Monday, 22 November 2010

National Short Story Week

This week is National Short Story Week here in the UK. All flavours of short stories are being celebrated, from literary to flash, but I'm just going to talk about the ones close to my heart.

Yes, that's right... the truly terrific ... WOMEN'S MAGAZINE SHORT STORIES.

Womag short stories probably have the largest readership of any in the genre, yet they get the least press. They are carefully crafted, they have no wasted words, they are perfect to pick-you-up, to make you laugh, to make you think and sometimes to make you cry. They fulfil a need, in these busy days, for a tiny escape from the daily round.

Back in the early days of the Romantic Novelists' Association, women's magazine fiction editors were larger than life and lions in their field. [There is a whole chapter on the importance of the magazines in Fabulous at Fifty, well worth buying.] Writers of short fiction were lauded (as indeed they should be, she says with no ulterior motive, dear me, no). And yet the market for magazine fiction is now shrinking to make space for paying adverts and celebrity interviews.

Fortunately, some of our best known magazines are still buying good quality stories and still delivering them week after week for a ridiculously low price to a huge section of the buying public.

God bless 'em.

Psst... and on Wednesday this week (24th November) the inestimable People's Friend is publishing the first episode of my serial The Penny Plain Mysteries. Put it on your shopping list for the next four weeks.


Anonymous said...

Gotta say, Jan, I do love the way you just tell it like it is, cut to the meat of the matter, lay it on the line - you go, girl!
We have a serious dirth of magazines offering short stories here in the US - for shame, for shame! - and I've canceled subscriptions left and right - and written letters and emails complaining and telling them why I no longer buy...
Have yet to receive first response...
So I've been playing with an idea - short stories written with an american voice, but set in the UK (well, we do venture over there from time to time, you know).
Meanwhile, so enjoyed this post. Good for you, raise a little hell, remind them 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'!
Love from this side,

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Jen. It is such a shame that there aren't more outlets - and that those there are don't get the recognition, simply because they are popular and people actually enjoy reading them.

Your idea sounds intriguing. Go for it!

Rosalind Adam said...

I love writing short stories and have had a number of womag short stories published. I do find it infuriating when I get comments from other writers who consider the women's magazine market to be an easy option, a simple style, a lesser genre. My only response to them is, 'Go ahead and try writing one if you think they're so easy!'

Congrats on your Penny Plain Mysteries series. Looking forward to reading it.

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Rosalind. Hope you enjoy the serial and good luck with your own writing too!