If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Writing Guidelines for Mount Baker Experience

MBE is a quarterly magazine that covers the people, sports and activities, and the gear of outdoor recreation in the Pacific Northwest. Our motto is, “If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of the experience.”

MBEs editorial focus changes with the seasons – winter is devoted to winter sports while the summer issue, well, you get the point. Fortunately for us, many activities can be done year-round.

We are looking for writers who are passionate about what they do and are able to communicate that passion to the reader. We cover skiing (both downhill and Nordic) and snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hiking, kayaking, biking (both road and mountain biking), and scuba diving – any sport or activity that takes place outdoors. While our primary focus is local, we occasionally run out-of-area stories.

We are also interested in profiles of engaging outdoor characters, gear reviews and techniques. Articles involving a particular sport should engage both the person thinking about trying it as well as the hard-core enthusiast. Descriptive and compelling language that conveys the attraction of the sport gains the newbie’s attention while new places or opportunities are of interest to the enthusiast. The article should not tell how to do the sport; at most, it should describe the physical requirements. No one is going to try a sport based on your description – they’ll take lessons. Provide a sidebar listing shops offering the gear, rentals and lessons.

MBE is a cross-border publication – unless your article is about a particular destination, make sure it offers something for readers on both sides of the border. If you’re listing resources, do not rely on the web alone. Call the number and confirm its existence, its address and whatever else your article says about it. You are responsible for fact checking. Thoroughness and accuracy in details, history and background are essential. Include a sidebar with brief information that allows and motivates readers to follow in your footsteps: how to get to a featured destination, nearby places of interest or accommodations, and how to obtain additional information. Include contact information for your key sources.

Pay is dependent upon length, complexities and demands of a story.

  • Briefs (300 - 600 words) – $25 to $50
  • Article (650 - 1,000 words) – $100
  • Feature (Over 1,000 words) – $125 to $150

Articles that have appeared verbatim on any website will not be accepted. Stories that have been posted in another form online are considered previously published and will be paid at a lower rate than unpublished stories (to be determined by the editor based on overlapping content and exposure).

All stories are subject to editing, and those that require excessive editing will receive less than the standard rate of pay. If for any reason an assigned story is not published, writers are paid a kill fee of one-third the agreed-upon price. We will not accept articles published in or simultaneously submitted to a competing publication. All articles and photos published in MBE will also be posted on the magazine’s website. Contributors will not be paid twice for submissions posted online and in print.


Please provide photos if your story requires them. If you are unable to supply images, discuss with the editor early in the process. Photos should be top-quality, high resolution (300 dpi) and enhance the story. Label the image with your name and subject location (JohnSmith_NooksackFalls) and include name, subject info and location in metadata. Cover images must be vertical with room at the top for MBE logo, 300 dpi at 12 x 18 inches.

Payment for photos is dependent on usage:

Cover photo – $100

Inside, half page – $25

Inside, smaller – $15 to $25

Tips for Feature Writers (with thanks to Sea Kayaker)

Appeal to the senses: Whatever your pursuit, the environment around you came to you through your vision and other senses. Use that information to place your reader in that same situation. Don’t write - “The wind was blowing like mad” as that is simply analyzing the scene. Use vivid language and detail so the reader will picture the same image. “The wind was blowing the snow horizontally, stinging, pushing against me, making every step a small victory toward a distant goal.” The readers will understand – it was really windy.

Avoid unnecessary language: Avoid superlatives and unnecessary descriptors. Words like “glorious,” “incredible,” “awesome,” are imprecise and offer nothing to the reader. Use words that you would use in everyday conversation – don’t interrupt the flow and make the reader head for the dictionary. Technical terms should be explained.

Write economically and selectively: William Faulkner said, “Writing consists of killing your little darlings.” In other words, be your own editor, and be ruthless. The writing should not draw undue attention to the writer. We want articles filled with great description, yet short enough to be read in one sitting. Eliminate extraneous words and passages. Make evry word count.

Cover the important stuff: Focus on the highlights and the most significant moments of your story. We can include section breaks in the article to signify gaps in time. If it’s important to describe regular routines, pick a specific representative instance. Describe events as they unfold, not as you are looking back on them.

Keep to the point: Tangents must take readers somewhere worth going. If you need to take a detour to bring some interesting information to readers, make sure you bring them back to the story. Don’t lead them down a dead end, only to pick up the narrative again where you left off.

Maintain flow: Read your story aloud. Better yet, have someone read it aloud to you. You’ll get winded if your sentences are consistently too long and hyperventilate if they’re too short. Vary the length and structure of sentences as the content dictates to keep the pace of the story lively.

Use the appropriate tense: Although there are exceptions, the past tense is the best choice for most narrative stories. Don’t confuse readers by switching back and forth between present and past tense.

Create an interesting chronology: Nothing puts readers to sleep faster than a story that starts at Day One of a trip and trudges on through Day Two, Day Three, etc. If your story is a harrowing adventure, you may want to start with the most harrowing moment, whether it’s in the middle or at the end of your trip, then take the reader back through the events leading up to that point. If your story is more reflective, lead off with your central theme and follow it through to the end.

Be clear: Put yourself in the reader’s seat. Be aware that others will not be as familiar with your subject as you are, and write accordingly. Develop a sense of continuity throughout. We (editors and readers) don’t want to work too hard at deciphering your meaning.