(For Podcast-only and “Between The Lines” submissions, please click the PODCAST tab.)
“The experience was (I imagine, only) like one’s first bungee jump — a long, somewhat tedious wait, followed by a rush of excitement, exhilaration and gratification of some primitive need, followed by gradual calming, followed by wondering why I was ever inclined to do it. Yet thinking it might be an OK thing to do again.” — Stephen J. Brown
650 is interested in short essays on specific topics to be read aloud, by the author, at staged readings throughout the year. The pieces can be original, or can be excerpted or adapted from your earlier work. Submissions are evaluated by an editorial committee* of seven professional writer/editors, and the live event readings are professionally recorded and archived on the website. They may then be featured in our podcasts, broadcasts, and journals but remain yours to publish again somewhere else if you so desire. Submissions should be no more than 650 words, enabling you to read the piece aloud in under five minutes.
• All submissions should be in double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman type, with one-inch margins, complete on two pages. The author’s name, address, telephone number, and email address should appear at the top of the first page with the total word count displayed beside the title. Please include A 150-200 word biography (with weblinks, if desired) and a color head shot for programs, posters, and social media. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pssst! For some tips on writing an effective short essay, GO HERE.
Upcoming Topics and Deadlines
650 selects broad topics that encourage a range of expression. If you’d like to suggest a topic, please contact us.
PLEASE NOTE the dates listed are SUBMISSION deadlines; the live staged readings will take place roughly eight weeks later; the actual show date will be announced when confirmed with the venue. IMPORTANT: At present, our live events are produced in the New York metro area and lower Hudson River Valley. IF SELECTED, CAN YOU TRAVEL TO A VENUE IN THESE AREAS?
From A to LGBTQ
650 celebrates Gay Pride month with a series of personal essays on coming up, coming out, and coming to terms. Do you have a story about a friend, parent, child, or colleague? Did you idolize the “wrong” celebrities while growing up? When did you have “the talk” with your parents, or your best friend? What were your “straight dates” like? Whom did you take to the prom? Who won your heart — or broke it? Funny, awkward, thrilling—Tell your story. • SUBMISSIONS CLOSED / SHOW DATE: June 11, 2017 • Sarah Lawrence College
America is created and sustained by countless people born elsewhere who came here to create a better life for themselves and their families. Let’s hear your immigrant story about the struggles and successes of a grandparent, neighbor, or friend. We’re not looking for angry OpEds about #45, so please keep it literary vs. political. • SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 1, 2017 / Show date and venue to be determined.
Return to your fondest—or most harrowing—memories with a personal story about marching band or mean girls, bus rides or best friends, homeroom or home grown. The cafeteria, the pop quiz, the field trip, the school play . . . Let’s hear about those wonderful and awful days—from algebra to zits (or even the reunion!). • SUBMISSION DEADLINE: November 1, 2017 / Show date and venue to be determined.
It’s never easy starting a new job, especially if you’re a kid. Tell us about your best or—even better—your worst summer jobs. Did it involve physical labor, low pay, or an embarrassing costume? What life lessons did you learn that summer? What friends did you make? How did you spend your hard-earned money? Let’s hear from the babysitters, toilet cleaners, burger flippers, dog walkers, camp counselors, pool skimmers, pizza drivers, lawn mowers, and ditch diggers. • SUBMISSION DEADLINE: February 1, 2018 / Show date and venue to be determined.
Head Shots and Video
Your photo needn’t be shot by a professional, and most people do fine with a smart-phone snap (please avoid the selfie and ask someone for help). The photo should be horizontal and uncropped, showing you from mid-chest up, as shown, with even lighting (no harsh shadows) on your face, and a background that doesn’t distract. NOTE: A 4″ x 6″ image at 300 dpi (dots per inch) is acceptable for printing (or approximately 1,200 x 1,800 pixels—dimensions shown in the photo’s file info on both Mac and PC). Need some guidelines on what makes an acceptable headshot? Click here. Or here. Or here. Or maybe even here.
Looking for guidelines on what to wear—and what not to wear—on camera? Click here.
