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Writing for SparkLife FAQ

Writing for SparkLife FAQ

By Emily Winter

Every week at the SparkLife headquarters, we receive between 11 and 76 red wheelbarrows full of emails about contributing to SparkLife. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

I want to get a Sparkler post published on SparkLife! How do I do this?

Write a blog post. Edit it. Check it for spelling, grammar, and general "Is this interesting?"-ness. Once you're confident about all this stuff, email it once to contribute@sparknotes.com ALONG WITH YOUR SPARKNOTES NICKNAME.

What kind of submissions are you looking for?

It's hard to say, because some of our favorite submissions have been about totally unexpected topics, and from totally unexpected perspectives. But we know we love posts that are funny and unique and that make sense. We also love posts that are rich with details and examples, and make us feel like we know and can connect with the Sparkler, even if the Sparkler isn't writing about him/herself.

Because list-type posts are easy and fun to read in blog format, we publish many of those. Your post doesn't have to be a list, but do make sure it has a coherent theme and a strong opinion.

A strong opinion? TELL ME MORE.

Think of it this way: You shouldn't write a post called "16 Reasons Why Elbows Are the Worst Things Ever" that gives eight reasons why elbows stink, then changes gears and proclaims that elbows aren't that bad after all.

The most successful SparkLife writers are the ones who are aware of how readers perceive their voice. Your voice isn't necessarily a reflection of all your thoughts and beliefs; your voice should simply help you achieve your overall goal for the post. In our elbow example, you'd write in the voice of someone who REALLY hates elbows. The post wouldn't be as funny or interesting if you were lukewarm about elbows, right?

What are you NOT looking for?

We generally don't accept posts about a topic that the writer knows very little about. For example, an incoming freshman shouldn't write A Guide to Surviving Freshman Year because he/she hasn't been through it yet! Instead, this writer should consider A Guide to 8th Grade, and use some real-life experience to give the post flavor.

However, if a Sparkler is totally aware of how little he/she knows about a topic, and wants to write a satirical post about it, that's totally fine.

We're not too interested in soulful, sentimental posts about self-improvement, death, breakups, or love. Those topics are fair game, but if you want to write about them, be funny, not cheesy.

Additionally, we're REALLY not looking for unedited rants or rambles. The weakest posts we receive look more like word vomit than like a structured, coherent, publishable piece.

How long should my post be?

Pshhhh, heck if we know. We'll read up to 2,000 words, but posts that are THAT long usually get significantly cut down by an editor. Most posts are in the 400-600 word range, but some are longer, some are shorter, and they are that way for a reason. It's up to you to figure out the best length for the post you're writing.

Can I write an "A Day in the Life" Post?

Well, you can, but we're accepting very few of these posts because so many days have been written about. We recommend looking at former A Day in the Life posts and asking yourself if your day is really that different. If the only difference between your day and a published Sparkler's day is that yours involves petting a cat for 15 minutes and going to sports practice after school, you should probably write something else.

However, if you want to take an established format and be funny with it, by all means, go for it.

Can I write a "My Crush Is..." Post?

Yes, but keep in mind that a ton of these posts already exist, too. Click on the "my crush is..." tag to check out older posts and see if your crushes are already accounted for. If so, you might want to write something else. Who knows, you could be the next series trendsetter!

What's going on with that "What It's Like to Live/Travel To" series?

Miss Marm used to edit these; now Chelsea does. We try to publish one a week, but sometimes we get lazy/forget about them. We will try to stop being lazy and forgetful.

I want to write a series. That's NOT A QUESTION, SPARKITORS. I WANT MY OWN SERIES.

You're always welcome to propose a series, but Sparkitors are not likely to give you a series if you've never written before. We need proof of your genius! If you do propose a series, you should definitely send your first post for the series along with it.

Because there's only three of us, we aren't able to give every Sparkler a series. We look for Sparklers who are reliable, enthusiastic, witty, and, above all, excellent writers.

Do you Sparkitors have any pet peeves about submissions?

We're so happy we asked!!! BECAUSE WE DOOOOOOOO! Specifically...

  • 'Single quotes' are NOT a suitable replacement for "double quotes." Please only use them when appropriate, which is when "there's a 'quote' within a quote."
  • Keep that punctuation inside the quotes, people. We know you do it differently in other parts of the world, like Mars, but this is how we roll here in SparkTown, USA.
  • Bragging. It's totally cool to write about your battle with your best friend for valedictorian of your high school, but have a sense of humor about it! We can tell when you're fishing for compliments (because we're experts at it).

How long will it take for an editor to get back to me about my work?

We try to get back to you as quickly as possible, but sometimes that's not very quickly at all. BUT now that we've written and published this article, our OFFICIAL RULE, which we'll try to be much better about adhering to, is that we'll get back to you within two weeks. *frantically responds to messages that are 15 days old*

If I get rejected, YOU'RE A JERKHEAD! And can I resubmit?

If an editor tells you that your post would be promising with some revisions, feel free to work on it and resubmit it. If not, you are definitely welcome to submit again, but you should probably submit a different post.

I'm a terrible writer, I hate writing, and writing is for bed-wetters. Are there any other ways for me to get involved in SparkLife?

Why yes! You can send in artwork or pictures you've taken for publication on an open thread or Cute Thing of the Week. You can send us music suggestions for The Committee of Cool, ideas for Awesome Thing of the Week, answers to The Think Tank, blog post ideas, or any other suggestions. Our email address is contribute@sparknotes.com. We want to hear from writers and non-writers alike. It's your ideas, thoughts, and suggestions that make SparkLife worthy of its own amazing academy!

Got any other questions? We'll try to answer them in the comments!

Topics: The Internets
Tags: sparkler posts, writing, faqs, how to write

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