“If you improvise a riff and the crowd immediately reacts to it, you know you’re on to something.”
Thank you for your interest in Writers at Large and possibly becoming a guest contributor to Riff. We are looking for writing that explores our topics in such a way as to inform and transform the reader.
We believe, even in this day of the “ten-minute read,” that crafted language remains the most profoundly elevated skill possible for our species. In some ways, we now have a greater responsibility to find that “sweet spot” between immediacy and craft. We’d love to see posts that compel the reader to “riff” on what you have written, whether by appealing to emotion, sharing experience, spurring ideas, or inspiring creativity.
What does that mean, exactly?
Social media and digital publishing provide an unprecedented opportunity for writers to reach readers quickly and directly. Readers can respond, not just with comments, but by expanding context and triggering a larger dialogue. Readers can become writers themselves, “riffing” with a whole new piece on the same topic, a related idea, or personal angle.
So, in addition to finding pieces that skip, dance, and jump, we are looking for original concepts, compelling arguments, personal experiences, and / or high-quality writing to inform and transform the reader.
Please take some time to review this entire page — it should answer any questions you have about what kind of content we’re looking for and how our submission process works.
BROAD THEMATIC FOCUS OF RIFF
Stranger than Fiction
- Nature Writing
- Travel Writing / Global Voices
- Incredible Stories
- Heroic Memoirs
- Real-Life Crime Stories
- Animal Stories
- Tales of Survival
- Food Writing
- Inner Discovery
For the sake of argument
- Persuasive Essays
- Political Writing and Propaganda
- Literary Criticism
- Chautauqua / Soapboxes
- Marketing and Promotion
- Source Checking
LET THERE BE LIGHT
- Spiritual Writing
- New Age
- Classics: Blake, Milton, John Donne, etc.
- Myths and Totems
- Scientific Writing
- Philosophical Underpinnings
- Cosplay and Videogames
- Comic Books / Cartoons
- Literary Film and TV
- Jokes and Comedy
- Soap Opera Writing
- Celebrity Writing
- Epistolary Writing
- Fairy Tales
- Gender / Orientation
- Literary Art
- Ethnic / Cultural
- Poker Tales
- The Language of Math
- Computer Language
- Performance Art
The Super Power of Language
- Learning Disabilities
- Outreach to Kids
- Literacy and EASL
- Veterans’ Writing
- Health and Writing
- Riff Causeway (e.g., “Libraries Under Siege,” “Indie Bookstores vs. Amazon,” “Impact of Racial Bias on Literature,” etc.)
- Book Analysis and Discussion
- Vlog Hosting
- On-Line Awards
- Songs / Songwriters
- Spotlights on Literary Nonprofits
- Live Readings
- Live Book Clubs
- Peer Critiques
- Testimonials and Recommendations
- Readers’ Favorites
- MLK Day (Jan)
- Ground Hog Day (Feb)
- Patrick’s Day (Mar)
- Earth Day (Apr)
- Memorial Day (May)
- Father’s Day (June)
- Back to School for Many (Aug)
- Banned Books Week (Sept)
- Halloween (Oct)
- Veteran’s Day (Nov)
- Christmas / Hanukkah (Dec)
- Any Holidays or Special Awareness Days / Weeks / Months
- Authors’ Birthdays / Tributes / Memorials
walk the talk
- Skill Sets
- Writing tools
- Technical Writing
- Teaching Creative Writing Live and On-Line
- Forms and Formulas
- Featured Agent / Bloggers
- Nonprofit Consultants
- Finding an Agent
- Conducting Research
- Editing & Revision
- Small Presses & Magazines
- Reading Like a Writer
SUBMISSION LENGTH/WORD COUNT
Note that RIFF is a blog, not a journal for poetry or fiction. We are looking for work that engages the reader in dialogue, as opposed to showcasing a work of art.
Please aim for a submission with a length of 1000-2800 words, whether original, reprint, or repost. Some topics may call for longer articles of 3500-5000, so we can divide the article into shorter installments (we’ll work with you on this).
Don’t sacrifice depth for the sake of brevity. We don’t enforce a strict word count, but most articles will fall in the 1,000-3500 word range, with an average of 2500 words. Instead of trying to hit a specific word count, please focus on clear, in-depth writing that speaks to readers of different levels and motivations. It’s better to over-explain than under-explain and leave some readers in the dark. Our editing team can also tighten your post in a way that might not be immediately obvious to you as the “immersed” writer.
POINT OF VIEW/VOICE/AUDIENCE
You may use any POV that best serves your post, whether first person (using words like “I,” “me,” or “my”), 2nd person (“You,” “yours”), or 3rd person (“He,” “She,” “They”).
