Curious Submission Guidelines
What We’re Looking For
Curious is a self-improvement publication for those who are eager to find out what others have already figured out. With this in mind, we accept two types of stories:
- Personal stories: First-hand experience. What have you figured out that our readers would be interested to hear about and learn from? A great productivity routine? An important life lesson? Relationship advice?
- Research pieces: Second-hand experience. What eye-opening insights can you pass onto our readers that you’ve thoroughly researched? We’re looking for journalistic style pieces: information presented in an accessible way that is objective and based on facts. We’re not looking for anything that a quick Google search can tell us or anything that has been copied verbatim from a book or website.
Three of our favorite personal stories that should give you a clearer idea of what we’re looking for in this category:
- It’s Actually More Exhausting to Be Lazy Than It Is to Be Disciplined
- 5 Tips for Picking Your Battles, and Winning Some
- Productivity Spelled Backwards Is Self-Discovery
Why we loved them:
- Titles: They all had titles that clearly explained what the story would offer the reader as well as an element of intrigue. They were not clickbait and didn’t overpromise or try to fool the reader, nor were they sensationalist.
- Intros: We were immediately drawn in with a thought-provoking quote or interesting personal anecdote. There are many more story openings we love, including: starting in the middle of the action, a surprising statistic, an eye-opening fact, a hypothetical scene, or a storified intro.
- Images: Were properly cited and relevant to the story.
- Actionable takeaways: Each writer had the reader in mind and offered advice that the reader could use to improve their life. This is the opposite of a diary entry which is just a way to offload thoughts and feelings with no consideration as to how the reader can benefit.
- Fresh perspective: It’s inevitable that the same topics will be covered by different writers but these stories tackled popular topics in a unique way, providing a fresh perspective that we felt added to rather than repeated common advice.
- Length: Every story said what it had to in as few words as possible. This doesn’t mean they were short but instead they were concise and avoided repetition. A good read time to aim for is between 5 and 7 minutes. We don’t accept articles under 4 minutes long.
- Body: Each story flowed, leading us smoothly through linked ideas that all provided further insight and supported the main point of the story.
- Conclusions: The conclusions wrapped the articles up neatly, fulfilling what had been promised in the headline and intro, and sending the reader home on a high note.
Three of our favorite research pieces that should give you a clearer idea of what we’re looking for in this category:
- The Nordic Philosophy on Living a Simple Yet Satisfying Outdoor Life
- 6 Problems That Analytical People Face
- If You Want to Be Successful, Marry Your Best Friend
Why we loved them:
- Titles: They all had titles that clearly explained what topic the article was about and what the reader could expect to learn.
- Research: Every point/argument was backed up with research and wasn’t just random ideas plucked from thin air. All research was properly cited with relevant links to reputable sources e.g peer-reviewed research papers. (For reference, Wikipedia is not a reputable source as anyone can edit it so please don’t link to it.)
- Approach: All suggestions/arguments/theories were intelligently considered and presented in an easy-to-understand jargon-free way.
- Actionable takeaways: Information wasn’t just presented for information’s sake. Rather, it provided useful and actionable advice that the reader could use to improve their life.
- Unique perspective: Many topics will understandably be commonly recurring but these authors tackled overdone topics from a fresh angle, providing insights that were either new, relatively unknown or contrarian.
- Conclusions: They were not rushed and offered a compelling close to a well-rounded article, leaving the reader with a good understanding of the topic and fulfilling what was promised in the title/intro.
Lastly, only submit to Curious if you can answer yes to these 4 questions:
Is it the right fit for Curious? Consider if there’s another publication that your story is more obviously suited to. For example, ‘5 Tips to Help Your Children Sleep Better’ would be more suited to a parenting publication. And ‘My Step-by-Step Keto Diet Plan’ would find a better home in a health-based publication.
Does it have broad appeal? Would most people benefit from this? For example, ‘How to Organize Your Guest Room’ is only going to be beneficial to those who have a spare room for guests so is, therefore, too niche, whereas ‘How to Organize Your Bedroom to Promote Relaxation’ is more likely to have mass-appeal.
Is it an unpublished draft? If you’ve already published your story in another publication or you’ve self-published it then we won’t accept it.
Is the tone positive? We’re looking for positive pieces that will leave our readers feeling inspired. We don’t want to hear how social media is making us miserable or how we’re all narcissists. While we do accept stories that point out a problem (see some of our favorite pieces above) the story should also aim to address that problem. We’re not asking for toxic positivity but we do want positivity so take that negative stuff elsewhere.
We don’t want to hinder your creativity but please keep these points in mind when formatting your story.
Titles should be written in Title case. You can use this tool to help you. Be sure to select Chicago + Title case. Subtitles should be written in sentence case.
- Cover images: These should be placed below the title and subtitle and must be properly cited, even if the image has been taken or created by you. We don’t allow images that are predominantly text-based. For example, large words placed over an image that appears clickbaity or garish.
- Body images: Images within the body of the article are permitted but only when they support an important part of your story. For example, if your story is about productivity then you would be allowed to include an image of your to-do list to show how you order tasks, for example. Random stock images used to break up the text are not permitted.
