Write Funny, Win Money

August 22, 2019 § 10 Comments

Ever wondered how to get into McSweeney’s, the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs, the Belladonna, Slackjaw, or another prestigious humor site? It’s not easy, but it’s not hard—write something very funny, make sure it fits the venue’s tone, send it in.

Step one tends to trip us up. How can you write funny, on demand?

Writing comedy is a learned skill. Yes, some writers start with more talent than others, but it’s not talent that makes an essay hilarious. Humor comes from a great premise (that you thought up after discarding 50 similar-but-not-as-good ideas), a specific point of view (that took a couple of drafts to get to) and tight, focused writing with careful word choices (that took another few drafts to whittle out of the initial bloated, semi-funny word glob).

Here’s a chance to learn the skill, and maybe win some money and/or publish your own comedy writing.

Slackjaw, Medium’s most-read humor publication (90,000+ followers), wants to support humor writers—and aspiring humor writers—everywhere, with their first Humor Writing Challenge.

Most writing contests are set-it-and-forget-it. Send in your work and hope for the best. This one’s different. Participants in the contest will be pitching ideas (so they can choose the best/funniest one to write), getting peer feedback, and re-writing. An online community will provide support and direction to contestants. Even if you don’t have a burning desire to write comedy, this process can introduce you to collaborative idea development, and how to solicit and implement editorial ideas in your own work. Plus, you’ll have deadlines to generate some specific assignments, and motivation to rewrite and sharpen your work.

The judges panel includes comedy writers for The Onion, Comedy Central, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, etc, and there’s $2000 in cash prizes. Finalists will have their work considered for (paid) publication on Medium, too.

If you want to publish humor writing, or you need a kickstart on your autumn writing plan with a fun, supportive environment, consider signing up for Slackjaw’s Humor Writing Challenge.

Find out more and sign up here.


Allison K Williams is Brevity‘s Social Media Editor. Find her at Hippocamp Creative Nonfiction Conference this weekend, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram for choice bits of conference writing advice.

Solid Writing by Decent, Hard-Working Writers

July 9, 2013 § 4 Comments

Brevity is listed as one of “Five Literary Magazines That Restore My Faith in Publishing” in the latest issue of LitReactor.  Some nice words, indeed:

 Not flashy like McSweeney’s or highfalutin like The New YorkerBrevity offers a selection of solid writing on related topics by decent, hard-working writers. The site also offers book reviews and craft essays, so you can get your literary kicks in, too, if you have extra time on your hands. They also take submissions, so you know you will not always be reading the same old same old.

I love Brevity because the stories are short but well-done, and you can select a few to read or just one. Unlike print magazines that seem to require that I take a vacation just to read them, this online journal gives me all the quality with none of the guilt. I can read a story on my lunch break and still have time to finish my sandwich.

The Online Credibility Battle

April 22, 2009 § 1 Comment

.. Brevity editor Dinty W. Moore is giving way too many interviews:

Lyric and Laid Back at Silk Road

“The credibility battle is being won in many ways, by pioneer online journals that have remained very selective in the work they publish, by somewhat newer ventures like McSweeney’s and Narrative and Blackbird that have the funding and staffing to act like “real” magazines and draw in the star power, and by conventional print magazines that are opening up more and more online content. I suppose there are some tenure committees that still turn up their collective egghead noses at online publications, but most writers I know, and especially if they are younger, don’t carry that prejudice any more.”

Oh, and if you are in Boston this weekend, he is also teaching, reading, and accepting an award as part of Grub Street’s Muse and the Marketplace.

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