Katy Terrega’s book, It’s A Dirty Job…Writing Porn For Fun And Profit! Includes Paying Markets!, reminded me of my own secret experiences as a writer of confession stories — stories for which I got paid. Did I sell my very first confession story? No. In fact, the first couple stories were flatly rejected without a word. Then, for some unknown reason, I thought, maybe it’s because I’m using my actual name: “Russ Heitz.” Maybe they don’t accept confession stories that are written by men. After all, ninety-nine percent of all confession stories have a first person female narrator. And how could a man possibly know how a woman feels about anything?
When I started using the genderless “R. L. Heitz” on the first page of every manuscript, the Macfadden checks started rolling in. All were made out to “R.L. Heitz.”
A large percentage of confession stories are about conflicted relationships. Most of my stories, however, were basically suspense stories that had a first person female narrator as its protagonist. The conflicts I wrote about included stalking, arson, bad cops, perverted priests, witchcraft, drug smuggling, etc. The list of conflicts that affect women is endless. You can find them every day in your hometown newspaper.
One of the nice things about confession stories is that they can be about nearly any topic as long as it’s dramatic, as long as it has lots of action and cliff hangers, and as long as the heroine becomes better, stronger, happier and, most of all, a more Independent Woman by the end of the story.
Do the confession mags pay well? No, not by today’s standards. Three to five cents a word is still the going rate, sometimes less, depending on the magazine. But, hey, when you can sell two or three stories a month, which I did for awhile, it adds up. In fact, the money I made selling confession stories helped pay off the mortgage on my house. That’s a worthwhile goal for anyone. Writing confessions also taught me how to write suspense stories. And becoming a better writer — a writer who is paid for his work — is what we’re all striving for, right?
So just remember that old saying: confessions are good for the soul. And try it. You might like it.
Russ Heitz, www.russheitz.com