These should also be Title case and subheads should be sentence case. Just like how we’ve formatted this section.
We don’t allow these.
Extra Hints and Tips
Because we want your stories to be the best they can be.
Medium is actively disincentivizing clickbait which means we are too. If your title falls into any of the below categories then you need to find a non-clickbait alternative.
- Is the title trying to exploit a reader’s personal worries, insecurities, or emotional state?
- Is the title or story image more provocative than the content of the story merits?
- Is the title over-reaching or over-promising with hyperbolic claims or absolutes that are not verifiable?
- Is the title withholding important context; misleading the reader; or using cliches, gimmicks, or cheap language?
We love titles that are thoughtful, high-quality propositions that explain exactly what the reader can expect from reading your story. And don’t forget about your sub-title. This should support your title not simply re-word it.
A good intro starts with an interesting fact, lesser-known quote, thought-provoking statement, or in medias res.
Be sure to stay on topic. Expand on what you promised in your headline and lead the reader to the core of your story.
Presumptive questioning or statements are a big turn-off e.g. Aren’t you sick of productivity hacks? Want to find happiness, of course, you do? You’re wasting your time on social media!
Don’t rush this part because it’s where you leave a lasting impression on your reader. Summarize your key points and/or leave the reader with your final thoughts. What do you want them to take away from this reading experience?
A conclusion is not a place to introduce new ideas or promote your other stories.
Your story should be a minimum of 4 minutes. 5–7 minute reads typically perform best. Very long stories, over 10 mins, are often verbose and would benefit from another edit to make them more concise. Occasionally, the story may be well-written but simply tries to cover too much ground and would be better as 2 or 3 separate stories.
These Things Make Us Sad
We’re sad every time we have to pass on a story because as writers ourselves we know how much time goes into creating them. Avoid these common pitfalls and you’ll increase your chances of us saying yes.
These aren’t typically written with the reader in mind. They are simply a way to offload your thoughts or feelings on a particular subject. While some can be written intelligently and coherently, they are by and large not useful to the reader because they don’t offer clear or actionable takeaways.
So, if you want to make your diary entry a great story then consider what you have learned from your experiences and how the reader can benefit from this knowledge. Not just one useful sentence at the end of a long emotional outpour but clear and actionable advice scattered throughout your story.
Often, but not always, titles that use first person ‘I’ or ‘My’ are centered on the writer. ‘You’ or ‘Your’ are reader-centered. Your story should be written for the reader.
Absolutes, hyperbole, and sensationalism
Sensationalism (a way of presenting words to entice readers at the expense of accuracy), hyperbolic words (over-exaggeration), and absolutes (e.g. this one thing will change your life) are all unnecessary gimmicks.
Unfortunately, these devices are just used to cover up poor-quality writing. If you find yourself having to use a gimmick then ask yourself why? What do you need to change in your story to make it stronger? How can you let it speak for itself? If you write openly and honestly then your readers will naturally be engaged.
Overdone topics and common advice
It’s inevitable that the same topics will be covered by different writers but you can reduce your chances of covering the same ground by reading widely in the topic(s) you write in. If you’ve heard it before then so has everyone else.
The Pomodoro technique, imposter syndrome, *insert name of famous person and their quotes/advice/habits*, fail more, reduce your time on social media, emotional intelligence, circadian rhythm, morning routines, the 80/20 rule, perfectionism is good/bad, Atomic Habits, life regrets (working too much, not spending enough time with family/friends, choosing assets over experiences), Eat the Frog, procrastination is self-sabotage/fear/perfectionism, SMART goals, take more breaks, exercise more, self-compassion, don’t use electronic devices before bed, and be positive are just a few things we see a lot.
We’re not saying don’t write about or around these topics but if you do then you need a really fresh perspective or unique angle.
CTAs and self-promotion
We don’t allow self-promotion of your other stories in the body of the text, like this:
219 Reasons to Rethink Your Daily Routine
From morning habits to boosting productivity, here are the key takeaways from Dr. Stuart Farrimond’s latest book — The…
It’s not aesthetically pleasing, not to mention distracting. We want the reader to continue reading your story not get side-tracked by another one. You can link to 1 or 2 stories postscript.
The same goes for calls to action (CTAs) these should be short, tasteful, and only placed at the end of your story.
Let’s Make a Deal
Time is precious and we know you’re eager to get your stories out there for everyone to see so let’s make a deal — If you don’t hear from us within 36-hours, from the moment you submit, then please consider your story not accepted. That goes for both new and approved writers.
Please don’t let this discourage you from submitting future stories to us, though. We would, however, recommend you re-read our guidelines before sending any future work to us just in case you’ve missed something important.
Ready to Submit?
If you’ve read our guidelines in full and think you have an amazing story that we’ll love then please complete the below submission form.
*And one last point. Submitting to us means you agree to us making any edits to your photos or copy without further notice.*
We can’t wait to read your stories!
Elizabeth and the Curious team