Readers’ Narratives

One of the great pleasures of editing Narrative is the knowledge that our stories find readers all over the world, that one needs only an Internet connection and a love of the English language to reach us. Coming together over the same stories creates an intimacy otherwise impossible between far-flung strangers. Often we’ve wondered about our readers all over the United States, Canada, the UK, Europe, Russia, Asia, the Pacific, Central and South America. We hear from many of you with queries about the magazine, and we’re curious too about the world where you are. What’s out the window, down the street, in town or out? What daily experience are you involved in or witnessing that would make a short, compelling read? We invite you to send us a short piece that will tell our readers about your world, or perhaps your state of mind, or heart.

A Reader’s Narrative may take the form of a short personal essay, a dispatch in story form, a reflection or meditation on crucial matters in one’s life (past or present) or in the larger social realm—matters such as questions of friendship and family or of politics, war, and the environment. We intend Readers’ Narratives to illustrate a dramatic turn in life—a moment of trouble or joy, insight, or revelation. And whatever else a Reader’s Narrative does, it should include the element of place—a strong sense of setting and how it shapes the events you’re writing about.

Ideas of place may go beyond geographical location to a time or stage of life; a room or aspects of home; a role within a community; relationships that define a moment; emotional states; and physical conditions such as aging, athletic quests, and challenges. We encourage you to think creatively about place not only as setting but also as manner of being.

Please note: while the first-person narrator is often most common, we are also seeking pieces that transcend the self-expression observable in the first-person, present-tense memoir. Instead, we are looking for works that demonstrate a sense of proportion and perspective, an engagement with the world beyond the self, manuscripts that offer gifts of omniscient thought or feeling, and insight that enhances a reader’s sense of connection and possibility.

The Guidelines are as follows:

We accept Readers’ Narratives that run up to 1,500 words. Submissions are considered year-round. We may edit your piece, and if we do, we will go over any changes with you. If your work has been selected, you will hear from us before publication. We are, however, a small staff and regret that we cannot comment on unaccepted Readers’ Narratives, though we will notify by email of our our decision on your piece.

Payment: We will pay $100 for each Reader’s Narrative accepted for publication.

Submission Fee: There is a $23 fee for each submission. And with your submission, you’ll receive three months of complimentary access to Narrative Backstage.

Formatting Your Manuscript: Your manuscripts should be in 12-point type, with at least one-inch margins, and double-spaced. Your name, address, telephone number, and email address should be typed at the top of the first page. You may also include a brief biographical note with your submission.

Please note: We do not accept work that includes machine-generated text.

Other Submission Categories: In addition to Readers’ Narratives, please review our other Submission Categories for areas that may interest you.