How you can start a Cipher article before the school year even starts, because you are a badass
the short story:
Email Sara at email@example.com with an idea.
the long story:
Interested in turning your weirdest, coolest, saddest, or most mind-blowering summer/life experience into a Cipher article?
Writing for Cipher works as a process, where you work with an editor to help you find the angle, story, and research method for your piece, and then intensively revise it over several drafts.
Read this page for an idea of what we're looking for and some examples!
A non-comprehensive list of experiences that you could make into a Cipher article:
- Specific stories: you met someone really cool, you had a crazy life-threatening or soul-crushing or soul-uplifting experience
- Journalistic investigations of a particular event, issue, pattern, person, place, etc.
- Knowledge only you can drop. Did you complete a fascinating summer research project that you want to share with the world?
- Experimentations with different medium (satire, personal narrative, comics, photo essays, reviews, etc.)
A non-comprehensive list experiences that you probably could not make into a Cipher article, unless you are a genius or otherwise hypnotize us:
- Archetypal stories of your personal growth abroad/ on your hiking trip. Writing about what you experienced and learned is great, but not if the only message is “Other cultures are different than ours” or “Hiking is hard.”
- Academic-sounding explanations of a topic—don’t just try to explain the topic as though writing a sociology paper. You can get into the issues and problems involved in the topic without using academic language and format.
Some grant-based/ research-based/ internship-based articles that have worked well:
Write How You Want To by David Andrews
The article is a narrative story that makes us care about Parra’s poetry through following David’s connection to it. It’s well-written—David pokes fun at his own poetic assumptions and weaves in Parra’s poetic voice. The article also incorporates important parts of the history of Chile, poetry, and David’s personal experience there.
Life in the Rio Grande Valley by Maggie O’Brien
The topic (experiences of people living on the US-Mexico border) is already relevant to our political climate and things happening today. The writing complements the photos to give us a picture into what was going on, complete with solid research and interviews. If you’re a good photographer, photo essays are a great way to get published in Cipher without writing a behemoth article.
Ute Prayer Trees by Nate Goodman
Nate found both a complex issue and intriguing local story in his summer research.
American Anatomy by Bridget O’Neill
This is an article about Bridget’s internship with Congress, in which she uses details and specific memories to construct a larger picture about the state of American democracy.
The Price of Progress by Montana Bass
In this piece, Montana dives deep into the issue she worked on during a summer internship, while also constructing a character profile of her boss.