Home Front non-fiction commission

A non-fiction writing commission
(update: You can find a menu of the work commissioned – updated periodically from early May, here) 

Calling budding young writers, thinkers and fledgling journalists… We’re excited to introduce Home Front, a micro-commission writing opportunity for young people aged 15 to 30 in South Yorkshire. Home Front seeks interesting non-fiction articles and opinion pieces on any topic responding, directly or indirectly, to the current world we find ourselves in…or the one waiting on the other wide.

In just over a month, we’ve been catapulted into a parallel universe normally only familiar to us in the realm of fiction – but here we are, in the middle of something big and scary, but also affirming with so many stories of hope and kindness.

With this strange new reality comes all sorts of coping strategies and behaviours, stockpiling loo roll, spying on neighbours, discovering our inner bakers. But also, with collective time on our hands, in a way we’ve never had before, many of us have been doing a lot of thinking. It’s this thinking we’re after. Home Front seeks to give a platform to the thoughts and voices of young people living through this unsettling time.

All we need from you is a pitch (no more than 250 words) outlining what non-fiction subject you’d like to write about and how you might approach it. Don’t worry if your mind is boggling at narrowing down what that might be, or if you’re new to writing non-fiction. Read on!

Firstly, what do you get if your pitch is chosen?
We’ll receive advice and editorial guidance, a small fee (known when the number of commissions is decided) and, of course, publication. This is a great opportunity for CVs, and for those interested in making more of writing like this in the future. Plus, you’re bound to learn stuff along the way.

What we’re after@
We’re keen to hear a mix of perspectives, insights, inspirations, reflections, opinions, interesting bits of research, perhaps even a quote or two (it might even be from your grandad, or a group you feel isn’t normally heard). We’re not after formal essays with grade-focused conclusions, we’re looking for engaging reads that everyone can enjoy (or question!). We want your work to speak passionately and clearly on a subject that interests you, because if it interests you, it will interest others. It can be hard-hitting, funny, informative, thought-proving, advice-giving. You get the drift – anything goes!

Deadline for pitches: As soon as possible! We’ll only be commissioning a small number of pieces and we’ll be closing the window on midnight 28th April,  so don’t delay, get your pitch in as soon as you can.

Send:

  • A pitch no longer than 250 words (We recommend reading ‘How to pitch’ and ‘Subject Matter’ below before you write your pitch)
  • Send to: pitch@hivesouthyorkshire.com with your name, age, the town you live in and the subject line: ‘Home Front’
  • If you’re outside of South Yorkshire, but in the not too distance north and really want to pitch, go on then, we’d still love to heard from you.

How to pitch

Your article pitch should be no longer than 250 words showing us what you’d like to write about and how you’ll approach it. These micro-commissions are limited so we’re looking to see real and interesting engagement in subjects. Think about some of the below and lace what is relevant into your pitch (don’t worry if you don’t hit all the points)…

  • Zoom into your subject interest – don’t try tackling everything under one subject – what’s your angle, interest, purpose for writing? A fresh, creative perspective on a known topic is always good, but think about whether you’re looking to give a balanced view, or if your piece is all out opinion. Is there an overriding question you want to explore?
  • What kinds of things might people get from reading your piece, e.g. informed humour, little known facts, a personal insight?
  • Stick to the basics and keep any summaries brief. We are after the gist and a sense of the shape you might go with it. Mention a few points you’ll make in the body of your article.
  • You might also want to think about the form you’ll write in if you plan to take a more creative approach. You could, for example, do a top ten piece, a speech, or an open letter.
  • Consider research. Might there be facts, stats or studies to reinforce your ideas. You might want to mention this at pitch stage or even name some of your info sources.
  • If you can think of a great title or intro grabber, include it.

Subject Matter
We’re open to any subject, whether it directly relates to our current world situation, or it has come out of thinking at this time.

Here are some example ideas which you’d be welcome to work with, but really, the call is completely open. Remember, your idea doesn’t have to relate directly to the current pandemic. As long as you can make a small link, we’d like to hear them!

  • Advice on how to cope during lockdown; your own experiences of social distancing; how your community has reacted, difficulties faced by a particular group
  • Testing times always bring change. But for the better or the worse? Some believe the pandemic will lead to a better society and future. Others fear it may make existing injustices worse. Maybe you’d like to tell us what you’d like to see in a post-Covid world or solutions you see for a better one.
  • The Great Depression and the second world war brought about the modern welfare state. What good could come from the Covid pandemic, or what suggestions do you want to see? Any parallels you know from other historical events we can learn from? This might be a good angle for the history buffs out there.
  • After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, surveillance culture exploded. Can you see any other necessary, or unnecessary controls coming in a post-Covid world?
  • Whenever crisis messes with the systems we live by, their reality is laid bare. Who are the haves and have-nots? What really matters, and what doesn’t? What infrastructures do we rely on that we don’t normally notice? What realisations have we made?
  • Gratitude – many of us have a new appreciation for what we have. What’s your take on this and what does it bring?
  • Large swathes of people worldwide are working in collaboration to stay in, save lives, and in the case of Britain, protect the NHS. What does collaboration mean and remind us of?
  • Mental health in Lockdown. How to cope with worry, catastrophising and spiralling thoughts.

Photo: Fabio Barbato | Isolation