These are a work-in-progress and subject to change. Also note: much of this is specific to our 6-month grant period, funded by Grant for the Web.
Widget publishes humour, satire, and comedy pieces — for pay. That’s where you come in! We’ve created these guidelines with a first-time writer in mind. That means there’s a LOT of information here. An experienced writer can probably skim for the essentials.
Are you a first-time or emerging writer? We suggest reading the whole thing, as it is very wise and full of much wisdom. Also, a lot of this oughta help with your future writing work, beyond Widget. (Think of us when you’re famous, ok?)
Are you an experienced writer who has published work in a few different places? Make sure you read these parts, at least:
Who should submit
Widget wants to fight oppression, white supremacy and oligarchy insofar as a teeny tiny comedy website is able to. What this means is taking steps (see Inclusivity Guidelines,
here coming soon) to bring in first-time, emerging, and non-traditional writers from barriered backgrounds – in terms of class, gender, race, neurodiversity, background, and culture.
Do you see yourself in this list? We’d love for you to pitch us. Like Garfield loves lasagna, that’s how much we’d love for you to pitch us.
- Living with disabilities
- Incarcerated/formerly incarcerated
- Unhoused/formerly unhoused
- Living with mental illness/neurodiversity
- Poor, underemployed and working class
- Note that we’re only looking for pitches, not complete drafts. See our pitching guidelines, below.
- We publish in monthly themed collections. More info on the themes for our six-month grant period (along with some prompts!) below.
Is this your first time pitching a piece? Even better, we’re your big break. Reach out to us and we’ll help you develop your pitch.
Also, we’ll pay you $200 USD upon publication. (Once per person, per grant period.)
Obviously, no TERF or right-wing or white supremacist malarkey, etc.
What we’re looking for
Some words we don’t like: smug, patronising, centrist…
Take our tagline, “Fart jokes & anti-capitalism,” as your starting point.
We pay a flat rate for contributions, regardless of format. To keep things fair, we might encourage you to find a way to make shorter pieces longer or to write more than one shorter piece.
Need ideas? Here are some formats you can consider:
These formats are just suggestions to help get you started. We’ll give serious consideration to pitches in any format on its merits. No points docked for being experimental or creative (funny poems? a funny manifesto?); maybe some given.
(However, we’re not looking for personal essays or timely pieces.)
- Short comedic prose article: ‘The classic.’ A funny idea explored in several paragraphs. Examples we like:
- Bad fan fic: Fictional prose lampooning any characters recognisable to pop culture (Wendy from Wendy’s; Donkey Kong; Jesus from the Bible, e.g.). Examples we like:
- Dialogues: Two people talking. Could be an interview, Q&A, movie dialogue (cut or imagined), customer service call, conversations, Socratic dialogue… An example we like:
- Widget guide to…: Follow a list format using whatever sort of list works best for you, like study guides, ‘trivia’, or hacks, e.g. Either a simple unordered list (like example ‘a’ below) or a funny listicle (like example ‘b’ below). Examples we like:
- (Fake) Oral histories: People involved in a thing describe how that thing came about. Examples we like:
Have a brilliant idea in a format we haven’t thought of? Let us know and if we like it we’ll
steal it figure something out.
Some general notes:
- Fiction only, please. It’s great to include aspects of your personal experience in your piece, but we’re not looking for personal essays.
- Social/political messages aren’t required in your piece. Go ahead and submit your inner monologue of a dog sniffing its own butt, you don’t need to convince us it’ll end fascism
- Your experiences as a member of a marginalised group don’t have to be part of your POV. They certainly can be, but we appreciate that you might want to talk about other stuff, too. (See the dog-sniffing-butt note, above.)
- See our Monthly Themes for more info on content
Every month, for the six months of our grant period, we’re focusing on a different theme, and publishing ~20 paid, original pieces. Months that still have spots available will appear in the submission form.
For every theme, we’ve created 10 prompts to help you get inspired. Feel free to ignore the prompts and do your own thing.
Just make sure you’re pitching for one of the available themes.
January 2021: Myth & Legends (Content calendar full)
- A mythical character gets a regular job, like Medusa working at Supercuts
- A mythical character with human foibles/flaws/quirks — what if Thor was scared of thunder; or Aphrodite was on SSRIs?
- Make up a fairytale or bedtime story for modern times
- Write from or about a mythical character’s unusual perspective — like the Beast from Beauty and the Beast being a conspiracy theorist
- Write about a myth or fairytale from your cultural background
- Rewrite a folktale/legend for modern times — a Poe story set in 2020? A Bible story in 1977?
- ‘Interview’ a character from myth or folklore – Frost/Ixion?
