’re looking for stories that most importantly, will appeal to “Friend” readers.

Our readers enjoy a good read with situations and characters they feel comfortable with. A strong plot line and engaging characters, with a family feel. They want to laugh, cry or sympathise with characters who feel real to them.

Words that often describe our contemporary fiction are – feel-good, charming, touching, thought-provoking, compelling, engaging, upbeat, light-hearted, perceptive, fun, and heart-warming.

The Special gives authors an opportunity to handle themes which may be more challenging.

Word Count

For our weekly issues, we feature stories of 1200, 2000, and 3000 words. We allow 10% leeway, either way.

Word counts in the Specials are slightly different and can be found here.

Our publications work to a template, so we’re unable to consider word counts outwith those stipulated. For example, we don’t feature ‘flash’ fiction of less than 1000 words.

What We Can’t Feature

Our readers know about contentious issues, swearing, violence and unpleasantness – they just don’t want to read about them in their “Friend”.

Strong stories and difficult situations can be considered, as long as there’s a positive resolution.

Cosy Crime

Many of our readers enjoy a murder-mystery. We wouldn’t feature a murder story ‘as it happens’, but our ‘cosy crime’ reads deal with the solving of the crime (without any mention of violence).

The ‘Long Reads’ in our Specials are often cosy crime stories.

When it comes to cosy crime, think ITV3 in the afternoons – Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse and Miss Marple-type mysteries.

Contemporary Serials, Series, and Pocket Novels

Of the two serials running concurrently in every weekly issue, one is always contemporary.

Our series, which comprise 30 instalments each of 800 words, have traditionally always been set in the present day. We welcome ideas for these, and are open to contemporary and historical ideas.

Our large-print pocket novels alternate between contemporary and historical stories, always of around 39,500 words.

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!