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Going to a Woman’s Weekly short story workshop held at their headquarters in Southwark Street, London, might not be the first choice of outing for some of the members of ninevoices, but the four of us who went reckoned that it was a fun day out, even if we didn’t learn anything startlingly new.

Woman’s Weekly fiction editor Gaynor Davies and writer/Writers Forum magazine agony auntie Della Galton talked us through what WW are looking for, what pitfalls to avoid and how to maximise our chances of success when submitting.

Short writing exercises followed, and the roomful of ladies – yes, no men dared to join us – read aloud our scrambled-together sentences. The criticism and praise given by Gaynor and Della was useful if brief – and occasional outbursts of hilarity and the overall atmosphere of non-competitive goodwill made the day a non-threatening experience.

A lot of credit must be given to our two warm-hearted, quick thinking and professional mentors for this; it can’t be easy balancing the varying demands and personalities of so many would-be WW contributors all coming to the workshop with different expectations.

One criticism we might make is that there were too many of us crammed around a very long table, and some attendees probably felt too far away from Gaynor and Della to engage and contribute as much as they might have done.

Would we go again? WW also offer workshops on twist in the tale and crime, so it’s a possibility. But it’s likely that even with these variations it would be basically going over the same ground. We ought to know the rules by now.

I’m glad I went. We all need to try something different sometimes, even if our heart sinks at being told for the nth time to avoid those apparently ruinous adverbs. It’s good to be reminded of what a story should be. And it’s rather inspiring to meet lots of enthusiastic and friendly women all prepared to have a go at something that isn’t as easy as you’d think…

 

 

 

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