- An unlikely character goes through the Hero’s Journey – a Walmart greeter visits the underworld? Cornel West fights a dragon?
- Aetiological myth – tell us the legend of where something mundane or unexpected comes from
- Gods/spirits from a made-up mythological tradition
February 2021: Food & Travel
- Write from or about the point-of-view of a ‘foodie’ or other snobs like that – like this piece about craft beer
- An (absurd, strange or interesting) recipe – a 12th-c. monk’s take on pot brownies; Dracula’s “what I eat in a day”
- Does your culture treat food in a unique or interesting way? Elaborate (and exaggerate)
- A travel guide to a place that doesn’t exist
- Write about destinations from fiction, film, fantasy – did someone leave a one-star Expedia review of The Shire? Why?
- Write about space-travel…but make it weird. What about a martian’s travel blog? Best dining on the International Space Station? Weird Hubble photos?
- An alien’s guide to Earth/some unexpected or mundane part of Earth – what if a martian had to learn about the electoral college, the poor bastard?
- Silly travel posters/tourism campaigns
- Lists or ‘listicles’, like: made-up roadside attractions, boring must-see landmarks, etc.
- A food critic who shouldn’t be a food critic (e.g. a picky eater)
March 2021: Work & Money
- “Millennials (or younger generations) killed the [x] industry”
- Show us your (made up) investing, personal finance or budgeting hacks — using funny pie graphs or chart? Sure!
- Absurd take on a hot topic from the world of work (finances, gig economy, retirement, etc.) – How can things get even more dystopian? What is the future of retirement?
- An interesting want ad…
- Does your dream job have a down side? Or your ‘nightmare job’ an upside?
- Comedic explainers for common sayings about work & money (like ‘Money is the root of all evil’)
- The (surprising/silly) history of a major company or organisation – what if Northrop Grumman started as a ‘mom & pop’ fruit stand? Or Amazon started as an anarchist co-op?
- A fictionalised, heightened account of the worst job you’ve (n)ever had
- Silly jobs through history. What was Genghis Khan’s first job?
- Guides, hacks and tips: how to hustle, how to stretch your dollar, how to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, how to slack off on Slack
April 2021: Family & Community
- What’s your ridiculous take on common themes surrounding family & community, like sibling rivalry, feuding neighbours, family dinners, family traditions, or chosen family?
- Local businesses / ‘mom & pop’ businesses
- Write about the idea that ‘Pets are part of the family’ – maybe your teenage brother is a Pomeranian? Maybe your cat comes on family vacation?
- “These are the people in my neighbourhood.”
- The family business
- Family dynamics in unexpected places – like a workplace that (pretends to) treat workers like a family? Or the family dynamics of the ’86 Mets? Or the Spice Girls?
- Write about a community that doesn’t really exist but should
- Articles from a fake community paper or online forum
- (Funny, silly or strange) wisdom and advice from parents/parent figures
- Loss/grief, if there’s a funny & tasteful way to tackle that! What if Super Mario was brought to the Goomba people’s Hague? What if a ghost had strange advice from beyond the grave?
May 2021: School & Education
- Write a dialogue from the schoolyard – maybe in the middle of a game of tag? Or addressing some ‘great scandal’ from the kindergarten class?
- Write a silly, strange or ridiculous syllabus or lesson plan for a university course that doesn’t exist.
- Write a post-mortem of a failed after-school program
- Write in the format of a test – a multiple choice test by a teacher with an obvious gambling problem? Essay prompts from a teacher who’s clearly a time-traveling H.G. Wells protagonist?
- Life lessons: Write about something that can’t be learned in a classroom
- Pick someone from history/movies/books. What would happen if they were a teacher? Or a student?
- Book reports: a 6-year-old reports on some academic text, a philosophy scholar reports on Goosebumps. Create some comedic contrast between topic and speaker.
- (Silly, strange or woefully inept) guides: “ace your exams without studying”; “memorise these 5 equations to ace any math exam”; “lesser-known themes of Great Expectations”
- Absurd high school cliques, potentially with seating charts?
- Write in the format of a speech, like a Valedictorian speech, or a candidate for Class President
June 2021: Arts & Entertainment
- Terrible elevator pitches for amazing shows/movies, or amazing elevator pitches for terrible shows/movies
- Silly book clubs – create a dialogue, notes or rules from the world’s worst book club
- Famous works done in different genres – if “Titanic” was a quirky rom-com; or X-Men were a soap opera? (One trick you can consider: “Low” art done as “high” art / “High” art done as “low” art.)
- Silly movie or music festival posters
- Concert reviews: review an imaginary concert. (By imaginary bands, if you want.)
