Monday, 27 January 2014

Review: Writing Magazine (February 2014)

In an attempt to bulk up the Part Time Novelist blog, I'm going to start adding reviews of my recent reads and other bits and pieces I've found useful/interesting/helpful/or otherwise.

Today, I want to talk about Writing Magazine. According to its website, Writing Magazine is:
For every writer, from beginner to advanced, whether you write for pleasure or publication, and whatever your writing preferences, Writing Magazine – the UK's biggest and bestselling magazine for writers – has something to help you.
(Quote from Writing Magazine)

This is the first monthly writing magazine I've purchased. There were a few other publications on offer, but I chose Writing Magazine for its attractive cover, good quality printing and because it seemed the most easily approachable it terms of content. As it says on its website, the magazine is aimed at writers of different levels and experience and was a less daunting prospect for a first-time reader like myself. 

(Image from Writers Magazine)

I certainly found it an interesting mixture of levels, from how to start writing your first novel right through to improving your revenue and how to respond to interviews about your work. Some articles weren't of much interest to me, either being too far beyond where I am right now or a little bit behind. There were however, plenty of articles that I found interesting. 

Lucie Whitehouse's article on suspense came from Whitehouse's position as a psychological suspense writer. Although the article was focused on thriller writing in particular, it was by no means restrictive and Whitehouse applied her advice to all aspects of fiction writing, emphasising the use of a Three Act Structure and the importance of planning to improve the introduction of plot twists.

Tracy Fells piece on planning aimed to link the processes used in fiction writing with non-fiction articles. While the non-fiction element doesn't apply to me personally, the writing is fairly broad, focusing on the elements of planning first, which is always a useful pointer for beginners. Again, we can see links to Three Act plot writing as well a few important writing rules which I may have been forgetting about before now

There were a few different 'editing' sections, including a kind of brain-teaser style section in which three different lines are presented to 'test' the reader on their editing skills. The Under the Microscope section takes a 300-word snippet from applicants (in this case, James McCreet) to be picked apart by magazine staff, with little red additions and vicious cuts. These pieces give insight into not only what to edit, but why to edit, with useful editor notes that explain the thinking process behind each amendment. 

As I mentioned in my last post, entering competitions is a good way to bulk up Writing CVs. Writing Magazine offers various competitions based on short-stories and poetry, as well as giving information about larger external competitions. They publish wining entries in the magazine (and on their website) and offer cash prizes of varying sizes to winners. Hopefully, I'll be entering this one in the next month or so. 

The Market section also had some very helpful signposts to independent publishers, competitions and other industry links that will be useful in the future.

I'd definitely recommend Writing Magazine to new writers, especially for those just finding their feet, even if that means you haven't written anything yet! If anything, I wish I'd started reading when I first started The Book, as there was a lot of advice and some beginners rules that would have helped me get some things right first time around. The only point I would stress is: be prepared to be a little frightened! The magazine and the people it features certainly did nothing to ease my worries about my own lack of preparation. I'll be looking for it again next month as well as trying out some of the other publications to see how they compare. 

Overall I'd give Writing Magazine 8/10, given how well it applies to my current needs.
(And also because I have nothing else to gauge it on...)

Writing Magazine is available in store and online, priced at £3.75. It is also available on subscription from its website.

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