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Selling to the Confessions Market
by Julie Williams
I took up writing as a hobby when I came to
America from England ten years ago. With my children grown and living in the UK,
I finally had the time to pursue something I'd always enjoyed. At that time I
wrote mostly children's stories and a few short romances. I never thought of
writing for the confessions market until I heard Pat Byrdsong, (at that time)
the Editor of True Confessions speak at the Oklahoma Writers'
Federation Conference in 2004.
Pat opened my eyes to a world of possibilities
if I wanted to try it.
During her presentation, she made several
references to Peggy Fielding as a successful author who has written (and
continues to write) stories for this group of magazines. I found out that Peggy
had written a book on how to go about this subject, titled Confessing for
Money (Writing and Selling to the Secret Short Story Market).
I bought a copy and read it
Peggy has some wonderful tips in this book. I
followed them. I entered one story in a ByLine Magazine contest which
had a Confession genre category. The result, third place, showed me that I do
have what it takes to write a confession.
Buoyed by that success, I sent a different story
to one of the magazines Pat Byrdsong mentioned at the Conference and "Second
Chance" was accepted by True Experience for their fall 2005
It's a great thrill to know that many people
(and not just one judge) will get to read my story and, hopefully, learn from
Peggy says this is an important aspect of
writing for this market -- the fact that even if the person reading your story
cannot identify completely with the character, they can at least learn from the
character's experience and his/her choices. Should they ever be faced with a
similar scenario in the future, they will know which decision to
Although ideas come easily to me, along with
characters' names, at some point I do have to plot the storyline. Peggy has
plenty of tips on how to do this and more, and I particularly like her formula
for writing confessions. Wait until you see her illustration -- is it a shell,
is it a wave? No, it's Peggy's drawing of a confession! And this works for most
love stories, which also need their share of drama and conflict or else they are
My first sale gave me a high, but I didn't just
congratulate myself. I took Peggy's advice to start another right away rather
than wait to hear back. Sometimes it takes several months before the story
editor gets in touch. I was lucky - my response only took two weeks*.
In her book, Peggy also gives advice on
manuscript preparation, office equipment, and how to keep records, etc. It is
all useful information, and her tips for writing this genre, when used
frequently, will become second nature.
I guess I broke a few rules the first time
around, but I'm sure Peggy would say, "What are rules for if not to be broken?"
For instance, "Second Chance" is written from
the man's point of view whereas the majority of Confessions type stories are
from a woman's POV.
Secondly, it is set overseas, in Paris, and I've
found from reading the stories that most take place in the US.
However, following Peggy's formula, my main
character is pretty settled in his marriage but has made some bad decisions. He
is about to make another critical one when an event takes place that causes him
to think about his actions before it's too late.
But, staying true to the principles of these
magazines, my story is based on an actual experience that I had in France. If I
can turn a real-life event into a story, so can you.
Get Peggy's book and get writing.
© Copyright 2005, Julie Williams
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