- Adapt a book that’s unadaptable, like maybe a chemistry textbook as a summer blockbuster
- Give an incorrect or silly guide to some part of music or art history
- Give your ‘fancast’ of some media property. What about Nate Silver as the rebooted John Wick? Alice Munro as Janis Joplin in a new biopic? Defend your choices! What will they bring to the role?
- Invent and pitch a TV show relating to your community or cultural background
- Invent a cinematic universe – what about the breakfast cereal cinematic universe? The Saturday morning cartoon cinematic universe? The Sackler family cinematic universe?
How to write a good pitch
The essentials: Send us 1-3 pitches that fit into the monthly theme.
What is a pitch? A pitch is a suggested title for your piece, and then 2-3 sentences on how you see it heightening. Then tell us a bit about you! Here’s an example:
Hi Widget editors! My name is [YOUR VERY NICE NAME], and I have a pitch for the Myths and Legends theme. My piece would be called “Meet our Newest Supercuts Teammate: Medusa!” The piece itself would get humour out of Medea debating clients over their desired cuts and managing her snake hair, all while desperately trying not to make eye contact with her clients in the mirror (lest they turn to stone). I’ve published in [NAME A FEW PLACES] or I’m a newer writer who wants to try my hand at humour. Open to your feedback!You
The less essentials or, if you like, lessentials.
Never written a pitch? Cool! Welcome to Pitch School – not to be confused with Spinal Täp’s song of a similar name.
Here’s some general advice on pitching.
- Generally, you may want to address your pitch to us editors by name (Sam & Janet) – This is good practice when you’re corresponding with serious editors, though personally, we don’t give a shit. “Hey Widget” is just fine. We’re not cops.
- Flesh out your idea in advance – What’s really funny or interesting about your idea? What takes it out of reality? Can you make it even sillier, even weirder, even more impactful? Nothing half-baked, please, unless you’re a beginning (comedy) writer and want some help cracking your idea.
- Figure out why this is a good fit – Can you see your idea working for Widget? If not, can you tweak it till it does? Are you someone we’d encourage to submit? (See ‘Who Should Submit’.) Well, c’mon then, get in touch.
- Take your time – Does your pitch feel unfinished? Undercooked? Vague? In that case, keep working on it. No rush.
- Relax! – A rejection from a Canadian comedy website no-one’s ever heard of doesn’t (necessarily) mean you’re a bad, unfunny person whom we hate! Pitch us again, especially after considering why we didn’t accept the last ones. And if you’ve got a promising idea that’s not quite there yet, we’ll work with you to punch it up.
- Take advantage of available resources – We’ll have free comedy writing lessons available soon! Additionally, you can ask us for advice, join our forum (work-in-progress), and/or can also check out other useful pitch-writing resources here (most comedy sites don’t accept pitches, so these aren’t comedy-specific):
Submitting your pitch
What to submit, how to submit, what to expect…
Multiple pitches are fine – Send us as many pitches as you like until you’re successful! But…
We’ll pay each author only once – This applies during our 6-month grant period, January 2021-June 2021. In the interests of giving opportunities to as many people as possible, we won’t be publishing any contributor more than once.
Original pieces only – Nothing that’s been published already. You trying to start beef between us and Daily Shouts?! SMDH. 😣
We’ll respond within 2 weeks – AKA a fortnight.
Pitches only – Please no complete drafts of pieces. 1-3 pitches, defined above (but you know that already, don’t cha?)
Feel free to show us other work – No cover letters, thanks, but you can share a website link if you want. Don’t have one? First-timer? Don’t worry about it at all, we wanna hear from you!
What’s in it for you (plus terms)
Payment details, additional terms…
We pay a flat rate of $200 USD for your contribution to the site.
We’ll also ask one contributor a week to read their piece on our weekly podcasts, Work It and Overtime. There’s an extra US$50 in it for you! Opt in or out through the online submission form. We’ll help you through the actual recording process (TL;dr: voice memos is fine, so it’s super easy).
All posts during this 6-month grant period will be Creative Commons licensed. This means other people can quote the piece (even in full), ‘remix it’, do whatever they want with it – with attribution. Hopefully, the tradeoff is a) reaching a wider audience; b) supporting creativity and content creation, and knowing you’re on the other side of history from Disney et al.
We won’t monetize your work into, say, a line of Widget-branded lingerie or swim apparel, without an additional agreement. But we might use it in promotional materials – such as free zines, free posters, so on. Always with links and/or attribution.
Spelling, additional questions
- Please proofread your stuff! Spell check it (unless bad spelling’s part of the gag??); make sure it’s clear; check for sentence fragments and so on. We use Canadian English.
- We’re also inchoately interested in multilingualism and translation… If you’re comfortable/fluent in other languages and want to send a translation as well, let’s talk.
- Send questions via our Contact page.