You may write from the standpoint of a conversational, educational / authoritative, experiential, personal, and / or literary resource on the topic.
Develop a recognizable voice suitable to your target audience and stay consistent.
Write to an audience of educated, thinking, and / or artistic individuals who may or may not know anything about your chosen topic.
Take the most direct route in your writing by using your natural voice. Avoid unnecessary filler words and “empty” adjectives and adverbs that exemplify personal opinion (e.g., “stupendous,” “magnificently”).
STYLE AND FORMAT
Add bulleted lists to help break up dense copy chunks where detailing factual points. Numbered lists should be formatted as number + period.
Always include a conclusion so that the reader feels satisfied.
PROOFREADING AND ACCURACY
Please double-check your work to make sure there are no errors. As a guest writer, we’re relying on you to be the expert of your experience, whether personal, artistic, or academic. Always double-check your work BEFORE you submit.
how to submit
Submit via email or upload directly through this site.
The upload form can be found here: https://writersatlarge.com/riff/query-riff/
Other information about images, sources, linking, and more can be found elsewhere in these guidelines.
Please feel free to include “extras” when such content suitably enhances your post: audio files, YouTube links, cartoons, illustrations, literary clips, or images/charts. We encourage you to do what’s best for your work to enhance the reader’s experience.
Contributors are strongly encouraged to provide one or more illustrations for their post. This may be in the form of photographs, graphics or a cartoon.
Photos and illustrations can be in .png or .jpg format, but a compressed .jpg is preferred. GIFs are acceptable as .gif.
The editorial team reserves the right to curate which images are, or are not, included on our website.
Images submitted for the primary or featured image should be sized 1920px x 1280px at no more than 150dpi.
You must own the rights to any writing, clips, pictures, videos, or images that you include as part of your overall post unless they come from an open share site (e.g., YouTube, Pexels, etc.). When including images, or screenshots, please cite the source as: “Image source” and hyperlink that text with the page where you found the image. If you have a photo requiring credit, please include the photographer’s name. If you are the photographer/artist, then please include a release for us to use the image.
It is essential that Riff / W@L has permission to publish the image if not from an open source site, either through a Creative Commons license or through explicit written permission from the copyright owner. Just because someone granted you one-time use does not mean we can automatically assume it has been extended to us. If from the Internet, please provide a link to the source, with evidence of its “free to use” status.
Between the Lines
Articles must be your original work, even if you’re submitting a reprint or repost.
If the article is a post from one of your guest writers, let us know the status off the permissions usage.
RIGHT TO EDIT/ACCEPT
Our Editorial Team reserves the right to edit your article, including grammar, spelling, and formatting. If a direct quote contains errors, we reserve the right to interject “sic.”
Submissions must meet our editors’ quality standards for publication. Our team may modify / edit your entry to make it better conform to our editorial tastes and thematic goals. We will also update it in the future for accuracy and comprehensiveness if needed.
Editors reserve the right to reject contributions at their discretion, even if said post has been solicited by us.
USE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Personal information about other people such as last names, email addresses, and personal websites are not permitted unless we have explicit guarantees from said individuals and that the inclusion of such information is needed. You may, however, mention your own website or contact information in the bio section to encourage cross pollination between sources.
CITING SOURCES AND DATA
We expect data, quotations, and outside content referenced in the article to be honest, accurate, and reliable. Note: All data should have originated within the last five years.
You may link or republish your guest post to your own blog, LinkedIn, Medium, Facebook, or Inbound.org afterward. Please mention us if republished with a link to our site. We wish to increase traffic between all contributors and W@L / Riff.
CROSS PROMOTION WITHIN RIFF/W@L
Our editors reserve the right to include “calls-to-actions” postings, and link similar content or timely ideas, including, but not limited to, other posts, programs, websites, email newsletters, e-books, and/or downloadable content.
What we DOn’t accept
We do not tolerate offensive, false, sexist, racist, ageist, or inaccurate posts.
Poetry or Fiction
We are not a journal or site for publishing poetry or fiction.
No articles that are only promotional for you, your creative work, company, or organization, in other words, a commercial. We do, however, want very much to help inform our readers about you or your work, organization, website, project, and /or blog
We will not tolerate plagiarism. Be sure to properly attribute quotes or ideas that are not your own. Unattributed use of other people’s work is unacceptable and harms not only the original author, but your credibility, as well as the reputation of the blog.
We will not accept posts or sections of a post that air dirty laundry, embed “gotcha”s, name-call, or exchange “tit for tat” with those whom you disagree. Please avoid anything that is overly critical of private individuals, groups, or companies that could draw claims of defamation and liability. We are not a blog for investigative journalism.