Our mission at Narratively is to publish untold human stories that surprise, delight and captivate readers. The true stories we publish are defined not by topic but by style: immersive, cinematic storytelling that takes readers inside another world, another life, through vivid scenes, colorful details and compelling narrative arcs.
We are excited to announce that after taking a temporary pause to rework our submissions process and focus on our Memoir Prize, we have reopened pitches for three of our most popular sections: Deep Dives, Memoir and Secret Lives. We’re also currently looking for story ideas for our latest special series, The Art of Narrative Storytelling, that we’re producing with Creative Nonfiction magazine (more on that below).
So, what are we looking for? The best way to get a clear sense of what makes a Narratively story is to read several pieces on our site, particularly from our Greatest Hits section. And to learn more about what a good pitch looks like, check out our StoryCraft pieces, “The 3 Best Pitches I’ve Ever Received,” which pulls back the curtain on how to get our attention, and, “So, What Is a Narratively Story, Anyway? (Hint: Surprising, Exciting and Delightful, to Start),” in which two Narratively editors break down what defines a feature story for the site, replete with advice on how to do it. Still have questions? Pop over to the How to Pitch Narratively thread and ask us anything!
(NOTE: We’ve refined what types of stories we publish in recent years, so if you’ve submitted to, or even written for, Narratively in the past, we request that you read these full guidelines plus review some of the stories in the link above before submitting.)
There are a few key factors that every Narratively story has:
-It’s untold. The topic is original, fresh and not already covered in other major publications, books or movies. Think offbeat, unusual, beyond the news cycle. It should make the majority of readers say, “Wow, I’ve never heard about this before.”
-It’s human. Every Narratively story follows one central character or a small group of characters. We explore big ideas and topics, but always through the lens of human experience.
-It’s narrative. As you may have guessed from our name, we like stories with a narrative arc. That means that each Narratively story has a concrete beginning, middle and end that unfolds like a movie, taking the readers on a wild ride as they see, feel and hear the events through your writing.
We pay for all stories. In addition to publishing on Narratively.com, we also develop TV, film and podcast projects inspired by the stories that run on our site, generating additional creative and financial opportunities for contributors.
To send us a pitch in any of the categories mentioned above, scroll down.
Please note that we only publish narrative nonfiction. We don’t publish fiction, poetry or opinion pieces.
Memoir stories offer intimate takes on one-of-a-kind personal experiences. We want an honest glimpse into your life, and through that, into a world we’d never have access to otherwise.
As with all Narratively stories, first-person pitches should detail the compelling, vivid, active scenes your story will have. These scenes should be dramatic, exciting moments of you interacting with others. If most of your story is internal — thinking, feeling, reflecting — instead of moments where you are actively doing things and interacting with others, then it's not the right fit for us.
Some examples of first-person pieces we love:
Welcome to America’s Most Elite Girls Boarding School. Let the Hazing Begin.
I’m Married. I’m a Woman. I’m Addicted to Porn.
How I Wrote Myself into a Real-life Romantic Comedy – That Turned into a Survivalist Thriller
Announcing a special collaboration with Creative Nonfiction magazine that gets at the heart of what makes a great story truly great.
It’s no secret: Over at Narratively we love us an extraordinarily told narrative. How could we not, with a name like ours!? But just what, and who, defines this style of true storytelling, and how do you pull it off… and when is the right time to do so (and why)? Since we wouldn’t dare to ponder these existential questions without major reinforcements, we’ve formed a literary dream team to help us take a crack. In partnership with Creative Nonfiction magazine and its esteemed founder, Lee Gutkind (a.k.a. the “Godfather behind creative nonfiction”), we’re very excited to announce our latest special series, The Art of Narrative Storytelling.
So, you’re probably thinking, what are we looking for exactly? We’re completely open-minded and invite you to interpret this theme in your own way! But here are a few thought-starters that have been bouncing around in our brains ever since we began contemplating this partnership with Lee and the Creative Nonfiction team:
Did an obscure essay you once read in a long-defunct literary magazine change your life for reasons you’ve never been able to articulate until now? Have you always wanted to profile your narrative nonfiction hero and forge a previously uncharted path through their mysterious literary mind? Perhaps you had an aha moment while reporting undercover for your local alt weekly and won’t sleep until others learn from your writerly revelation. Maybe you’ve discovered a mind-bending connection between the works of two masters who couldn’t possibly have met in this lifetime. Or, wait, we know: you’re currently in a secret laboratory conducting experiments on the dopamine hits (or whatever they are!) delivered to readers of longform!? Bonus points if you yourself were once the subject of a narrative nonfiction story and can talk about the bizarro sensation of reading about your own life unfurling in lyrical prose across thousands of words!
We’re open to reported longform pieces, memoir, profiles, Q&As, or even some newfangled format that you think is destined to blow the world of narrative nonfiction wide open. Surprise, delight and educate us!
Rates: Rates for these stories will start at $1,500 per story.
Pitches Due: Monday, March 4.
"Secret Lives" is one of Narratively’s most popular ongoing series, and one for which we’re always looking for new pitches.
The series includes both reported profiles and first-person essays, and is defined by stories that bring readers into a slice of life they normally wouldn’t have access to.
Like all Narratively pieces, “Secret Lives” stories are narrative-driven, not topic-based. This means they go beyond “this is what it’s like to have this job” and take the reader through a *story* about the job or experience at hand. There needs to be a narrative arc with a clear beginning, middle and end. The writer or subject needs to be transformed in some meaningful way over the course of the story, and that transformation needs to be communicated through active, engaging, vivid scenes.
There has to be something at stake, something universal and human that’s being unraveled and examined. The most successful “Secret Lives” stories draw the reader in thinking that they have nothing in common with the writer or subject, and by the end leaves them feeling connected to their experience in a way they never imagined possible.
Deep Dives are Narratively's signature longform pieces: big, exciting, cinematic stories. Each Deep Dive takes readers on an epic journey, following its subjects on a months- or years-long odyssey. They are deeply reported and chock-full of engrossing, dramatic scenes. Reading a Deep Dive should feel like watching a great movie.
Like all Narratively stories, we want Deep Dives to be human (focused on a compelling character or characters); narrative (full of vivid, active scenes); and untold (something that hasn't been covered much by other publications). What sets these articles apart is the particularly ambitious reporting, whether in the form of historical research, on-the-ground reporting or both.
Before pitching, please take the time to read some of our best and most successful Deep Dives:
The Curse of the Ship of Gold: How a brilliant scientist went from discovering a mother lode of treasure at the bottom of the sea to fleeing from authorities with suitcases full of cash.
Jannie Duncan: “Beautiful Human” or Fugitive Killer?: She was imprisoned for murdering her husband, then escaped and assumed a new identity. Her adoring friends and employers had no idea.
The Man with the Golden Airline Ticket: The author's dad was one of the only people with a good-for-life, go-anywhere American Airlines pass. Then they took it away. This is the true story of having — and losing — a superpower.
For more stories, check out our Deep Dives section here.
Please note that Deep Dives are not defined by how long they are, but how ambitious the reporting and storytelling is. We're looking for robust pitches here, with some pre-reporting/research already complete, plus an outline of how you plan to finish the reporting.