Our mission at Narratively is to publish untold human stories that surprise, delight and captivate readers. The 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.
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.
(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.
The first link below is for the Spring 2022 Memoir Prize, and the following three themes are Calls for Pitches on specific themes we're requesting right now. To pitch a story not on one of these themes, scroll down to Reported Stories, Hidden History, or First-Person Stories below.
Please note that we only publish narrative non-fiction. We don't publish fiction, poetry, or opinion pieces.
Submissions and pitches for extraordinary reported stories. We want the incredible, the unusual, the unheard of. We want in-depth reporting on worlds that readers might not otherwise have access to, with strong central characters and active, dramatic scenes.
Most of our stories fit into one of our main verticals:
Renegades: Profiles of fearless rebels who are doing things their own way — and changing the world while they’re at it.
Super Subcultures: Meet the people who build their lives around weird and wonderful obsessions.
Secret Lives: Stories that lift the veil on surprising and secretive jobs, pursuits and lives.
For Hidden History stories, Narratively looks for larger-than-life characters who never made it into the history books, and deeply reported pieces that share their stories in full, vivid color.
The key to these pieces is that they haven’t been widely told elsewhere, and that you can uncover enough detail in your reporting to make your story just as vivid and active as the present-day stories that our reporters are watching in real time. Rather than encyclopedia entries that tell us about a person's accomplishments, we want narrative stories that show us the most incredible moments from their lives.
We are particularly interested in pieces about groundbreaking women, people of color, and anyone else whose incredible story has been unfairly obscured by history.
Some examples we love:
Narratively publishes first-person pieces in both our Memoir and Secret Lives sections.
Secret Lives stories spotlight surprising and secretive jobs, pursuits and activities. Memoir stories offer intimate takes on one-of-a-kind personal experiences. In both sections, 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 submissions should be made up of compelling, vivid, active scenes. 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:
Narratively is always looking for photo stories that bring new perspectives and voices to accompany our catalog of human-centric storytelling. Please note that we publish photo essays as opposed to photo galleries – while great photography is the backbone of each piece, every photo essay must also have a story arc that is driven by both visuals and original reporting.
Our photo stories usually have between 10 and 20 photos, with reporting presented via captions and accompanying text that informs the readers about the larger story as well as all of the details.
What to Submit: We review completed photo essays or works in progress. Each submission should include a headline that defines the unique focus of the story, along with a series of photographs and explanatory text. We collaborate closely with all contributors to edit the stories and prepare them for publication.
We are always looking for something new and untold. If the story has been done before, we want to see a surprising perspective or a new angle. Submissions should fall into one of Narratively’s primary channels:
Stories about people who build their lives around weird and wonderful obsessions.
Profiles of fearless game changers who are reconstructing the world in their own unique way.
Ambitious projects that put a human face on an important and newsworthy issue.
Photo series that provide an intimate look at a photographer’s life, with a concrete narrative.