My name is Linda Lewis, sometimes known as Catherine Howard.
I’ve been writing full-time for a number of years. I began by signing up for a Writers Bureau course which led me to writing articles about tropical fish for magazines in the UK, South Africa and the USA.
Nowadays, apart from my column in Writers’ Forum, I concentrate more on short stories. My main markets are woman’s magazines (My Weekly, Yours and so on).
Some writers think that this means writing the same kind of story, over and over again (they usually mean boy meets girl romances). Happily this is not the case. If it were, I would have stopped years ago. The stories are actually quite varied. To name an example, as well as the weekly magazine, Take a Break publish a magazine called Fiction Feast every month. Apart from a few puzzles, all it contains is fiction – no celebrities, no ‘real life confessions,’ no adverts. Stories can be any length from seven hundred to six thousand words. In one issue you might find fantasy, ghost stories, straightforward romances, crime, thrillers, humour, stories about relationships and others with twist endings.
As Fiction Feast is mainly read by women it’s easy to assume that they only want stories where the main character is female – but that is not the case. Some of the stories are written from a male point of view.
It’s not just Fiction Feast either, have a look the next time you’re at the newsagent if you don’t believe me. My theory, borne out by sales, is that it’s actually easier to sell male viewpoint stories as far fewer of those are actually submitted.
Like many things that are worth doing, writing is a skill. I’ve written hundreds of stories and have lost count of how many I’ve sold. Basically, it all comes down to numbers – the more you write, the easier it gets.
Last year I discovered that many writers struggle to come up with enough plots so to help them, I took time out and wrote a book. It’s called The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas. Using lots of examples and exercises, it teaches writers how to find their own ideas, simply by asking lots of questions.
Ideas are everywhere, all you need to know is where to look for them.