Hi there! If you’ve got an extraordinary personal story to share, you’ve come to the right place. From April 27, 2022, through June 27, 2022, Narratively is accepting entries for our Spring 2022 Memoir Prize. We’re on the hunt for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view — the best of which we’ll reward with four-figure cash prizes, publication and heavy promotion, and a lot more. We’ve assembled an absolute dream team of guest judges from the pinnacles of books, podcasts, TV and film to help us select one Grand Prize Winner and two Finalists. (More on that below.)
Who is Narratively? We’re a storytelling platform and production company that supports indie journalists and storytellers and celebrates humanity through true, authentic and diverse character-driven content. We publish our original stories on Narratively.com and often with top publishing partners across the globe, and we adapt our favorites into TV, film and podcasts with leading partners from Amazon Studios to Warner Bros. Television. We’re immensely proud and excited to do the same with our Spring Memoir Prize winners! (You can learn more about Narratively’s mission and business model here.)
Who’s judging my story? Entries will be judged on a rolling basis in four rounds: the first three by experienced Narratively readers and staff, and the final by our incredible and generous guest judges:
- Ashley C. Ford, New York Times–bestselling memoirist of Somebody’s Daughter
- Nicole Rocklin, Oscar-winning film and TV producer behind the movie Spotlight and the upcoming Lizzo documentary. (Read our profile on Nicole Rocklin here.)
- Glynn Washington, host, creator and executive producer of the podcast/radio show Snap Judgment (Read our profile on Glynn Washington here.)
So what do I win?! In addition to publishing their work on Narratively.com, and including it in a special Narratively Spring 2022 Memoir Prize Digital Collection, we’ll award the top three writers the following cash prizes:
Grand Prize: US$3,000
…but wait, there’s more! A large part of our mission is developing TV series, films and podcasts inspired by Narratively’s one-of-a-kind stories. This creates new pathways, both creatively and financially, for Narratively and its contributors, and enables us to provide a platform for your work. We’ll support our Grand Prize Winner and Finalists by working to adapt their stories into larger projects. Beyond this, our Grand Prize Winner will join Narratively for a series of three exclusive and collaborative video conversations, one with each of our guest judges, to discuss exciting ways to build on their story — from books to graphic novels, podcasts, television series and films.
(Psst! Please keep scrolling for more Prize info, but if you’re not yet ready to enter, we’ve got you covered: sign up for our Prizes newsletter to receive helpful reminders about Prize deadlines, updates and announcements, and news about future Narratively Prizes on a variety of topics.)
What are we looking for, exactly? Narratively’s first-person stories offer intimate takes on unusual personal experiences, pursuits and passions. Across everything we do, our absolute focus is on supporting fresh and underrepresented voices. We want an honest, in-depth glimpse into your life and, through that, a world we and our readers might never have access to otherwise.
So how does this work? Our competition period opens at 9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on April 27, 2022, and closes at 9 p.m. EDT on June 27, 2022. Enter your eligible piece via our dedicated form on Submittable by uploading your submission and paying a US$20 entry fee within the prize submission period. We expect to announce our final decision on or around August 15, 2022.
Why do we charge a fee? Your entry fee will allow us to compensate the people who are enabling us to effectively and fairly evaluate every single Prize submission — from our freelance readers to our Prize editors, copyeditors, fact-checkers, visual editors and producers.
Here are a few examples of first-person Narratively pieces we love:
- My Childhood in an Apocalyptic Cult
- The Adventures of a Pakistani in Texas
- My Bizarre Reign as New York’s King of “Virgin Russian Hair”
- I Was Taught to Hate My Lesbian Neighbors. They Took Me In Anyway.
- Diary of a Bachelor Who Suddenly Became a Solo Dad to a Teenage Girl
- My Secret Life Tracking Down Debtors
- How I Wrote Myself into a Real-life Romantic Comedy — That Turned into a Survivalist Thriller
- My Coming Out Story, Starring a Priest, an Animal Sacrifice and Ricky Martin
What should my entry look like? As with all Narratively stories, submissions should be composed of vivid, active scenes, unique characters and an engaging narrative arc. We have a few rules to follow, but encourage maximum creativity within these guidelines. The best way to get a sense of what we’re looking for is to read the stories on the list of examples we love above. (Full formatting info is available on our Submittable form.)
Your piece should be:
- Ready to publish — no pitches accepted
- In the 2,000- to 7,000-word range
- Written in the first person
- Original and previously unpublished as a written work
- Written in English, although translations are acceptable
You should be:
- Eighteen years of age or older on or before 9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on April 27, 2022
- Not employed by, related to or sharing living quarters with Narratively staff or our guest judges
To answer your questions:
- We will accept simultaneous submissions (meaning you also can submit your entry to other outlets during our open Prize window), but writers must notify us if their piece is accepted elsewhere.
- We will accept multiple submissions from a single author, but each story must be submitted and paid for individually.
- We will permit adaptations from other media (podcasts, scripts, etc.) with disclosure.
- This competition is open to anyone, including past and current Narratively contributors. (Current and former Narratively editors, however, are ineligible.)
- The Grand Prize Winner and Finalists will be required to sign our standard Contributor Agreement, an overview of which can be found here.
- These are a few of the key points in our agreement:
- You retain print publication rights, should you pursue a book version of your story now or in the future.
- Narratively has the right to pursue TV and film projects based on the work. These projects could be either unscripted/documentary or fictional (inspired by your story).
- Revenue from any TV or film projects is shared with contributors.
- We publish Narratively Out Loud, which features read-aloud audio versions of all Narratively stories, so the contract also gives us the rights to produce those.
- Take a look at our FAQ page here.
For full Prize eligibility and rules, click here. Still have questions? Email us at [email protected] Also, sign up for our Prizes newsletter to receive helpful reminders about deadlines, Prize updates and announcements, and news about future prizes on a variety of topics.
We can’t wait to be invited into your world. Best of luck!