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 two categories below are specific themes we're looking for pitches on. However, we're always looking for pitches outside those themes as well. 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.
Narratively is collaborating with The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars to produce the next edition of Wilson Quarterly, a global journal of ideas, cultural and news. Wilson Quarterly looks at how policy and politics affect the world, on a variety of levels. We are currently seeking pitches for the upcoming theme:
Opportunities Across Borders: The spring 2023 issue of the Wilson Quarterly will take a close look at trade and the opportunities it presents for renewed American economic and foreign policy leadership. We are hoping that Narratively writers can help us tell the stories that demonstrate how trade agreements impact peoples’ lives and the communities they live in. A couple of angles in which we are interested include:
· How the Abraham Accords have created opportunities in Jordan or other Middle Eastern countries.
· How trade has benefitted women or other marginalized populations in a developing country/community.
· An example of how digital trade has enabled small and medium-sized businesses to engage where they couldn’t before.
Or any other stories that highlight the opportunities that trade has/could have with a focus on the human impact.
Rate: $2,000 for 1,500-2,000 words
Please review the Wilson Quarterly website for examples of the types of stories they run before submitting your pitch. Thank you!
Through wartime and peace, boom and bust, through every major event that shakes our world, television journalists are among the most influential people who shape how we view that world. And throughout the medium’s history, most of those people have been white. But not all of them. We’re looking for inspiring and dramatic stories that celebrate Black broadcast journalists who have broken down barriers and blazed their own trails, and we’re not shying away from the ugliness they confronted along the way, or continue to face today.
Whether at major networks; tiny, unexpected affiliates; or social media startups, we’re seeking articles that put the spotlight on Black journalists — anchors on screen or people behind the scenes — with fascinating stories to share. These stories can be first-person essays or reported articles; stories that are still unfolding today or retrospectives, though we are most interested in stories set in the 1980s or later.
The most important thing is that they profile a person or group of people doing something truly unexpected, and that they are filled with cinematic drama, tension and excitement, making the story feel like a Black-centric version of THE NEWSROOM or THE MORNING SHOW.
For our Super Subcultures collection, Narratively is looking for true crime pitches that center around underrepresented communities and expand to say something bigger about a lack of opportunity, equity or representation for these groups. With these stories, we’re aiming to show how crime in these communities can often be overlooked by official authorities, to the extent that people in the communities have to stand up for themselves. Think: An Eqyptian drag queen who uncovers a money-laundering scheme that stretches to the highest levels of government; a group of imams going up against a biker gang terrorizing their town; a nonbinary ketamine ring promoting gender abolition in the underground drug world; a teacher exposing human trafficking at a school for the blind; a Taiwanese grandma taking down a mafia boss.
As always, we’re looking for gripping stories full of drama and intrigue that grab readers, and we always want an impactful takeaway that shows us how the story has progressed and why it’s relevant right now.
Here are a few stories from Narratively and elsewhere that capture what we’re looking for:
- The Million-Dollar Scammer and His Many Mormon Marks: How an audacious con man with fake ties to the pinnacles of the church ran an epic scheme and swindled those who trust.
- The Delay: After an 11-year-old Navajo girl was kidnapped, her family and friends sprang into action to find her. Why did it take so long for law enforcement to join them?
- 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 Counterfeit Queen of Soul: A strange and bittersweet ballad of kidnapping, stolen identity and unlikely stardom.
These can be first-person pieces about your own experience or reported stories.
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: