Tuesday, 6 December 2011

What Magazine Editors Want for Christmas

A pair of Dalmatian puppies, one with a tartan bow round its neck, the other a red one. A Sellotape dispenser. The biggest bottle of Chanel No 5 available. A private audience with Colin Briggs. A box of Ferrero Collection 48 pieces (499 grams). A housekeeper.
Second to the above list, this is what this editor wants for Christmas. (Or, how to increase your chances of getting published in Vintage Script magazine.) 
All excerpts and references are from stories and articles published in the current edition of Vintage Script.
The X Factor
You know what it’s like—you read the first paragraph and you’re hooked. Take the opening lines of The Poppet by Lucy Charles: ‘Northamptonshire, 1649. He slumped in my doorway. Black against the autumn sky, his shape fell sack-like against the wall. The hens churred, but nothing else. We were at the edge of town. The few travellers were usually passing, not staying. He whispered: “Ann.”’ Intrigue. Imagery. Suspense. Lots of questions to be answered. Love it!
It could be an original idea—Deborah Fielding’s story Office at Night, 1940 is her interpretation of the Edward Hopper painting of the same name. Or a turn of phrase. Maybe a little-known subject (if you didn’t know Hannah Glasse was the original celebrity chef, you do now thanks to Michael Harwood), or a fresh perspective on a well-known topic (A Walk Round the Cathedral is Lynda Kempsey’s own personal tour of the nooks and crannies of Durham Cathedral). It’s got to be something you won’t find on Wikipedia.
Upbeat Subject Matter
Eclectic. Quirky. Uplifting. Insightful. That’s the word on the street about Vintage Script. This means that an article on the history of mirrors (see Michael Montagu’s And Now I See Through a Glass, Darkly) is going to have the edge on a study of childhood mortality in Victorian inner cities. Not that we don’t deal with serious subjects—we do. It’s just that our readers are looking for a bit of escapism and who can blame them?

Ability to Tell a Story

A good story has a beginning, middle and end and lots of thrills and spills in-between. As simple as that. (The same formula applies to articles.) Sadly, we’ve had to reject some really good writing simply because it lacked one of these elements—most frequently a strong ending. And endings that fizzle out impart the same sense of disappointment you get when you bite into a stale Digestive or suppress a sneeze.
Attention to Detail
A good grasp of grammar and presentation and the ability to follow submission guidelines really help. Read Vintage Script writer David Williams’ blog post Preparing for publication—you’ll find lots of tips on revising text and proofreading (albeit his novel, but the same principles apply).
A Bit of Flattery
It’s a really good idea to buy a copy of the magazine you are submitting to. Then you can work out all of the above for yourself and enjoy a lovely little literary treat to boot!
If All Else Fails…
…refer to the list in the introductory paragraph.
The deadline for submissions for the winter edition of Vintage Script is 13 December 2011.


  1. Thanks for the mensch, Emma. Another excellent posting - spot on.

  2. You're welcome, David, and thanks, glad you enjoyed it!