A is for the Aspirations

you have and the achievement that will follow when you reach your goal of being published. A is also for affectation, so don’t use flowery words that hold up your story and delay the action.

B is for Background.

Characters don’t live in a void, so give them substance. B is also for balancing your story with a beginning, middle and end.

C is for Characters and Conflict.

Challenge your characters by giving them problems that show them as people and not puppets

D is for Dialogue,

which reveals more about your characters than pages of prose. Make it realistic, and avoid wooden sentences and trite one-liners.

E is the Empathy

you have with your characters. If you don’t feel sympathy for the problems they are facing, why should anybody else?

F is for Flashbacks

Many stories include them, and the trick is to filter in as much or as little as necessary to show why your characters act as they do.

G is for writer's Guidelines.

Take advantage if the magazine issues them, and don’t waste time sending in unsuitable material.

H is for Hope.

You never know what the day will bring, providing you keep up a steady output of stories.

I is for Ideas, Inspiration, Imagination.

The magic ingredients that turn your story into a winner. They can appear when least expected, so don’t forget to…

J Jot them down.

Mundane jobs such as ironing or gardening are a great source of thinking-time while you work, but ideas can be lost if you don’t record them. Use your 3B1 notebooks.

K is for Kindred spirits.

Cherish your writing friends. Nobody understands your frustrations the way they do. K is also for a Keen mind. A writer’s brain can’t remain stagnant. While there is something to write about, you will write.

L is for Luck.

Help yours along by being aware of changes. Fashion in fiction is constantly changing. For instance, your old jumble sale story could be revitalised by setting it at a car boot sale.

M is for Metaphors.

As with similes, invent your own and editors will love you. Original writing is a pleasure to read.

N is for the Names

you give your characters. Fit them to their ages, ethnicity, status and personalities. Character names give a clue to their identity.

O is for Optimism.

Oh boy, do we need this. It also refers to the sparkling opening to your story that makes a reader want to read more.

P is for Perseverance.

If you give up at the first hurdle, you will never know the delights of being a published author. It also stands for Pace, which ensures your story doesn’t flag.

Q is for the Questions

you should always be asking. Is this story feasible? Do the characters come to life on the page? Q is also for quotations, that can give you an idea for a story when you get stuck.

R is for Revising

as much as is necessary without tinkering so much that the life and soul disappears. But remember to take out all the repetitions, typos and mistakes!

S is for Suspense.

Don’t give everything away on page one. Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em wait, and make ’em think it was a cracking good story. S is also for your own unique writing style.

T is for Talent.

You never know if you have it until you sit down and write a story and then submit it. Be brave!

U is for Understanding

your characters. To write about fictional characters successfully a writer has to be a bit of a psychologist.

V is for Visual imagination,

your greatest asset. Some people call it day‑dreaming. Add to it a choice of a varied vocabulary.

W is for the Writing we love.

What else? Yes, the bonus of getting paid for it! And the essential ‘What If?’ questions that help shape your story from beginning to end.

X is for the X-ray vision

we all wish we had to see into an editor’s mind. Since we can’t, use all the aids that are there, such as reading plenty of published stories to see what’s current, and sending for magazine guidelines, until you reach the x-factor that is success.

Y is for YOU.

You alone can write the story you always dreamed of doing, and you alone can adapt and change it as much as you like. Then it will be you who is reaping the rewards by seeing your name in print and you can say you are a published author.

Z is for the Zeal

we put into our writing. It’s also for zodiac, when you reach for the stars, because in writing anything is possible.