By The Seventh Wave

We hosted a Zoom info session earlier this month sharing seven tips on submitting your strongest work to The Seventh Wave. Below is the list of things that our selection committee looks for in the work that you submit to us for publication:

  • We look for work with “connective tissue.” For this first tip, we shared what our Senior Prose Editor Briana Gwin said she looks for when reading submissions: “I’m interested in work that functions as connective tissue: between genres, between languages, between organisms, between the micro and the macro, between the individual and the collective; I’m interested in exploring the ways we can step outside of ourselves even while interrogating our own interiorities; I’m interested in telling the same story a hundred different ways; I’m interested in beginning with the fifth paragraph; I’m interested in work that tugs at the heart and sways the mind.” This is one editor’s take on the type of work that interests us, but “connective tissue” is certainly something that our entire team is searching for: work that is connective, and work that is collective.
  • We look for work that comes from the lives experience. During an interview between our Executive Director Joyce Chen and author Jacqueline Woodson, an audience member asked Jaqueline how she creates characters who resonated so deeply with the audience member, despite the fact that the character came from a different background than that audience member. Jacqueline’s response, which she paraphrased from Black women writers who have come before her, was: “In the specificity is the universal.” We feel this is the most succinct way to describe the type of work we’re looking for: work that tugs at the fabric of culture through the personal; work that could only come from you and your experience living in the world today.
  • We look for voice-driven work that unpacks language. This is a mouthful, which is part of our point: we are looking for work that unpacks itself, interrogating the words we use and why we use them. We want work that could only have been written by you, because your voice on the page is that distinct. This is to say that we’re interested in work that really digs into the naming and unnaming of things, as well as the unnameable things.  
  • We welcome rough drafts, but not careless writing. This is one of the most important items to be aware of for a few reasons. One, we are seeking writers who are looking to work with editors, as we pair you with two editors who will guide you through an intimate editorial process from selection to publication. (If you’re wondering how rough a draft can be, think of it this way: we want you to have done enough work on your draft that you know where you want to take it, though you might need help getting there.) Second, we say “not careless writing,” because the shape you send your draft in tells us how much time you’ve spent with your own work, so please try to send us work that has been proofread. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but there is a difference between work that is a bit messy and work that is, well, a mess. 
  • We look for work that takes us somewhere new or somewhere newly. Our calls for submissions are about social issues, which means they are often topics that have been written about time and again. Politics, dangerous bodies, rebellious joy, who gets to belong: we are adding to these historical conversations with each issue. As such, we’re looking for work that either takes us somewhere new, or work that takes us somewhere familiar in a new way. Oftentimes, this lies in the voice of the piece, as well as the perspective. Meaning, in you. You are often the nuance we’re looking for.
  • We look for work that utilizes form to empower content. When we shared this on Zoom, we may have said, “Shoutout to the poets in the room.” We often get a lot of poetry that breaks the rules, which is the kind of work we like, but writers that break the rules need to be aware of what this new form is doing and why. We are looking for work, be it prose, poetry, or somewhere in between, that is searching in its form. We want work that crosses boundaries and borders, that blurs the line between lines that need to be blurred. We want you to take risks. We want to give you the permission you need to empower your work, whether or not it utilizes or breaks traditional forms. 
  • We look for work that plants questions in the readers’ minds. We love work that reimagines the worlds we live in, showing us the way in which worlds can heal (or how they fall apart). We’re looking for work that builds worlds, but we’re not looking for work that tries to solve the world’s problems. In poetry, this can look like “tying a bow” on the end of a poem, and in prose, this can look like “throat clearing.” In both instances, the writer is getting in their own way. Our editors are here to help show you where this might exist in your work, but we also feel this is often helpful to hear: we’re less interested in the answers you give, and more interested in the questions your work poses. It can sometimes be helpful to think of the questions you’re asking as seeds your planting in a reader’s mind.

We hope you find some of this helpful, either for submitting to us or to another magazine. If you have any questions about these items, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at submit@seventhwavemag.com.

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