“Beware using well-worn themes” - “Avoid predictable plots” – “avoid stereotypes”
These comments are taken from
magazine guidelines which if followed should make our job as writers easier. For
their part presumably editors hope that by issuing guidelines their job will
also be eased by reducing the amount of inappropriate submissions they receive.
Before writing I do my research. I
find it helps to immerse myself in previous issues until my thought processes
are attuned to what I believe the editor wants. It has to fit the house style,
reflect the right tone and uphold the publication’s ethos. (As well as being
interesting, entertaining, uplifting, etc)
But above all the story I write or
the article I pitch has to be new. It has to be original. Ooh, this is a tough
one. On the one hand it has to be something that I know from my research the
readers will like. But it is not good enough simply to reproduce what has gone
before. The challenge is to create something different. But not so diverse that
it moves beyond the parameters set out by the magazine’s editors.
It’s not easy: it is said
there are only seven stories in the world. It is dispiriting to receive a
rejection letter or email telling me that my beautifully crafted, cleverly
plotted, much loved tale is in fact a well-worn theme and one that has been
Oh well, back to the computer. There
are still six stories left to write.