How To Send Us Your Work
We prefer submissions via email and your manuscript must be in one of the following file forms: .doc, .rtf, .pdf, .docx, or .txt. Please email your submission to email@example.com
If you have any questions or encounter technical difficulties, please contact us.
Timing • Submissions may be sent to us at any time, year-round.
Response Time • Our response time varies from one to four weeks.
Submission Fees • We do not charge fees to read submissions and are strongly committed to featuring good writing.
Audio Prose • Submissions may be fiction or nonfiction but should take a storytelling form. Audio prose submissions must be in MP3 format and may be up to five minutes long.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Some Tips on Writing for 650
We’re most interested in true personal stories, and 650 is open to anyone with a good tale to tell. A few years ago Hugo Lindgren shared this excellent advice for submitting a “Lives” essay to the New York Times:
• More action, more details, less rumination. Don’t be afraid of implicitness. And the old Thom Yorke line: “Don’t get sentimental. It always ends up drivel.”
• If it reads like it would make for a Hallmark TV episode, don’t submit it.
• Meaning (or humor, or interestingness) is in specific details, not in broad statements.
• Write a piece in which something actually happens, even if it’s something small.
• Don’t try to fit your whole life into one story.
• Don’t try to tell the whole story.
• Do not end with the phrases “Looking back now . . . ” or “I realized that . . . ”
• Tell a small story — an evocative, particular moment.
• Better to start from something very simple that you think is interesting (an incident, a person) and expand upon it, rather than starting from a large idea that you then have to fit into an short essay. For example, start with “the day the Santa Claus in the mall asked me on a date” rather than “the state of affairs that is dating in an older age bracket.”
• Where, exactly, did it start?
• Write past what you think the end of the story is. (Hat tip to Raymond Carver.)
• Do not make it about illness or death, unless that is the story you have to tell.
• Try an Oblique Strategy.
• Go to the outer limit of your comfort zone in revealing something about yourself.
• Embrace your own strangeness.
• If you can’t write it, try telling it.
Oh, and here’s the address for submitting your essay: info@Read650.com
*About the Editorial Committee
Rachel Aydt is a freelance writer/editor who’s worked on staff at various magazines including American Heritage and Cosmopolitan. An Assistant Professor at the New School University since 2002, her features and essays appear in anthologies and publications including Parents, the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, the Huffington Post, Redbook, and others.
Laura Shaine Cunningham is a “trans genre” author of books, plays and articles, best known for her memoir Sleeping Arrangements and her play, Beautiful Bodies. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the New York Observer and many other publications.
Angela Davis Gardner, professor emerita at North Carolina State University, is a novelist who has won more than thirty awards for her teaching and writing. She has also taught at Meredith College, UNC- Chapel Hill, and Guilford College and has worked as a journalist and editor. Her critically acclaimed novels include “Butterfly’s Child,” “Plum Wine,” and “Felice”.
Joseph Goodrich has worked extensively in the theater as an actor and playwright, and his plays have been produced in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Portland (Maine), New Orleans, Chicago, and at colleges and universities across the country. His work runs the gamut from opera libretti to comic books.
Steven Lewis Is a novelist and a columnist at Talking Writing, Literary Ombudsman for Writers Read, and a member of the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute faculty. A longtime freelancer, his work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, LA Times, Ploughshares, Spirituality & Health and many others. His new novel, Take This, has just been published by Codhill Press.
David Masello is executive editor of Milieu, a national print magazine about interior design. Previously, he was senior editor at Town & Country magazine and deputy editor of 24thLetter.com, a startup website devoted to international news and culture. In addition to staff positions at Country Living, Art & Antiques, Travel & Leisure, Departures, and Avenue magazines, he was the founding editor in chief of The Out Traveler and was a hardcover nonfiction editor at Simon & Schuster.
Honor Molloy is a playwright and novelist and the author of the autobiographical novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage. She wrote the libretto for The Three Christs a music / theatre collaboration with Corey Dargel. Her dramatic work has been produced by New Georges, Clubbed Thumb, the Public Theatre, HERE, Dixon Place, Chicago’s Seanachai Theatre Company, Sydney’s Mardi Gras Arts Festival, and Inishbofin Arts Festival, among others.