Issue led stories are controversial – or can be? Should we write them? Especially for magazines. Or should we stick to nice safe subjects like weddings and car boot sales and summer balls. Not that I’ve got anything against these subjects, I think I’ve sold stories about all of them – well possibly not a summer ball, must put that one on my list!
But – and I think I might have mentioned this – I also like writing about issues. Gritty issues. My students often ask me if there are any subjects that are taboo for magazines and the answer is that, no, I don’t think so. Well maybe some subjects are taboo for some magazines, but I’ve written lots of issue led stories. I’ve written (and sold) stories about: abortion, agoraphobia, anorexia, alcoholism (did I mention I just wrote a book about alcoholism called Ice and a Slice). Check it out here. You can even read the first chapter on the previous blog. I will shut up about Ice and a Slice soon, I promise!
I’ve also written about the death of pets or people, drugs, sexual abuse, nervous breakdowns, cancer, prisons – I’ve even slipped the odd quite saucy story past a magazine editor!
I think the key to writing issue led stories and selling them to magazines is to do it sensitively and also to give some hope. If you write about a gritty issue and then give it a really sad ending this might not be so successful.
You can of course write stories with more downbeat endings for competitions. But don’t be depressing even if you’re being downbeat.
I’ve just had one of my issue led stories (about anorexia) published on Morgen Bailey’s blog. If you’d like to check that out, please do take a look. Click here. It’s Flash Fiction so very short. In fact, I think that Flash Fiction works very well if you use a strong, gritty subject.
I’d love to know what other writers think.