Do you have a story to tell? Guidelines for Winds & Waves contributors

Winds and Waves magazine

Winds and Waves magazine (W&W), is published 3 times a year, and aims to serve as a forum on human development for a worldwide network of readers. They include supporters, members and staff of the Institute of Cultural Affairs and affiliated groups as well as others interested in human development.

W&W is put together by a network of volunteers who solicit articles, mostly from readers like you. If you are considering writing for W&W, please read the following guidelines and  tips.

Types of articles

The following are some ideas for articles. This is not an exhaustive list. If you have a different kind of article to contribute, please let us know.

1. Features:  A reflective piece on an issue you are concerned about. Send 500 to 800 words for a one-page feature or 900 to 1200 words for a two-page feature. Include an illustration or photo, if available. For longer articles,  ask the Content Coordinator for a recommended word count.

2. How-to tips:  A this-is-how-to-do-it article on methods you have developed or used, for example, workshop techniques, conducting an interview or fund raising. Or it could be advice on a practical issue that people in your network are facing, for example, a software bug.

3. Book review:  Have you a book to recommend? Give a gist of its contents, highlight a few things, and say how it helped you. About 350 to 700 words.  Please read “Tips for book reviews” at the end of this document.

4. Interview:  A question and answer piece on someone you want to highlight for the advice, insights or historical accounts he/she has to offer, or for his/her accomplishments. Include a paragraph on the person’s background, with details such as age, occupation etc. and a photo.

5. Photo essay: A photograph of a person, event or place that you are involved with and some text describing what is happening could make for a short but interesting article.

6. News Briefs: Is there a landmark event or accomplishment in your organisation that you wish  to highlight? W&W will have pages listing items like this in brief (about 60 words). Explain in as few words as possible the event or accomplishment and its significance.  Provide an e-mail or website address for readers to go to for more information. Don’t include news updates better carried in the Global Buzz.

7. What’s On: W&W will have a listing of events or programs that readers could either take part in or might like to know about. If you have something scheduled in the next six months that you wish to promote, please send about 60 words describing the event, its location, time/dates, fees etc. Also include a contact name and phone or e-mail address.

8. Boardroom:  Key decisions taken by the ICAI Board and the General Assembly or during Regional Meetings that readers need to know. Messages board members would like to communicate to readers. Please keep contributions short and sharp.

9. Readers write: Comments on previous articles or the magazine for a W&W letters page. Please include the date and headline of the article, if any, that you are referring to.

Submission guidelines

Media: Provide your article in electronic form – no paper submissions. E-mail all relevant files to one of the following Content Coordinators:

Text files: Submit your articles in a text-based application such as  Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text (.rtf), with minimal formatting.

Graphics: Do not send photos and drawings embedded in text files. Send separately as jpg or tif files, with a resolution of at least 200dpi. In your article, insert a note (photo filename.JPG goes here) to show placement. Avoid unintelligible filenames like P24781.JPG – use one based on your article filename.

Tables: Send separately in MS-Word or Excel format.

Copyright: W&W assumes that your article has not been published elsewhere. If it has, provide a release note permitting W&W to reproduce it. If it includes drawings, photos and tables taken from other sources, please secure their permission, where needed.

Language: W&W is published mainly in English but we can feature articles in other languages as well. Please include an English translation or if that is unavailable, a summary.

Structure: Begin with a headline, followed by your full name. If relevant, include the name of the institution you are linked to and your designation. Include your contact details and e-mail so that readers can contact you unless, of course, you prefer not to be contacted.

Some writing tips:

1. Keep the reader in mind. W&W’s 1,000 plus subscribers differ widely in interests and experience. They range from ICA members to those working with other organisations, newcomers to veterans, sponsors to staff, and workshop facilitators to people running community development projects. Then there are those who stumble upon W&W while surfing the Internet. The only thing to assume about what all may have in common is an interest in the future and wellbeing of the planet.

2. Write for the broadest readership. Don’t focus on an in-crowd or use shop talk. This does not mean you cannot write on a specialised subject, for example, running a village health project – but do throw a few life lines for readers struggling to understand. Spell out acronyms. If specialist terms are used, include a brief explanation. W&W will have a glossary for some often-used abbreviations so acronyms like ToP and ICA are okay.

3. Write clearly. Use simple words and short sentences. If your command of the language is not good, don’t worry, the editors can fix that. But make your points accurate and understandable. If you mention someone, give their full name – don’t assume all readers know them. Where relevant, give their title or position. When referring to not so well-known places, give clues to location. For example, instead of “in Rawang,” write “in the town of Rawang, near Kuala Lumpur.”

4. Make articles interesting. They should tell a story and have a narrative or flow. When writing about your work, avoid progress reports with a “shopping list” of various points. Instead, focus on one thing and talk about it. To help readers relate to your subject, don’t just say what happened; also tell them its significance – why they should care. Reach out to the reader by entertaining them or giving insights and information they can use.

Tips for book reviews

Reviews should give enough information on a book to help readers decide whether they would like to read it. It should also provide an overview for those who may not get to read the book.

Begin with an introduction that will grab the reader’s attention and make him keep on reading. It could be a few sentences from the book, something about the author,  how the book affected you etc.  The introduction should also give the reader, at the very least, a general idea of what the book is about.

The rest of the review is pretty much left to your inventiveness and inspiration. Make sure your writing has a flow and include short excerpts from the book if you like.  Address the following questions, if you can:

  1. What are the main points of the book?
  2. Who is the author – anything interesting about him or her that sheds light on the subject of the book?  Has he or she written any other books on this topic that you have read?
  3. What did you find interesting about the book? How was it relevant for you?
  4. Is there anything you disagree with or where you would like to push back at the author?

Include the following details: Book title, author’s name, date of publication, subject, price.

This post was first published in Winds and Waves. For past issues, please visit our Winds and Waves archive.